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