Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui were brunching at Café Gitane in Nolita when Sophie mentioned the trouble she’d been having with a Pucci ring she’d recently bought. “It turned my finger green,” she remembers. “We realized, you know, it’s so crazy. Either you spend a fortune on fine jewelry, or you buy artificial, brass- or copper-based costume jewelry and end up with green skin!”
The friends, Dutch-born Kahn and Moroccan-born Ezzahraoui, met while studying finance at Princeton, and had both been working on the business side of high fashion. They saw a gap in the market for affordable fine jewelry, and so, about a year ago, the delicate-yet-edgy AUrate was born: ethically sourced gold jewelry that suits a pair of jeans just as well as a ball gown, designed by Kahn and sold online. “The reason why it’s affordable is because instead of paying to stock it in department stores, we’ve cut out the middleman,” Kahn said. Temporarily veering from this model is their pop-up store on Bedford Avenue, where they’ll be set up for the holidays until December 20.
Much like the socially conscious Warby Parker — which ensures that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is donated to someone in need — for every purchase made at AUrate, a book is donated to an economically disadvantaged child in America. “The Netherlands has a very good education system,” said Kahn. “Some people ask us why we don’t give to Morocco, but it’s the U.S. that educated us and helped us launch our careers. So we wanted to give back in some way. We wanted to create something real, something with integrity.”
At the moment, AUrate is Kahn and Ezzahraoui’s passion project. “Everything we make is going back into the business.” For Kahn, it’s a creative experiment. While a professional jewelry designer translates her ideas to computer-aided design, the designs themselves are hers. “It’s not so difficult if you know what you like. And I had a very clear idea of where I wanted to take this.”
Her vision has paid off: AUrate has been featured in Vogue, Elle, W and Cosmopolitan among others, while The Zoe Report dubbed AUrate jewelry’s it-brand. Their Rose Gold Geometric Bar earrings recently graced the lobes of Faith Hill at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and Jessica Alba was spotted icing a cupcake in their Crossover Ring.
AUrate, 188 Bedford Ave., nr. N. 7th St., Williamsburg; open through Dec. 20