Fine Jewelry Startup AUrate Opens Its First Brick-and-Mortar Store

The New York City space will double as brand headquarters

New York City–based fine jewelry brand AUrate, which launched as an e-tailer of everyday gold jewelry in 2014, will open the doors to its first permanent retail store on April 21—an appointment-only showroom located in Manhattan’s SoHo. 

The brand, which was founded by friends Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui, will use the shop for selling, but also as a headquarters/work space and venue for press appointments. Though shopping at the showroom, located at 92 W. Houston St., is appointment-only, anyone can make an appointment to browse and/or buy through the brand’s website, auratenyc.com.

screen_shot_2016-04-13_at_10.35.11_pm.png

The new AUrate store in NYC
 

We felt it was important to open a physical space where we can bring the AUrate aesthetic to life,” says Kahn. “A place where customers can touch and see the jewelry before they purchase.” She added that opening a brand store in NYC was a direct response to the customer feedback she and Ezzahraoui collected during their many pop-up adventures, which spanned Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“Some of our customers are not comfortable purchasing fine jewelry online,” Ezzahraoui concedes, “and they prefer to see the pieces in person. Having this store will also give us the opportunity to meet with our customers in person and one-on-one,” which will lead to the brand “developing stronger relationships with them.”  

The showroom will house the largest assortment of AUrate fine jewelry available, say the founders. Among the items will be “some pieces that are still under development and have not officially launched—but will be available for exclusive viewing at the space,” says Kahn. Customers will be able to preorder not-yet-in-production pieces at the new shop.

The founders say they want the in-store AUrate experience to feel as special as the one customers access through their online channel. “We’ll be offering a unique one-on-one experience for each client,” notes Ezzahraoui. “Each customer will be greeted by a dedicated AUrate stylist who will help them during their appointment. We want to make sure the experience feels special, and more personal, than a typical retail space on the street.”  

AUrate’s modern business model, which I wrote about here, ticks off all the major boxes of a next-generation business: The brand started as an online endeavor, boasting an easy-to-use, beautifully designed website that offered close to zero friction at checkout. It has a charitable angle and is, in general, a good corporate citizen. The collection itself strikes that undeniable daily-luxe vibe, aesthetically speaking. And the brand’s direct-to-consumer model means prices are accessible. 

Now, like Warby Parker, Shinola, BaubleBar and a handful of other hot “premium” brands that came before it, AUrate is opening an urban store–slash–work space. It’s a smart—and perhaps necessary?—trajectory for a niche, fashion-focused brand. 

“Our online growth has allowed us to make this investment in our company and open the showroom retail space,” says Kahn. “Additionally, we can keep our sharp prices and low margins [because] the collection will still be sold through our direct-to-consumer model. Our markup won’t change, and AUrate will still have our unique value proposition.”

(Photo courtesy of AUrate)

JCK Magazine Editor