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Jewelry e-tailer Gemvara pockets $25 million in new funding

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 4, 2012 08:00 AM

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How much investor interest is there in Gemvara, the Boston-based seller of customizable jewelry? Chief executive Matt Lauzon, right, says that the company just "raised twice as much as we thought we were going to raise" in its latest dance with the VCs. The new round, totaling $25 million, was led by Sergio Monsalve, a former eBay executive who is now a partner at Norwest Venture Partners in Palo Alto.

Gemvara was started by Lauzon and Jason Reuben in 2006, while the duo were undergrad students at Babson College, and originally incubated by Highland Capital Partners. (I first wrote about the company in 2008.) The Gemvara site displays about two million items, but the company doesn't own any inventory. The pictures you see online are computer-generated, and the jewelry is manufactured only after you place an order.

"We think the market is moving toward made-to-order, and a very personalized experience," Lauzon says. "We want to lead that." The new funding will go toward expanding the products the site offers — adding bracelets, for instance, and more products at an entry-level price point. "We're also continuing to improve the user experience and our own analytics," he says. The company has 75 employees, and is setting up a more permanent presence in Manhattan, Lauzon says, where most of Gemvara's products are manufactured.

Gemvara raised $15 million last spring, led by the British VC firm Balderton Capital. (All of Gemvara's previous investors, including Cambridge-based Highland Capital, participated in this latest round.) In total, the company has now collected about $50 million in funding. Lauzon has recruited executives from Rue La La, Zappos, and Victoria's Secret, among other established e-tailers. Last year, Lauzon was named to Inc. Magazine's list of 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30 (he's 27.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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