Meet Madeline Fraser: The Founder of Gemist Has Built The Warby Parker Of Diamonds
The 3-time start-up founder is going all in on natural diamonds.By Jane Asher |
For Gemist Founder Madeline Fraser, creating a brand new company with the consumer experience in the forefront was nothing new. “I am a three-time startup founder, so all I’ve actually ever done is create and grow startups,” she exclusive told Only Natural Diamonds over dinner in the West Village.
“I started my first company when I was in college as a fine art and interior architecture major,” she explained. “This was in like 2012/2013 and I saw a niche for online interior design. People were telling me there’s no way in the whole world anyone to ever buy a sofa online,” she recalled with a laugh. “And I mean, come on, look where we are now.”
As her online interior design company was taking off—and even being featured on Shark Tank!—Fraser was taking big steps in her personal life as well. “I was actually in the process of getting engaged at the time and I started Googling ‘design your own jewelry online,’” she said. “I basically thought Gemist already existed, and I was super surprised that I was unable to find anything that was fun, interesting and easy online.”
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Though able to find some online resources, Fraser wasn’t impressed with what she felt was outdated technology. “It was like no one had tapped into how to change this industry or make it modern.”
Like so many of us engaged-to-be-engaged folks out there, Fraser ended up working with a diamond wholesaler to create her custom engagement ring. “He turned the ring around in about two weeks and I was like, ‘wait a second, so you can actually make custom jewelry quickly and affordably?’ That was my ah-ha moment,” she explained.
Enter Gemist, an online hub for custom fine jewelry and engagement rings with a seamless user experience. “I wanted to breathe life back into jewelry and throw those sterile brands out the window and have a little bit more fun.” After just a few minutes on the app, I was instantly hooked, designing a few different engagement rings, just for the fun of it.
Here’s how it works. On the Gemist website, you can select up to three styles out of 18 to try on at home. Within each of the styles on offer, you can customize what type of stone you want in the center and the setting metal. Each of the styles offers something unique: a diamond halo, a pavé band, an East-West setting and so much more.
After you decide on the three try-on styles, Gemist will send you a faux version of each of your rings. “I really wanted to touch and feel these pieces before making a purchase,” Fraser said of her home try-on model. “What if I could just wear them for a minute and show my friends and family? I might realize I’m not an emerald cut girl, or I may realize I want something else entirely,” she mused.
After you decide which style is for you, you can design your custom ring directly on the Gemist website. If you’re looking for something even more custom, Gemist’s ‘On The Hunt’ feature lets you work with a stylist directly to source and design your one-of-a-kind ring.
“It’s just a fun way to really get what you want without the risk and the stress behind it.” With Gemist, you’ll really get to know your ring and be 100% confident in your purchase. An important piece of the puzzle when you’re buying something as important as your engagement ring.
Plus, Gemist plans to roll out the try-on process for more fine jewelry categories, not just engagement rings in the future. Even better, you can actually keep your try-on version for travel, working out or just weekend trips to the beach.
And of course, Gemist only uses ethically sourced, sustainable natural diamonds. “They’re completely rare, they’re made in the Earth. I mean, what a special thing,” she said.
“We don’t manufacture overseas, we manufacture completely in L.A.,” Fraser told me. “We have partners we’ve been working with for a long time and I think that integrity is also very important to the word sustainability.”
2022 will be a big year for Fraser and the brand as they grow their partnership with DeBeers, “to tell a new kind of natural diamond story,” she explained. “It’s a very black and white conversation, and it needs nuance and I think that that’s really what I’m excited about.”