Lab-grown diamond brand Kimaï gets seed funding from Talis, Minkoff
today Nov 19, 2019
Kimaï, an ethical lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold jeweller, said on Tuesday that it has secured $1.2 million in seed funding from a round led by London-based Talis Capital.
Since launch just a year ago, the company founded by Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus has grown its community organically and the two women will use the new money to grow their existing customer base, expand the current product offering, and building out a team based between New York and Antwerp.
Other investors in the company include fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, the head of the Facebook App Fidji Simo, former director of Cartier France Coralie de Fontenay and French businessman Xavier Niel.
Minkoff said she was “honoured to have the opportunity to support female founders on their journey of entrepreneurship. I've been impressed by Sidney and Jessica's expertise and vision for the future of the diamond industry and am excited to see the impact they will make.”
It’s an impressive investor line-up and comes as more and more luxury consumers are seeking ethical options among the products they buy. The direct-to-consumer fine jewellery brand said it’s “aiming to bring transparency, innovation and inclusivity to a consciously-minded generation of consumers”.
Matus Maar, co-founder and managing partner at Talis Capital, added: “We have followed Jessica and Sidney’s journey since inception and have been impressed by their vision and brilliant execution. They know how to use technology to better engage with their customers and create ethical but also beautiful designs straight to your door. We look forward to helping them shake up the traditional diamond industry.”
The company uses a “Millennial-friendly drop model” to introduce new pieces on a monthly basis and focuses on a curated selection of “unique designs with quality and design over quantity”. The pieces are made to order, “which enables us to respond quickly to our customers’ evolving demands and wants,” Warch said.
Early adopters of the brand include The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Emma Watson and Jessica Alba.
“Diamonds are still being marketed to men, fine jewellery stores remain unapproachable and intimidating, and design and quality come with a high price-tag,” explained Warch. “It’s time for a change.”
Warch, and Neuhaus were childhood friends and were both raised in diamond hub Antwerp. They said that “having grown up to diamond-trading families, and disillusioned by the controversies and outdated practices that have plagued the industry, they questioned how they might set about changing it”.
“Our generation represents more than 45% of the global luxury goods market, but the industry is still stuck in their old ways,” Neuhaus said.
The company grew out of the search for alternatives to traditional diamonds. “We are not talking about cubic zirconia or crystals, but diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to their mined counterparts,” Neuhaus added, “without the environmental or social impact.”
The products themselves are hand-made in Antwerp, using those lab-grown diamonds and 18k recycled gold. By selling directly to customers online, Kimaï aims “to offer the same quality found at luxury jewellers, at a fraction of the price”.
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