Jewelry brand Vrai opens first U.S. store in Los Angeles – WWD

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True opened today at 8472-A Melrose Place in Los Angeles.

“Melrose felt really good about our brand,” said Vrai CEO Mona Akhavi. “Sure, Melrose Place is an iconic street, but it also has that timeless luxury and west coast feel.”

It is the first US site for the fine jewelry brand – which produces synthetic diamonds created in-house in Washington and California with zero emissions, according to the company.

True, launched online in 2014, unveiled its first physical location in Shanghai last year. He is now looking to expand to San Francisco, home of producer Diamond Foundry, as well as internationally. (The company now sells online to Germany, France, Spain, and the UK, although the US accounts for 90% of total sales.)

The new space, with porcelain stoneware floors, is inspired by the look of an art gallery, Akhavi said. It’s supposed to feel accessible, though, she noted. The pieces are placed on convenient metallic and geometric hooks, presented in custom-made wooden frames inspired by 1970s sculptures by artist Donald Judd.

Vrai was launched online in 2014.
Courtesy

“It’s up to clients to figure it all out, to understand the meaning, the origins, how it’s made,” Akhavi said of the physical space. “I want this to be a place where people can learn more about the brand, our diamonds, our certification. We are the first producer to be certified neutral, and how and why that matters.

This leaves less of an environmental footprint than mined diamonds, she said, and True – by growing its own diamonds and controlling the entire supply chain with an in-house team – provides transparency and guarantees that the materials are sourced responsibly. The company uses recycled gold and the packaging is compostable, she added.

“In traditional jewelry, the diamond can trade 15 hands, from the miner to the distributor, to the buyer, to the wholesaler until it reaches the creator,” Akhavi continued. “And unfortunately, each time it’s marked out. And that markup is not going to come back to the community or the environment it came from. It is actually passed on to the consumer.

For the direct-to-consumer business, the store allows consumers to see the pieces in person – especially key for those who have yet to embrace lab-created diamonds.

True

Take a look at the unisex line, created in partnership with stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn.
Courtesy

Designed by architect Cass Calder Smith, the space (featuring iPads and two private back rooms) currently features the brand’s collaboration with Amanda Hearst (which has a charitable component), as well as a partnership with stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn – a unisex line worn by celebrities like Adam Levine, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie.

There are also Vrai’s signature designs and offerings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets – and engagement rings, sales of which have worked particularly well for the company, “3X” during the pandemic.

“I think it was for several reasons,” Akhavi said. “Retail was down, but consumers also started to make more conscious choices. “

Couples have bought larger stones than in the past, 1.5 to 2 carats on average, she said, with emerald, marquise and oval cuts being the most popular. Prices start at $ 2,500 for rings, while necklaces start at $ 500.

“The pandemic has not affected our sales, as our main selling point is the website,” Akhavi said. “We’re an online brand to begin with. And we were on the path to growth.

The company has focused on engaging consumers on social media and online with their virtual dates, which have increased fivefold since the onset of COVID-19. They also started offering personalization two months after the onset of the health crisis, allowing consumers to choose diamond shapes (they have 17 in total) and sizes of their choice for necklaces and earrings. .

“People really like that they can choose the stone for themselves,” Akhavi said, adding that they had a 40% customer return rate.

“Even though we didn’t have a showcase [then], our customer service and sales team, our social media team are very much in touch with our customers, ”she said. “We are first and foremost a technology company… We can scale quickly. “

The Vrai store is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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