Launched in November 2018, Kimaï is a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand using lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold, aiming to bring transparency, innovation and inclusivity to a consciously-minded generation of consumers. “Diamonds are still being marketed to men, fine jewelry stores remain unapproachable and intimidating, and design and quality come with a high price-tag,” says co-founder Jessica Warch. “It’s time for a change.”
Today, the brand announces a $1.2 million seed funding round led by Talis Capital. Investors in the company include fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, the Head of the Facebook App, Fidji Simo, and billionaire businessman Xavier Niel. Early adopters of the brand include The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Emma Watson and Jessica Alba. Founders are Antwerp-raised, 26-year-old childhood friends Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus. Having grown up to diamond-trading families, and disillusioned by the controversies and outdated practices that have plagued the industry, they questioned how they might set about changing it.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,” says cofounder Sidney Neuhaus.
The duo was particularly concerned with the uncertainty and opacity surrounding diamonds. “It is almost impossible to know where our diamonds come from,” says Warch, “and child labour is sadly still a reality.” The pair started to look for alternatives and discovered lab-grown diamonds. “We are not talking about cubic zirconia or crystals, but diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to their mined counterparts,” explains Neuhaus, “without the environmental or social impact.”
Matus Maar, co-founder and managing partner at Talis Capital, a London-based VC says: “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 87 billion traditional diamond industry.”
With lab-grown diamonds, Neuhaus and Warch were able to bring to life their desire for ethical fine jewelry without having to compromise on quality or design. Kimaï is a brand made for their generation, who engages increasingly with transparent brands that have purpose and meaning. The pieces are handmade in Antwerp, using the highest-quality lab-grown diamonds and 18k recycled gold. By selling directly to customers online, Kimaï is able to offer the same quality found at luxury jewelers, at a fraction of the price.
The company leverages a millennial-friendly drop model to introduce new pieces on a monthly basis and focuses on a carefully curated selection of unique designs with quality and design over quantity. “Our pieces are made to order, which enables us to respond quickly to our customers’ evolving demands and wants,” Warch explains.