This Dubai start-up is making ethical jewellery accessible

April 27, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

This Dubai start-up is making ethical jewellery accessible

As the global jewellery market is estimated to surpass $330 billion [according to Statista] the demand for ethically made jewellery is increasing with consumers wanting to make informed choices. Being aware of this demand and having a deep knowledge of how e-commerce works, Basma Chaieri forayed into the world of entrepreneurship launching an ethical jewellery brand called Etika Jewels.

The private equity funded brand was launched in 2021 and has achieved quite a few milestones since then. Towards the end of 2021 the brand redesigned packaging to feature only eco-friendly and cruelty-free options such as vegan leather jewellery boxes and recycled cardboard boxes. And towards the beginning of 2023 Etika Jewels launched an additional zero-impact diamond option based on renewable energy.

Asked about what really led her to start an online ethical jewellery brand, Chaieri recounted, “Like many women around me I was looking for high-quality, fashionable jewellery that instantly elevates any look. But I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of mined diamonds. So, I started my research on eco-friendly, ethical and conflict-free alternatives and lab-grown diamonds that are chemically, physically and visually identical to mined ones, but are sustainable, conscious and more accessible in terms of pricing.”

A journey that recently culminated in Etika Jewels collaborating with Diamond Foundry – a California-based lab-grown diamond manufacturer with investment from the likes of actor and environmentalist Leonardo Di Caprio – to offer unique, carbon-neutral, lab-grown diamonds made using renewable energy.

In numbers the business is recording “fast” and “healthy” growth. “Since inception our product range has doubled. Currently we offer more than 150 styles including our capsule collections and customised items. Our customer base has tripled since year one,” Chaieri shared.

Here’s our exclusive Q&A with Chaieri.

Let’s start with the kind of challenges that you’ve had to navigate since inception.

From the beginning, we knew we had first to modernise and digitalise an industry that operated mainly offline in the traditional, physical retail environment. Having said that people are now getting more and more confident with buying fine jewellery online. It’s a matter of trust, which you gradually build through consistency and impeccable logistics. The second thing we had to cope with was convincing consumers about the real value and impact of our product. Through educational content and an interactive approach in our communication, we had to familiarise them with a new, more sustainable product that keeps all the high-quality characteristics of its mined counterpart but is free of the negative environmental impact. We had to bring this eco-friendly alternative closer to women, showing them that they can afford it and that it will make them feel better about shopping for fashion and luxury. We set out to spread the word about responsible luxury and continue to do so.

What are some key tech innovations that you’ve undertaken to ensure a great shopping experience?

The first prerequisite to deliver a great online shopping experience is to ensure that the right product reaches the right person at the right time. We achieve that level of efficiency through programmatic advertising, meaning the use of automated media buying technology instead of manual methods of digital advertising. It has greatly supported us as another tool for communicating our products and philosophy with our diverse audience. Our goal is to create content and ads relevant to each person who is looking at Etika. We trust technology in many aspects of our business, from the latest lab-grown diamond equipment to programmatic advertising, a strong social media presence, fast payment solutions and a seamless, user-friendly online shopping experience.

How are you making the overall shopping experience on Etika Jewels agile and delightful?

We try to stay close to our customers throughout their shopping journey, assisting them with choosing the right product for the right occasion or purpose. We try to learn from them through feedback that helps us to understand each person’s needs and preferences. At the same time, we respect their privacy too. We offer personal shopping services and seamless online shopping logistics. We also educate them on lab-grown diamonds, sharing the pros and cons, the full range of options and data to enable them to choose what really fits their profile and lifestyle. As a result, they are able to shop for gemstone jewellery that’s certified, guaranteed in terms of quality and cleared in terms of provenance.

What kind of sustainability centric measures have you undertaken and how do you measure the impact?

Our product itself is eco-friendly causing minimum adverse effect on the environment, and we continue to improve, offering new options that are extra-sustainable, including innovative diamond jewellery in collaboration with the Diamond Foundry. Our clients can now purchase lab-grown diamonds with zero carbon footprint thanks to renewable energy and latest technology equipment. Our packaging is also eco-friendly, including our vegan leather jewellery boxes and recycled paper shipping boxes. Plus, as part of our zero-waste strategy we operate on minimum stock offering mostly made-to-order jewellery therein making sure we produce our best-selling classic items in quantities that reflect the demand. Overall, we embrace sustainability as a cause and mission trying to involve more and more people in actions that protect the environment.

Looking ahead, what are your growth plans over the next two years?

We are already working on perfecting our international shipping logistics aiming to ship and sell our products to as many countries as possible, facilitating processes related to customs and other local regulations easily and safely. We also want to expand further in the GCC consolidating our presence and growing our customer base. Our brand is so far digital, but our plans include creating physical retail spaces and generally increasing our customer touchpoints over the next few years.

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