Q&A WITH JESSICA WARCH - CO-FOUNDER OF KIMAI
Kimai is a fine jewellery brand with a sustainable twist; they use lab grown diamonds for their stunning pieces. As they tell us in this interview, there is no structural difference between a lab grown diamond and a conventional diamond, it’s just they can be more ethical and kinder to the earth. Something we’re all in for…
What was it that lead you to start Kimai?
We both come from Antwerp, from diamond trading families. Over time the many controversies surrounding the industry quickly made us realise that the industry wasn’t fitted for our generation of consciously minded millennials looking for experiences and stories behind brands. We struggled to find brands that respond to our needs and wants - high-end fine jewellery without compromising on sustainability, design or pricing.
Can you tell us the difference between a regular diamond and a Kiami diamond?
A mined diamond and a lab grown diamond are chemically and physically identical. It’s impossible to tell them apart with the naked eye. Only a sophisticated machine can tell the difference. We see it as a newly discovered mine.
How does sustainability play a part in your business?
We try to put sustainability at the heart of everything we do - from the diamonds, to our packaging. Transparency is vital for us but we do strongly believe that nobody’s perfect. Unfortunately in the world we live in today, being 100% sustainable is close to impossible but every small step can help us improve our world.
What’s the highlight of running your own business? Dare we ask what the lowlights are?!
The happy customers. A piece of jewellery brings joy and confidence to many women and being part of that keeps us motivated every day. Moreover, trying to disrupt an old fashion industry through education and sustainability drives us.
Of course there are lowlights as entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey with many ups and many downs. The hardest part is not knowing what tomorrow will be made of but that’s what makes it exciting as well.
Tell us about your journey to being a fine jewellery designer.
Growing up surrounded by jewellery and stones has played a huge role in our love for beautiful jewellery. We wanted to create high quality pieces for everyday, refined, timeless yet playful. We want our customers to express their own style with our jewellery by mix and matching, layering and stacking.
We feel bare without our jewellery on - what is it about beautiful jewellery that you think is so empowering to women? And is empowerment something you think about when designing a new collection?
Kimai is all about female empowerment. While our Dads would buy our Mums jewellery, today women are independent, working women and can afford their own pieces. But the industry is still promoted as being something that’s gifted by a man to a woman. We definitely think of empowerment in our collection as we want women to feel good and confident when wearing the pieces, which is something we struggled to find on the market ourselves.
What’s your sustainability pledge for the future?
Sustainability is a core value at Kimai, and we are always trying to do better. We are now actively working on using 100% recycled 18K gold for our jewellery. We are also using our voice to encourage our audience to make better choices, and put our planet first.
We started Stay Wild Swim because of our passion for the ocean. How would you describe your relationship with the ocean?
We are fascinated by the ocean. It’s not only a source of inspiration, but it’s where we find our peace and calmness. The ocean is the largest eco-system on earth and it is the planet’s life support system. It is our common responsibility to protect it.