Kimaï, the direct-to-consumer jewellery brand that specialises in lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold, has raised $1.2 million in a seed funding round led by London-based VC Talis Capital.
Investors in the business, which is target a new generation of fine jewellery consumer include fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, the Head of the Facebook App, Fidji Simo, former Director of Cartier France, Coralie de Fontenay and French businessman Xavier Niel.
Early adopters of the brand include The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Emma Watson and Jessica Alba.
The brand was founded by 26-year-olds Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus, who had both grown up in diamond-trading families, and had become disillusioned by the “controversies and outdated practices” that have plagued the industry.
“Diamonds are still being marketed to men, fine jewellery stores remain unapproachable and intimidating, and design and quality come with a high price-tag,” said Warch.
“It is almost impossible to know where our diamonds come from,” Warch continued, “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,” explained Neuhaus, “without the environmental or social impact.”
The direct-to-consumer model and the lab-grown diamonds enable Kimaï to sell its products at a fraction of the price of traditional brands. The brand operates on fashion-style “drop” model with new styles launched each month and each piece made to order in Antwerp.
Designer and entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff said of her investment: “I’ve been honoured to have the opportunity to support female founders on their journey of entrepreneurship. I’ve been impressed by Sidney and Jessica’s expertise and vision for the future of the diamond industry and am excited to see the impact they will make.”
Matus Maar, co-founder and managing partner at Talis Capital, added: “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.”
Talis specialises in early-stage technology companies with global potential and has invested over $600 million worth of transactions since 2009. Its portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Stu-dios, Luminance, Threads, Ynsect and Oh My Green.