Last week venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, announced that they had led a $5.1m series A investment round in ‘smart jewelry’ start up, Ringly, along with Highline Ventures, PCH, First Round Capital, and other early investors.
Ringly is one of the new set of start ups that are merging jewelry with technology with the intention to make wearables both fashionable and invisible (the ‘wearable’ part being fashionable and the ‘technology’ part being invisible) since a common complaint about wearables is that they are, actually, unwearable to the fashion-conscious. Looking at you, Google Glass.
Ringly makes smart jewelry for women and has launched with a high-tech gold ring made of semi-precious stones that buzzes and lights up when the wearer receives a phone call or text. Ringly’s tech offering of Bluetooth notifications from the wearer’s smartphone is similar to other smart jewelry startups such as Cuff, Kovert Designs and MEMI, and also more established fashion brands such as Rebecca Minkoff’s partnership with Case-Mate.
In other words, the smart jewelry market is far from saturation and if the designs can bring style (as in, people want to wear them regardless of whether they’re ‘smart’ or not) as well as function then the potential market size is huge. It’s still early days for smart jewelry but backing from Andreessen Horowitz – which backed Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest in their early days – and the move by luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Ralph Lauren to make their traditional products ‘smart’ illustrates that this is where the jewelry and wider fashion industries are headed. Expect a lot more investment announcements in smart jewelry in 2015.