The jewellery industry is full of disruptors right now. And one of the women shaking things up, by swapping mined diamonds for those grown in a lab, is Laura Chavez, founder of Lark & Berry, a new store in Marylebone.
Jewellery brand Lark & Berry was founded by Chavez in 2017, driven by her passion to do something a little bit different with jewels. Like many jewellers, her journey started when shopping for her own collection and failing to find jewels that were to her taste and within her price range.
Then she discovered lab-grown diamonds. Drawn to both the ethical story and the price advantages – lab-grown diamonds require no mining, are fully traceable and usually cost about 30% less than mined diamonds – she set out starting her up own brand.
Creative help to make her dream a reality has come in the form of Katie Rowland, an award-winning British jewellery designer. Rowland is now responsible for creating all of Lark & Berry’s designs, which range from everyday (lab-grown) diamonds to lavish looks fit for the glitziest of galas. Its lab-grown, or cultured as Chavez prefers to call them, diamonds and gemstones – none of the gems used by Lark & Berry have ever been underground – are set into gold and platinum to create luxury jewels. Rowland also oversees the creation of a special range of lab-grown diamond ear studs and mini hoops, which you can have pierced directly into your ear at its Marylebone store, where it has a piercing studio.
The Jewellery Cut caught up with Laura Chavez to find out more about Lark & Berry, her passion for lab-grown stones and her thoughts on the piercing craze.
How would you describe Lark & Berry’s design DNA?
LC: From the earliest stage of conception, we wanted our brand to be design focused. Showing everyone that cultured diamonds are identical to mined diamonds and that they, too, can be used in all sorts of jewellery, has been very important. This a crucial way we stand out.
Is working with lab-grown diamonds about trying to create high-value looks at lower prices?
LC: First and foremost, cultured diamonds are about giving people a choice to invest in sustainable luxury accessories. Cultured diamonds are far easier on the environment – and yes, easier on the pocketbook. Cultured is a new market and Lark & Berry wanted to enter it in the fairest way by pricing our luxury items as competitively as possible. We want everyone to be able to wear diamonds, be luxurious and be proud they are supporting something that helps Earth.
What sort of jewellery trends are you tapping into?
LC: More than following trends, we really want everyone who likes jewellery to see there is an option for them with Lark & Berry. We only use the best [lab-grown] diamonds, no matter the design of the piece or the occasional called for – and with our fine pieces, you will always be fashionable. Lark & Berry is where fashion and sustainability go hand in hand.
Do you offer a bridal range?
LC: Our Aerides and Flora collections have been popular bridal choices. Aerides features a classic 18ct white gold look, featuring our fine cultured diamonds. And Flora is for those who want some exquisite colour in their [lab-grown] sapphire stones. We are currently developing many more bridal styles, including more engagement rings that we designed based on customer feedback. We’re always listening.
What are the most popular lab-grown diamond cuts and sizes that you sell?
LC: At the moment, we sell mainly rounds, from meleé sizes to bespoke pieces with [lab-grown] emerald or round 5ct to 7ct [lab-grown] diamonds. We also have [lab-grown] sapphires in many other cuts that can go up to more than 20cts.
You have opened a piercing studio. Tell us about this.
LC: We thought, why not offer the cultured diamond alternative in the realm of luxury piercings? All our studs are made with gold and [lab-grown] diamonds and are priced very competitively – for the same, and sometimes better, quality than our mined-diamond competitors. It’s no mystery to us why people are loving it.
Has it been popular with shoppers?
LC: Judging by the backed-up bookings and rave reviews, we feel the potential in this arena is such that we are very interested in launching new stores with our in-store piercing studios in place. It’s been a fun way to introduce people to cultured diamonds, and by the way, our patrons are loving the art in our London store. Our piercing studios are not only the first cultured option of their kind, but double as an exhibition space for cosmopolitan artists on the rise. It’s a perfect marriage of art and luxury.
What reasons do your customers give for buying lab-grown diamonds rather than mined diamonds?
LC: We are always hearing from people of how proud they are of their cultured diamonds. They love that they’re getting a better diamond at a fairer price point and doing their part to help save the Earth. This is just the beginning – Lark & Berry is completely changing the world of diamonds.
Come and get hands on with Lark & Berry’s lab-grown diamonds at The Jewellery Cut Live on February 18th & 19th, 2019, at The Hoxton Holborn in London. Get your free ticket here.
Cultured diamonds are about giving people a choice to invest in sustainable luxury accessories