Finer things from NYC: AUrate
I've been talking a lot about investing in your jewellery box. I'd like to think it as your modern heirlooms. To be clear, just because fine jewellery is quality doesn't mean it can't be modern and cool. During in my recent trip to New York, I stepped into the new AUrate store on Madison Avenue. A place with very modern and stylish take on gold and diamonds. These are the pieces you'd wear to a Sunday brunch, boozy nights, or the perfect first date. They are exactly what I've been looking for -- my finer things.
推開玻璃大門，復古的黑膠唱片音樂隨著飄來，微暗的燈光播著美麗的投影片。一踏進位於麥迪遜大道的 AUrate 店面，在熱鬧非凡的大蘋果紐約裡，找到一首清新卻個性十足的旋律。同為美國普林斯頓碩士班的商學系學生，Sophie Kahn 與 Bouchra Ezzahraui 在短短的一年中發現了彼此對於時尚的熱情，進而決定共同創立珠寶品牌 AUrate。「AU」，如果你熟悉化學，那勢必會發現品牌引自元素週期表的黃金符號，這也是品牌最常見的材料；而「Rate」則有著等級之意，表示兩人對於手中設計的品質堅持。
Former classmates from Princeton, Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraui discovered their shared interest in fashion. And AUrate was born through a New York brunch, a direct-to-customer fine jewellery brand, offering luxurious and lasting baubles with affordable price points. Two years ago since the launch, the brand had successfully attracted a significant amount of followers. AU -- the gold in the periodic table; and Rate -- meaning the rate of return and high quality. Pronounce it like Orate, which also refers to storytellers.
Understated, Core, and Statment, are the three main categories of AUrate. A trio perfectly put together by quality and design. The overall impression is simple chic -- classy, sophisticated, arty and with just the right amount of modernism. While touring their new store, looking through the pieces I've already thought of so many outfits. For me, the Black Stones Necklace with the black Equipment blouse will do. Or, the Geometric Bar Ring and the knit dress in my closet sounds like a good pair too. That's the thing about jewellery, it's a beautiful connection to emphasise your personal taste. It puts your outfit together, if it weren't already.
自從兩年前的品牌開幕，AUrate 便成功吸引了一批忠實客群。品牌主要分成三個風格：低調經典的 Understated Series、極簡有力的 Core Series 以及前衛摩登的 Statement Series。三種截然不同的風貌，宛如樂曲三重奏，交織出令人著迷的美麗的樂章。當然，除了設計，AUrate 在品質上也有著一定的堅持。從精緻的14與18K金、鑽石一直到較為少見的朱紅鍍金，都是品牌善用的技巧。她們相信，一件美麗質感良好的珠寶，不單單能為外表加分，也能由內而外的使女人更自信亮麗。
在一開始的籌備時期，雖然兩人都偏好摩登簡約的現代風，Sophie 和 Bouchra 起初並不曉得要往哪個領域發展。經歷了好幾場的討輪與實地考察，他們發現美國的時裝市場在許多層面其實都已經達到飽和。相反地，飾品與珠寶都依然有著極豐富的開發空間。Sophie Kahn 表示「在紐約蘇活區，中端價位的服裝比比皆是，但反觀珠寶品牌，似乎還是少了點。所以，我們決定填補市場的這段空白。」
I like to think any sorts of design as an idea of narrative. And the muse is crucial -- the person or place that pulls the customers through the story from start to finish. In AUrate, one of their biggest inspiration comes from New York women, and they sure know how to help a woman make an entrance. As I read from an interview, the Core line's inspiration comes from the inspiration of working women. Pieces not only for 9 to 5 office hours but also a casual drink after work. In that sense, even New York itself is a place loaded with creativity. There's always a new exhibition, a gallery launch, and of course, the endless Broadway show nights. I mean, and I know I've said it before...New York is just so inspiring.
AUrate 起自紐約，而紐約女人自然而然變成了他們的靈感來源。Sophie 與 Bouchra 也就是看著她們的不同生活樣貌，來進行發想。譬如，樣式簡約的戒指，適合朝九晚五的上班族，簡單卻不無聊，就算下班後去小酌一會兒，也不必更換。又或著，輕鬆有趣的項鍊手環，則是週末與朋友喝咖啡小聚的首選。當然，靈感可以來自生活上的任何一個環節，一場藝術展覽啟發，或是午夜電影的觀後感，都曾經是品牌許多設計的前身。就如同 AUrate很受歡迎的長條型耳環與項鍊，是兩位品牌創始人，在一同欣賞蝴蝶夫人時，被其美麗的場景吸引，進而研發出這項眾人喜愛的作品。
After an hour of stacking rings and styling necklaces, I realized saving up for certain pieces rather than splurging on impulses is probably the most worthwhile lesson I've learned through my wardrobe journey. Despite the size or metal, I know there will be a time in the future, somewhere around the world where I'm still in my t-shirt and favorite ripped jeans, and wearing the black diamond ring I ordered. That's my plan. x
在參觀 AUrate 新的分店時，當天接待的店員特別提到，他們在商業策略上也有著自己的一套。他們繞過中間商，直接與顧客接軌；也就是說，從設計、經營到販賣，都由他們一手包辦，將熱騰騰、剛製作好的飾品，不經由第三方，直接透過官方網站與實體店面，交到顧客手中。雖然商業行銷的專業我不並擅長，聽了好一會兒也似懂非懂；不過以一個客人的角度，我認為 AUrate 的親切，是著重在整體的品牌形象。拿起一枚心儀的戒指試試，自始至終，店員都是揚著嘴角解說著。啊，好不真實的感覺，原來配戴高級珠寶，也能是件如此平易近人的事。
shot on Nikon Df with 50mm lens.