2013 Wharton MBA graduate Ajay Anand wants to use artificial intelligence to transform the way diamonds are purchased.
Anand is the founder of Rare Carat, a start-up launched last October that bills itself as the “kayak.com of diamonds,” allowing users to browse through diamonds from different retailers in the same way that travel search engine KAYAK allows users to search for travel deals.
Users can filter the search based on price range and quality. Each diamond that appears on the search results is rated between one and five based on how good a deal it is.
Anand was inspired to create Rare Carat after he tried to buy a diamond to propose to his wife.
“Like most people, I had zero knowledge about how to properly buy a diamond when I started,” he said. “I was blown away when I realized no one had built a good tool to help with this process. It was such an obvious product to be built.”
That being said, setting up Rare Carat has not been without challenges. Anand has to persuade users to search for diamonds on the website as well as to buy them online. Over nine out of ten millennials search for diamonds online, but the vast majority end up buying in-shop, according to Forbes.
Rare Carat is trying to change this trend by making shopping for diamonds online easier than in person.
Rare Carat uses IBM technology on a program they call “Rocky” that helps with the search process, Anand said. In a text conversation, Rocky talks with every user about what they are looking for in their ideal diamond, explains what each property of a diamond is and shows users diamonds that fit their wants.
Anand added that Rocky learns from every search and is widening its knowledge of gemology.
Since launching last year, Rare Carat has helped more than 400,000 users search for diamonds. The average diamond listed in search results costs $12,000.
The diamond industry has traditionally been plagued with issues of ethics. The United Nations has discouraged the distribution of conflict diamonds which are "diamonds illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa."
To address this, Rare Carat limits its searches to conflict-free diamonds. The company states on its website that it is able to "do something about [ethical sourcing] from the inside." One of their measures is having vendors guarantee that they will only supply conflict-free diamonds.
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