URU Diamonds was founded in 2010 with a desire to create beautiful, high-end jewelry using rough, conflict-free stones by a team of local artisans in Tanzania. We sit down with founder Iver Rosenkrantz to hear the story of URU’s inception and how they are shining light on Tanzania in the global jewelry market.
EDUN: What is the mission behind URU?
Iver: We are producing a high-end product and training local artisans to produce something that we can all be proud of. That is what URU is about. Each of our products is hand crafted and takes a lot of time and skill to make. All of our stones are sourced from small-scale miners, who support rural communities in Tanzania.
EDUN: How did URU come about?
Iver: URU was first conceived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, about 4 years ago when Bo [co-founder] and I met George. George had worked as a diamond dealer since his early twenties and had a lot of experience travelling the world and buying for international diamond companies.
One day we were sitting over a cup of coffee by the Indian Ocean, admiring some rough diamonds we had bought. We all loved the rough, natural stones so we decided to try to make a bracelet with a rough diamond. With gold we found a way to hold the rough stone, but we still needed the actual bracelet or strap. Walking along the beach one day, we came across a local fisherman braiding ropes before going out to sea. We studied his technique and asked him if he could do the same with thread. This is how we found Ibrahim, who is now in charge of our thread section. Together with Ibrahim we spent much time developing the URU strap. We made and cut thousands of pieces before reaching the right level.
We spent the next two years developing URU Diamonds. We invested in a few machines and used a small room in George’s apartment for all the production while Ibrahim was working under a palm tree on the beach. All of a sudden there was a growing interest in our bracelets and a year later we got our second employee and a month after that, our third.
While attending the Magic show in Las Vegas, we caught the interest of a couple of Japanese buyers who loved the collection and came to see us in Tanzania. We were growing; we found an old house in Dar es Salaam, where we started production and hired more people. We started taking on wholesaling vendors. One of the first ones was Lithos, a Greek owned jewellery store at the Kempinski (now Hyatt), one of the most high-end shops in Tanzania.
Suddenly we had an international market. This was much to the surprise of many local jewelers in the area, who had been very skeptical of our project from day one.
Today 30 people are working with URU Diamonds, and we are selling in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Lebanon, Cyprus, Japan, Canada, England and soon Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.