The Diamond Disruptor

Words Ian Brown, Cre­ative Con­trib­u­tor

The name being whis­pered by fash­ion­able lips this sea­son is Lark & Berry. The self-pro­claimed “Dia­mond Dis­rup­tor” is shak­ing up the world of “bijoux” with a con­scious alter­na­tive to eth­i­cal­ly dubi­ous mined dia­monds. Cul­tured dia­monds are the future of mod­ern lux­u­ry and savvy shop­pers are con­vert­ing in their droves. 

Found­ed by Lau­ra Chavez in 2018, this new addi­tion to the fine jew­ellery mar­ket is caus­ing a stir with their strong stance on sus­tain­abil­i­ty. We caught up with her to learn about Lark & Berry’s dis­rup­tive approach to adorn­ment. 

Lau­ra Chavez, founder of Lark & Berry.

Every Lark & Berry gem is cul­tured. You may be think­ing “what exact­ly does that mean?”. The term refers to stones that have been cre­at­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry. Lau­ra told us “we now have the tech to cre­ate dia­monds and oth­er stones for jew­ellery that are every bit the same as mined stones – and immea­sur­ably bet­ter for the plan­et”. Inspired by this emerg­ing tech­nol­o­gy, she said “ I start­ed mak­ing plans right away to start the first fine, design­er brand to only use cul­tured dia­monds”.

So, in the bat­tle of mined dia­monds ver­sus cul­tured, why is cul­tured bet­ter? First­ly, cul­tured dia­monds are more pock­et-friend­ly. Accord­ing to Bril­liant Earth “lab dia­monds usu­al­ly cost about 30% less than nat­ur­al dia­monds of com­pa­ra­ble size and qual­i­ty”. They add “these dia­monds are every bit as lux­u­ri­ous as their nat­ur­al coun­ter­parts, since their daz­zling beau­ty and dura­bil­i­ty are the same”. 

For decades, adver­tis­ing agen­cies have been telling us mined dia­monds have a cov­etable allure. What they neglect­ed to men­tion is their adverse eco­log­i­cal impact. Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty stat­ed “Dia­mond min­ing has many detri­men­tal impacts on the envi­ron­ment, includ­ing soil ero­sion, defor­esta­tion and ecosys­tem destruc­tion”. On the human front, Bril­liant Earth states that mined dia­monds “inten­si­fy civ­il wars by financ­ing mil­i­taries and rebel mili­tias”. With infor­ma­tion like this on record, it’s no won­der Lark & Berry’s founder Lau­ra chose to use only cul­tured stones in her designs, exud­ing all the glam­our of mined gems (with­out the guilt).

Lau­ra’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­i­ty is ongo­ing. She informed us “We’ve worked to off­set car­bon emis­sions through our tree-plant­i­ng pro­gram. For every Lark & Berry pur­chase made, we plant fresh trees in areas most impact­ed by the dev­as­ta­tion of dia­mond min­ing”. This year she launched a fur­ther ini­tia­tive, telling us “We began a pro­gram of car­bon neu­tral ship­ping around the same time as we part­nered with a UK lab to offer dia­monds grown using 100% renew­able ener­gy. We’re also work­ing on a new line of jew­ellery box­es that are made from recy­cled mate­ri­als. We’re always research­ing every pos­si­ble means of doing more to ben­e­fit the plan­et”. 

In Feb­ru­ary, the brand teamed up with Dia­mond Foundry to cre­ate Lark & Berry X Dia­mond Foundry, a 100% car­bon neu­tral high jew­ellery suite. It doesn’t get more fab­u­lous than “Pose” TV star and LGBTQA advo­cate Bil­ly Porter rock­ing the brand’s sus­tain­able 64.5 carat Super­no­va Neck­lace at this year’s Oscars. Lau­ra remarked “it was set with over 500 stun­ning cul­tured dia­monds, more than enough to de-craft into a 29-piece col­lec­tion of bracelets, ear­rings and necklaces.The Super­no­va col­lec­tion, cur­rent­ly fea­tured on the brand’s web­site, lit­er­al­ly offers cus­tomers their own piece of Oscars his­to­ry. 

Bil­ly Porter rock­ing the brand’s sus­tain­able 64.5 carat Super­no­va Neck­lace at this year’s Oscars.

Beloved of A‑List actress­es Regi­na King, Dame Helen Mir­ren and Olivia Cole­man, the full list of celebs who have been seen wear­ing the brand is vast and diverse. We asked Lau­ra to share her views on her broad clien­tele. She respond­ed “We want to be the kind of brand who’s not only pro­gres­sive regard­ing doing right by the plan­et, but also one who equal­ly gets behind pro­gres­sive social atti­tudes”. Lau­ra says her cus­tomer is “every gen­der and every age” and “they’re pro­gres­sive peo­ple who want to buy ever­last­ing jew­ellery with amaz­ing design that’s made the best way pos­si­ble for Earth”. 

When we asked her about the AW20 trend for pearls, she rec­om­mend­ed these stun­ning pieces from the Ali­cia col­lec­tion, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with “Vikings” actress Ali­cia Agne­son:

The Ali­cia Emer­ald, Dia­mond and Pearl Open Ring (£1,650.00)
Emer­ald and Dia­mond Drop Ear­rings in 18K white gold (£2,450.00).

We asked Lau­ra to curate a selec­tion of pieces from her col­lec­tions that would speak to our read­ers. She rec­om­mend­ed the fol­low­ing:

Mid­night Gar­den Fra­grance (one of three cru­el­ty-free fra­grances) — £85.00
Veto Sap­phire Mini Hoop Ear­ring 8mm (sin­gle) in 14K Yel­low Gold — £260.00
Ali­cia Vio­let Sap­phire and Dia­mond Chain Ear­rings in 14K Gold — £525.00
Blue Dune Drop Ear­rings in Sol­id 14K Yel­low Gold — £735.00
Dark Halo Sap­phire Pen­dant in Sol­id 14K Rose Gold — £750.00
Noc­tur­nal Mul­ti Coloured Wrap Ring in 14K Yel­low Gold — £825.00
Ali­cia Dia­mond Triple Wrap Ring in 14K Gold — £845.00
Veto Mul­ti-Coloured Elon­gat­ed Ear­rings in 14K Gold — £2,245.00
Mod­ernist 3ct Dia­mond Ten­nis Bracelet in 14K Gold — £4,995.00

Lau­ra also gave us an update on the cur­rent trends for engage­ment rings. For the tra­di­tion­al­ists, she sug­gest­ed “for those look­ing for the clas­sic white dia­mond choice, some­thing like a clas­sic soli­taire”. When we asked her about emerg­ing trends for the con­tem­po­rary wed­ding belle (or beau), she offered “We are see­ing cus­tomers now choose fan­cy coloured instead of tra­di­tion­al white dia­monds. A new trend we’ve seen emerg­ing are asym­met­ric clus­ter rings”. For the bride and groomzil­las out there with a spe­cif­ic vision, Lark & Berry offer a bespoke design ser­vice. Lau­ra says “We offer vir­tu­al appoint­ments now to help peo­ple with con­sul­ta­tions due to the ever-shift­ing safe­ty con­cerns of Coro­n­avirus. Those appoint­ments can be booked on our site.”

With such a mete­oric rise to promi­nence in just two years, what are Laura’s hopes for the future? She tells us “I want to see our brand grow as big we can make it. The big­ger any envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble fash­ion and/or lux­u­ry brand gets, the more net pos­i­tive it is for the plan­et”. Safe in the knowl­edge that every Lark & Berry cul­tured fine jew­ellery pur­chase ben­e­fits Moth­er Earth, what bet­ter incen­tive to splurge to your heart’s con­tent this hol­i­day sea­son? Gift­ing (and bet­ter yet self-gift­ing) nev­er felt so good.