Lark & Berry, which sells gorgeous jewellery made from lab grown diamonds and gems, is about to open the world’s first physical store for non-mined precious stones in Marylebone, London.
Are lab grown diamonds the ethical alternative for luxurious jewellery we’ve been waiting for? Lark & Berry would say hell yes.
Diamonds are created by applying severe heat and pressure to carbon molecules. Naturally, the process can take hundreds of thousands to billions of years.
Previously, diamonds have only existed underground and been mined in often dangerous and unethical conditions. Aside from the issues around ‘conflict’ or ‘blood’ diamonds, the actual diamond mining affects not only the communities nearby but the landscape and environment – there’s erosion, sinkholes, deforestation, pollution, biodiversity loss – we could go on.
However, it’s no longer the only way to satisfy our need for a bit of sparkle.
“Cultured diamonds are created in a process which exactly replicates how diamonds form naturally in a mine – by applying severe heat and pressure to carbon,” explains Laura Chavez, founder at Lark & Berry. “Once you have your rough diamond, you then have to cut and polish it like you would a mined diamond.
Chemically and optically, these diamonds are absolutely no different than mined diamonds. Jewellers and gemologists cannot distinguish them from their mined counterparts — because there is literally no difference. It’s truly amazing.”
Lark & Berry has developed its own process to create diamonds and other gems in an artificial environment, it’s not a quick but one that’s worth its weight in gold…or well, diamonds.
“Some of the larger diamonds can take months to grow but the time it takes is certainly worth it for a more ethically sourced and just-as-beautiful product,” she explains.
“Demand for Lark & Berry jewellery has been high since we started our online store, so you can imagine the challenges waiting on science have posed but we love how we’re doing things and very much believe it’s the ethical route.”
While it sounds futuristic or farfetched, it’s actually just clever science. Plus the results are even better than what you’d find in the ground, with no environmental impact. Talk about conflict-free.
“The process of growing a diamond in a lab is not only cleaner, it also forms the purest category of diamond – the Type IIa – which is so rare in nature that only 2% of mined diamonds found are of this superior quality,” says Chavez.
The brand stock a large number of different collections, including demi-fine and fine, with diamonds and gems set into everything from earring studs for £150 to elaborate necklaces costing £78,000.
“The process of growing a diamond in a lab is not only cleaner, it also forms the purest category of diamond”
Lark & Berry’s stones also stack up against the three C’s of diamond buying – colour, cut and clarity.
They range between D-F in colour (D’s the highest grade possible), they’re cut specifically to dazzle and finally they’re so flawless that the cultured diamonds are eye-clean – meaning they might have natural marks but they’re impossible to see to the naked eye and are graded a minimum of VS+.
Diamonds hold a special place in our hearts, thanks to decades of clever advertising from the cartel of diamond companies but if a lab grown one is the same as a mined one, without the devastating impact, wouldn’t you choose the former?
“We’ve all been manipulated over the years by the big jewellery companies’ advertising to think that mined diamonds have the highest monetary and emotional value. Now that perception is changing and it’s a great thing.
Another great thing too, is that with lab-grown diamonds, there’s no monopoly on the market as there is with mined diamonds. Prices become much more accessible and extremely competitive in the luxury world. I want Lark & Berry diamonds to be for everyone who wants luxury jewellery and our prices reflect that.”
Chavez is on a mission to spread the word…that all that glitters isn’t good when it comes to our planet.
“I’ve met senior jewellers with a wealth of experience in this industry who weren’t aware of the lab-grown process. When they find out this is an option, they get excited too and share the news with associates and customers.
People want a safer, cleaner planet and products that reflect that care. We’ve had so many customers thank us for doing things differently.”
Diamonds might be forever, but they no longer have to cost the earth.
Discover Lark & Berry in Marylebone at 52 George St, W1U 7EA, London, from 1 August 2018, with stores to follow in New York and Hong Kong.