Austrian jeweller Swarovski, renowned for its stunning crystal designs has made the leap into the diamond market. But they’re not just selling any diamonds, their new line DIAMA features luxurious diamonds which were man-made in a laboratory instead of mined from the earth. Lab-grown diamonds have been around for some time, with the first ones emerging back in the 1950’s. These early specimens were solely for industrial use and did not have the properties we associate with fine jewellery. By the 1970’s the technology had improved to the point that jewellery was beginning to be made with lab-grown diamonds, but today, advances in technology have come so far that an expert cannot tell them apart with the naked eye.
What lab-grown diamonds offer to conscientious consumers is peace of mind that their piece of jewellery has not involved heavy mining activities which destroy the natural environment and a clear conscience from knowing that it cannot possibly be a ‘blood’ or ‘conflict’ diamond or one that has probably cost people their lives. Amnesty International claims that ‘the retail sector in particular fails to provide sufficient assurance to consumers that the diamonds they sell are conflict-free’. If you purchase lab-grown diamonds then you do not have to worry.
Swarovski, the 120-year-old company which has always kept its eye on design is not wavering in that regard even with this new development. Daniel J. Cohen, executive board member of Swarovski in conversation with JCK said “design, product quality, branding – those are our capabilities. We are focussing on the fashion self-purchasing consumer… Our testing so far…indicated that (the conflict free & environmental factors are) a supportive factor…for some consumers. We have made the decision to not really play that aspect up”. However, their corporate social responsibility charter highlights their commitment to such issues.
The DIAMA line, which is a composite of Dia for Diamond and Ama for love, has been initially released on an exclusive basis to a number of retailers in the United States. The Diama website describes the jewellery as ‘created diamonds at play, encircling a single stone, one shining stone taking center stage. A striking composition of fine jewels and gold, the precise counterbalance of light and form’. They certainly are a combination of beauty and man-made technology put to exquisite use.
One of the rings from their Signature range is designed in 18 carat white gold and features 0.98 ct diamonds, the largest stone of which is 0.41 ct. It retails at $2,750.
The only difference between this diamond ring and one mined from the earth is precisely that. The IGI, the International Gemological Institute have confirmed that ‘their quality, strength, optical finish, and overall physical and chemical properties are absolutely identical to those of natural diamonds, which grow over millions of years beneath the earth. Swarovski Created Diamonds have all the characteristics of genuine diamonds’.
Towards the end of last year, Hollywood star Leonardo di Caprio, invested in a Californian based lab grown diamond start-up. As a proud environmentalist di Caprio obviously noticed the wonderful opportunity posed by lab-grown diamonds. This move was matched by a piece written for the New York Times by former CEO of Tiffany, Michael Kowalski who reported that ‘the extraction of diamonds is still associated with human rights violations and economic exploitation’.