AU-RATE: Glitter and Glam
Walking Madison Avenue, I discover a très chic jewelry shop with the unusual name of AUrate. Thinking it might be French, I step into an elegant space with white-washed walls and gold jewelry set out on white counters. Scattered throughout the shop are books with intriguing titles and towards the back some photographic equipment.
What gives? Is AUrate a jewelry shop? A photographer’s studio? Are they getting ready for a shoot? New York is such a photogenic city that as a resident, one is accustomed to visitors snapping photos of the city, from any and all angles, and accustomed to the super-long silver Haddad cast and makeup trailers lining the streets.
That trend started with the 1988 filming of the “Dead Poets Society,” with Robin Williams as the English teacher in an all-boys preparatory school, and has continued to this day.
An attractive sales assistant explains that the photographic equipment is simply for effect. And quite an effect it is. But what’s with the books? As a former reading instructor, to find so many books mixed in with gold jewelry is something of a curiosity. Are both the books and jewelry for sale? Not exactly.
The story begins with two entrepreneurial young women who met at Graduate School at Princeton and opened AUrate in 2014 as an alternative to fine jewelry shops selling merchandise at 20 times the cost. With a contemporary aesthetic sure to please the modern woman, their mission is to sell high quality jewelry at less than half the price of their competitors by selling primarily online. To give you an idea about pricing, bracelets range from $100 to $750 for one set with stones and a flowered open-choker goes for about $350.
But there's more to the story than that. The owners wanted to offer clients the opportunity to give back to the community. To this end, the young women—one from the Netherlands, the other from Morocco—adopted a policy that for each piece a jewelry sold at AUrate, they would provide a book for an underprivileged child.
Not the books above with the enigmatic titles, but age-appropriate books. To achieve this goal, they have partnered with various schools. The customer can save on the jewelry, and, at the same time, do a good deed for a underprivileged child.
As for the name, AU represents the chemical element gold, the basis of their brand. Put it together with "rate" and you have AUrate. Pronounced 'Or-rate,' meaning 'to tell a story.'
This pop-up shop is at 958 Madison Avenue. When you hear ‘pop-up’, you ask yourself how long it will be there. That's unclear, said the sales assistant how long they would be there. What is certain is that they are opening another pop-up shop shortly in SOHO.
If you’re anywhere near the Met Breuer, check out the classic designs at this lovely shop with a touch of French style and ‘a story to tell.’ The jewelry is sold primarily online, but pieces can be purchased at the AUrate pop-ups.
That's it from your trusty reporter on the streets of New York. Remember, sharing is caring.
Merci fois mille...