By Ashley Davis
Aurate co-founders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn
New York--Aurate, the fine jewelry line that sells directly to consumers at wholesale prices--without a retail markup--announced it has received $2.6 million in seed funding.

“We don’t believe in cutting corners,” co-founder Bouchra Ezzahraoui explained of Aurate’s retail model. “Rather, we found a smarter way to do things and customers have taken notice.”

So have investors.

The brand was launched in 2015 by Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn, who met while pursuing master’s degrees in finance at Princeton.

Aurate’s first collection sold out within a few days, and profits have risen an average of 300 percent in the last three quarters, the company said.

The brand boasts a pop-up boutique on Madison Avenue in New York City; all product is manufactured nearby in the Diamond District. Aurate also says its materials are sourced from conflict-free regions.

The company received the $2.6 million in funding from Arab Angel Fund and Victress Capital, plus several anonymous angel investors.

“Aurate is taking the fine jewelry market by storm,” said Omar Darwazah, a general partner at Arab Angel Fund. “Laser-focused on user experience, the company’s direct-to-consumer model is helping ‘democratize’ the gold jewelry market and is already disrupting the traditional model for the luxury category.

“The company’s ‘impact purchasing’ strategy places it in the same tier as Casper and Warby Parker but for fine jewelry. I’m excited to add Aurate to Arab Angel Fund’s growing direct-to-consumer portfolio of companies, which today includes Tamara Mellon Brand and Stowaway Cosmetics.”

Victress Capital partner Lori Cashman added: “We look for strong, tenacious and driven female founders--Bouchra and Sophie are all of these (things) and they are extremely intelligent with complementary skill sets; we were able to check that box in the first 60 seconds of meeting them.”

Victress Capital is invested in brands such as Daily Harvest and The Nue Co.

With its newly acquired funding, Aurate plans to open up more pop-up retail locations on both coasts of the United States over the next 12 months. In the same period, they expect to hire 25 more employees.

The new hires will include a marketing team.

It’s an interesting change for the company.

Up to now, Aurate’s strategy has revolved around its lack of a retail and marketing markup--the company says it hasn’t had a marketing budget in the past--with all costs being relegated to operations and production.

“This capital will allow us to continue providing customers an innovative, seamless experience when it comes to their jewelry purchases,” Ezzahraoui said.

Kahn commented: “Today’s customer wants it all, and rightfully so. The product needs to look great, the quality needs to be impeccable, the value needs to be sharp, and the brand needs to have a positive impact on the wider world.

“I believe this combination helped us grow at the rate that we did.”

Aurate was recently nominated for a Women’s Jewelry Association Award for Excellence in the newly introduced “Open Format Retail” category.

Award winners will be revealed live later this month at the WJA’s Awards for Excellence gala in New York.

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