Mechanical engineer Krish Himmatramka was on his first assignment for a major oil and gas firm when he had a realization that would change his life.
"I remember the first well we dug, I was shocked after a few hours we hit water—and we were going to drill for two or three weeks to hit oil. On the next well the same thing happened again. I knew a little bit about the water crisis and I was wowed that it was so easy to drill for water, but instead were going to sit there another two weeks and keep drilling," he says.
Himmatramka, who was born and raised in Houston, had spent some time in India during his childhood and knew how crucial access to water is in the developing world. His first instinct was to quit his job and found a non-profit. Eventually he decided that rather than competing with existing charities dedicated to increasing water access, he wanted to create a business where he could dedicate a portion of the proceeds to support the cause.
Around the same time, he started looking for an engagement ring for his girlfriend (now wife) and found the process frustrating. He wasn't convinced that jewelers knew enough about their sourcing to guarantee that any stone was truly conflict-free, and he felt pressured to buy. In short, he found an industry in need of disruption.
That's what led Himmatramka to found Houston-based Do Amore, a web-based engagement and wedding ring company with a commitment to his environmental and ethical values. Since launching in beta, the site has sold $2.2 million in jewelry, enough to drill 14 wells in five countries and provide drinking water for 3,600 people through donations to charity:water.
In addition to creating extra controls to make sure every gemstone is ethically sourced, Do Amore makes its rings exclusively from recycled metals since mining materials like platinum and gold can be extremely environmentally destuctive. (Fun fact: once refined to its purest form, gold and similar metals don't decrease in quality with use—gold is gold, forever, which is kinda why it's such a big deal.)
Himmatramka is also an enthusiastic supporter of lab-created gemstones: Do Amore offers diamonds, sapphires and moissanite made in labs, which comprise about 30 percent of gemstone sales. "If a customer wants a stone that's 15 or 20 million years old, that’s one thing, but lab-created stones are just as good—if not better—and more cost-effective. We love lab-created stones," he says.
But this is a jewelry line, and it's about more than just sourcing and ethics. Currently Do Amore has about 20 engagement ring designs, with plans to add a couple designs a month going forward. Most of the rings have a pretty traditional look, with a few of the more on-trend vintage designs. There's also about a dozen wedding bands for both men and women. The men's bands in particular have a modern appeal, with brushed, hammered and other textured metal finishes. Customers can also design their own custom rings, picking the stone, carat size, setting and metal with input from Do Amore's team—they'll even send you a 3-D rendering to make sure it will arrive exactly as you pictured it.
And because no one is working on commission, customer service is a hallmark. According to Himmatramka, in about 75 percent of sales in which an employee had design input, they suggested a smaller diamond than the customer had originally picked out.
"When we know what to look for, usually we can find something prettier and cheaper. We don’t really care if someone is buying a $500 or $5,000 ring—either way we get to give someone water," he says. "We're not a Tiffanys, we're just a brand making high-quality jewelry that makes a difference in someone's life."