De Beers increases investment in ‘Try-and-Buy’ jewelry company

Los Angeles—De Beers Group Ventures is investing more in online jewelry retailer Gemist, which specializes in “try and buy” technology.

The diamond company’s venture capital arm participated in a $3 million seed funding round led by Entrada Ventures.

De Beers first invested an undisclosed amount in the business in July 2020.

Julie Henley McNamara, managing partner of Entrada, will join Gemist’s board of directors alongside Stephen Lussier of De Beers, who is expected to retire this spring.

Gemist CEO Madeline Fraser sat down for a Zoom interview with National Jeweler on Wednesday to talk about what she plans to do with this latest round of funding.

Madeline Fraser is the founder and CEO of Gemist.

On the Gemist website, customers can create a custom jewelry design and then receive a free replica of the piece, allowing them to try it on and wear it before finalizing the purchase.

Fraser, which specializes in creating technology for consumers, is looking to bolster the platform’s technology to simplify the process of buying jewelry online.

“We’ve already built a very dynamic design experience on our platform that’s mobile and web friendly,” she said.

“There will be a lot more user experience and UI development based on a ton of user testing that we do, which will make this even more exciting and easier to use.”

The company has received feedback from customers who indicated when creating a piece that they wish they could see multiple pieces at once, such as stackable rings or what multiple earrings would look like on a person with multiple piercings. .

“We’re going to be working on unique ways to allow consumers to really see that picture as a whole, not just an individual piece, but multiple pieces, as we grow and evolve,” Fraser said.

While customers are increasingly comfortable buying jewelry online, Gemist’s try-before-you-buy approach reduces risk for the more cautious shopper.

Fraser describes it as “a good compromise” between technology and a personalized touch.

The founder also plans to expand the Gemist team, which now numbers fewer than five people.

“We really are a start-up. I run businesses in a very disjointed and efficient way,” Fraser said.

And Gemist is not his first start-up. She previously launched Zoom Interiors, an interior design platform that has been featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and Hutch, a “try before you buy” mobile app for furniture.

Business Insider named Fraser one of The best female entrepreneurs under 30 to watch in 2021 and she did Forbes Next 1000 List 2021.

As for her growing team, she is looking to add people to the marketing, merchandising and engineering departments.

Gemist will invest in its marketing department as it seeks to establish more affiliate and brand partnerships and create more publicity.

With its new funding, Gemist is looking to boost its publicity.

With its new funding, Gemist is looking to boost its publicity.

When looking for a brand partner, Fraser said, Gemist values ​​both diversity and sustainability.

“I really want women with different experiences and expertise in the industry because I think that’s what’s going to make it really fun, these different, eclectic, unique stories,” she said.

Sustainability is also important to the brand, she said, adding that she hopes to reframe the conversation around this topic.

“We work alongside De Beers. We are very aware of sustainability and the positive social and environmental impact jewelry can have in the world. We want to shed light on all of this and remove the BS.

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The point where durability and storytelling meet is Gemist’s sweet spot.

“What we’re trying to do is bring meaning and storytelling back to jewelry and let go of that idea of ​​fast fashion,” Fraser said.

People like to share the meaning of their favorite jewelry, like a gift from a friend or a piece that marks a special occasion, but brands aren’t as good at telling those stories, Fraser said.

“You can actually create jewelry that tells your story and is an extension of who you are. It can be done sustainably. It can be made with responsibly sourced materials. It can be handmade exactly to you.

Moon and Stars Necklace by Gemist

Moon and Stars Necklace by Gemist

During the Zoom call, Fraser wore Gemist Moon and Stars Necklacewhich she herself designed in honor of her late mother, an ode to the power of storytelling.

“She always used to say she was the moon and we were her stars, which was me and my siblings,” Fraser explained.

The coin is customizable, allowing users to add gems and choose the number of stars.

One of the most important pieces Fraser ever created was his own custom morganite engagement ring, which is where his jewelry journey began.

She met a jeweler in downtown Los Angeles, crammed into a small room. And while the ring was lovely, the experience left something to be desired.

“I thought the experience was a disappointment. It was tough and overwhelming, but what surprised me was in the end, the guy made the ring in two weeks,” she said .

“It was exactly what I wanted and affordable compared to other things I had seen there. That, to me, was the really nice ‘a-ha!’ moment.”

She then realized that personalized jewelry could be made quickly and cheaply, but that the “backwards” process needed to be overhauled.

Although new to the world of jewelry, Fraser has prioritized learning and education, with the help of her clients through consumer calls and user testing.

Customers share what they would like to see, be it different cuts, settings or gemstones.

“Consumers are, in many ways, leading the merchandising path that Gemist eventually takes,” Fraser said.

As for the coming year, which is expected to see a record number of engagements and weddings, the company is preparing for a substantial influx of customers.

Gemist is primarily a technology platform, Fraser explained, so it doesn’t have to hold as much inventory as a traditional jeweler, making it easier to scale.

“It will be really fun to create new unique designs and learn from what this customer base wants in the future,” she said.

Fraser added that she felt lucky and privileged to be able to direct Gemist.

“There aren’t a lot of women doing what I do and so I think it’s good for me to represent the female energy in these two industries. [tech and jewelry]. It’s important to show other women that they can do it.

For more information about Gemist, visit the company’s website. website.


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