Founded by Scott Thompson in 2003, CARAT* London was born out of a desire to bring the world costume pieces with the manufacturing standards of fine jewellery. Today, Thompson launches CARAT* London’s latest project: a range of sustainable, lab-grown gems known as GENTLE DIAMONDS.
Here, Thompson explains how cutting-edge technology is transforming the industry as we know it, and why an eco-conscious approach shines brighter.
As the founder of CARAT* London,
you have been in the jewellery business for a long time.
What have been the biggest shifts in diamond trends over the years?
“On the design front, diamonds in the last 20 years have moved into the faster and more expressive fashion jewellery space and further away from the idea that they belong only in traditional engagement rings. This will become even more pronounced as our relatively cleaner and more affordable diamonds bring many new designers into the space. We have been promoting this with our CARAT* COLLECTIVE program, bringing in new artists to work exclusively with GENTLE DIAMONDS. This includes recent collaborations with Margaux Durieux and Pauline Revet.”
For many, the concept of a lab-grown diamond is new.
Can you explain a little more about the innovation behind it, and the benefits?
“The innovation in recent years has been the ability to reliably grow high quality diamonds while reducing the environmental impact. The actual processes produce very little direct environmental damage. In fact, one of the technologies employed only emits a little oxygen and a little water in the process.”
What are the biggest similarities and differences between mined
and lab-grown diamonds?
“They are actually identical in their atomic molecular composition and only specialised equipment can normally tell them apart. One of the only significant differences is that our GENTLE DIAMONDS are a very pure and rare Type IIa diamonds. Less than two per cent of mined diamonds receive this classification of purity. What better way to express the purity of your love than with a diamond that is as pure?”
Do you think that lab-grown diamonds will change the mined diamond industry for the better? How so?
“Brands like GENTLE DIAMONDS are forcing the mined diamond industry to consider their social and environmental footprints. This is very positive for everyone, from the diamond polishers to the environmentalists who are holding us all accountable for what we do in our supply chains.”
How does colour grading and valuation work for GENTLE DIAMONDS? Is this different to mined diamonds?
“They are graded exactly the same way as mined diamonds and all our diamonds above 0.3 carats are graded by leading independent grading labs such as GIA and IGI. These labs generally use what is known as the ‘4Cs’: colour, cut, clarity and carat. We like to think we have added one extra C: conscience.”
Who are the customers that have shown the most interest in GENTLE DIAMONDS?
“Frankly, any girl who loves sparkle and votes with her wallet for what she believes in. For example, in London where we have a number of GENTLE DIAMONDS locations, we have seen everyone from brides to fashion jewellery lovers. It is people who appreciate our stance on value and values.”
What do diamonds usually symbolise to people who buy them, and how has this changed in our cultural landscape?
“It is no secret that, in the last 100 years or so, diamonds have come to symbolise love and value. More recently, with the advent of grown diamonds, we believe they will increasingly become a way to symbolise love and values. This is particularly clear in the area of ‘conflict diamonds’, and it is estimated that more than three million Africans have lost their lives in wars funded by them. More diamond consumers than ever before are demanding brands who can show conflict-free traceability. All of our diamonds are certified 100 per cent conflict-free.”
You have been a pioneer in championing lab-grown diamonds. Where do you see the industry in ten years?
“When I started working with diamonds 17 years ago, the technology was nascent and the industry largely scoffed and ignored us. I can now see an explosion in creativity unleashed by the relative affordability for designers to work with our diamonds as well as a cleaner, more transparent industry that could, quite possibly, put more back into nature than it takes out.”
Shop Lane Crawford’s edit of CARAT*’ London’s GENTLE DIAMONDS below.