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Lab-Grown Diamonds: Pioneering Transparency in the Jewellery Industry

Lab-Grown Diamonds: Pioneering Transparency in the Jewellery Industry

In the early stages of Lark & Berry's journey, founder Laura Chavez was captured in the crosshairs of traditional diamond advocates. In 2018, just months after the brand's launch, Chavez received a letter co-signed by the London Diamond Bourse and the National Association of Jewellers, questioning the wording on her website. Unyielding in her commitment to exclusively offering laboratory-grown diamonds, Chavez chose not to back down.

Instead, she penned a defiant response, emphasising the importance of standing up for innovation in the face of resistance. Chavez reflects, "Any new, innovative field faces pushback. The intimidation was because the mined diamond industry is scared."

Lark & Berry founder Laura Chavez

Lark & Berry founder Laura Chavez

The battle didn't end there. In 2023, Lark & Berry faced scrutiny once again, this time from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Chavez recalls her initial reaction, saying, "When I saw it, I was like, ‘OK . . . another one of these people telling us we need to change our terminology’." The ASA demanded changes in wording to clearly label products as laboratory-grown diamonds, in line with industry guidelines.

Despite the challenges, Chavez recognised the importance of compliance. She acknowledges, "Shoppers tend to search for 'laboratory-grown diamonds' rather than 'cultured diamonds', so I see it as beneficial for the brand’s online search engine optimisation." The case was informally resolved in February, marking a compromise in the ongoing battle for terminology.

However, Lark & Berry's experience was not unique. The single complaint to the ASA came from the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), a marketing body funded by the diamond industry. Chavez notes, "Executives employed by the NDC trawled through the websites, ad campaigns, and social media profiles of brands it deemed to be disregarding what it considered to be the correct terminology to build cases against them." She feels this aggressive approach highlights the industry's desperation to maintain control over the diamond narrative.

In a recent Financial Times article in which Chavez was quoted on these matters, David Kellie, NDC’s chief executive, provided a comment:

“We are pleased that the Advertising Standards Authority has reinforced the need to ensure that consumers clearly understand when they are buying a laboratory-grown and not a natural diamond. Unfortunately, as seen in the complaints filed, there are some retailers who use language that is intended to confuse consumers and, given the significant and growing price difference between laboratory grown and natural diamonds, this will leave the consumers feeling misled by their purchase. It is important that all retailers clearly disclose the nature of the product that they are selling.”

Chavez finds Kellie’s perspective to be not only unfair but also deeply misguided. In response to his comments regarding the need for clarity in distinguishing between laboratory-grown and mined diamonds, Chavez asserts that the issue at hand is not about deception but rather about transparency and consumer choice.

Kellie's statement can risk implying a blanket assumption that lab-grown brands are attempting to mislead consumers—an assertion that Chavez vehemently opposes. "It's unfair to generalise and suggest that many, if honestly any, lab-grown brands are trying to trick customers," Chavez argues. "The reality is that many of us, like Lark & Berry, proudly disclose the fact that we exclusively use lab-grown diamonds. We see it as a selling point, not a secret to be hidden."

A lab-grown diamond

Lark & Berry was the first designer brand to use lab-grown exclusively

Indeed, the ethos of Lark & Berry has always been rooted in transparency and integrity. From the brand's inception, Chavez has been unwavering in her commitment to offering consumers an ethical and sustainable alternative to mined diamonds. "We have nothing to hide," Chavez emphasises. "Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, and we make that abundantly clear to our customers."

Moreover, Chavez challenges the notion, fundamentally, that there is a need to "reinforce" the distinction between lab-grown and mined diamonds. "Lab-grown diamonds stand on their own merits and are as real as any mined diamond," she asserts. "Not to mention, consumers are increasingly aware of the ethical and environmental implications of their purchasing decisions. They deserve to make informed choices based on accurate information, not fear-mongering tactics."

In light of these considerations, Chavez calls for a more nuanced understanding of the lab-grown diamond industry—one that recognises the diversity of brands and their respective approaches to transparency. "It's time to move beyond outdated narratives and embrace the future of the diamond industry," she declares. "Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay, and it's high time we celebrate their contributions to a more sustainable and equitable world."


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