Eco-savvy shoppers, retailers and luxury giants like LVMH are all investing in certified carbon-neutral and climate-neutral lab-grown diamonds and diamond jewelry
Diamonds have long been a girl’s best friend.
Now, carbon-neutral and climate-neutral lab-grown diamonds are one of the world’s brightest jewelry trends.
LVMH, which owns Bulgari, Tiffany & Co., Zenith, Chaumet, Hublot, Christian Dior and more, rocked the jewelry world in June, 2022 by announcing its $90 million investment in LUSIX, a Rehovat, Israel-based company that uses solar energy to power the reactors that create its sustainability-rated lab-grown rough diamonds.
As the world’s first company to grow commercial gem-quality diamonds exclusively with solar power, LUSIX derives all its electricity from a dedicated solar farm situated in the south of Israel. Another compelling reason why LVMH is investing in LUSIX: the company is an Accredited Producer of Certified Sustainability-Rated Diamonds by SCS Global Services, which is a third-party sustainability verification authority based in Emeryville, CA. This sustainability diamond rating certification, known as SCS-007, was created by SCS Global Services in concert with environmental scientists and jewelry industry stakeholders from around the world and is administered by SCS auditors.
The SCS-007 certification standard applies to natural or lab-grown diamonds that are sustainably and ethically produced, and certified climate neutral. SCS-007 certification also verifies that a given diamond was cut, polished and/or set into jewelry by employees who worked in safe and humane facilities plus received fair wages for their labor.
Because LVMH’s 2021 valuation of $329 billion made it the most valuable company in Europe last year, any new jewelry direction it takes naturally sets a leading example for luxury designers, manufacturers, jewelry shoppers and aspirational dreamers.
SCS-007 certification is advantageous for lab-grown diamond producers, and so appealing to environmentally responsible corporations like LVMH because lab-grown diamonds require such gargantuan amounts of electricity to produce. What’s more, sustainability-rated diamonds immediately engage eco-savvy millennials and other high information consumers who base their spending decisions on a product’s relative environmental impact as opposed to its price.
While China had a 56 percent share of global lab-grown diamond production in 2019, India produced a 15 percent share of lab-grown diamonds that year. In these two countries, electricity is generated mainly by burning coal, which is the single biggest contributor to human-caused climate change. Therefore, contrary to many greenwashing marketers, the overwhelming majority of lab-grown diamonds are environmentally unsustainable products.
Just as farmers must adhere to the USDA certified organic standard in order to receive USDA certification that confirms their organic claims, lab-grown diamond producers must adhere to five pillars of sustainability that form the structure of SCS-007 in order to receive a sustainability rating for climate neutrality.
Will LVMH’s historic $90 million investment in lab-grown diamonds by LUSIX compel some, or all of its luxury jewelry and watch brands to produce jewelry and watches exclusively with certified carbon-neutral or climate neutral diamonds? That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, LVMH Chairman and Chief Executive Office Bernard Arnault has officially committed to sustainability. As Arnault notes in LVMH’s 2021 Social and Environmental Responsibility Report, “Firmly convinced that truly desirable products can only come from sustainable businesses, we are committed to ensuring that our products and the way they are made have a positive impact on our entire ecosystem and the places we operate, and that our Group is actively working to build a better future.”
In other words, LVMH is working towards net zero emissions in order to protect the planet for future generations. Given that 2021’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that Earth will exceed 1.5C of global warming sooner than many scientists had expected, the existence of SCS-007 presents an environmentally timely and historic development in the narrative of diamond jewelry history.
As Stanley Mathuram, Executive Vice-President of SCS Global Services explains, “Our standard utilizes unique scientific provenance verification techniques and chemical profiling to document a natural or lab-grown diamond’s point of origin. Our certificate of sustainability which comes with every certified diamond,” he continues, “also charts the diamond’s various environmental and social impacts as it is handled by dealers, cutters, polishers, designers, manufacturers, and retailers before being purchased by the jewelry buyer.”
Some influential retailers that utilize SCS-007 certified sustainability-rated diamonds in their designs include the recently re-launched heritage Parisian luxury jeweler Oscar Massin, which is owned by the Paris-based investment firm Luximpact.
A 19th century house renowned for its artistically excellent diamond jewelry designs and artisanal savoir-faire, Oscar Massin invented the illusion setting. According to Frédéric de Narp, who spent most of his career at Cartier and Harry Winston before co-founding Luximpact with Coralie de Fontenoy and Sandrine de Laage, Oscar Massin’s choice to use only third-party certified, climate-neutral, lab-grown diamonds is central to its mission and to the sustainably-minded mission of Luximpact.
To paraphrase de Narp, their shared mission is to create 21st century luxury jewels that people love and covet because they are as beautiful as they are environmentally sustainable. It’s also worth noting here that in November, 2022, Luximpact is reviving the 19th century Parisian jeweler Rouvenat, having purchased the archives of Léon Rouvenat, whose jewels were worn by Empress Eugénie and other avatars of Second Empire style. The antique Rouvenat designs will be handmade with 100 percent certified recycled gold and sterling, plus 100 percent certified vintage gemstones.
As de Narp explains, “Our Latitude lab-grown diamonds are made by WD Lab Grown diamonds, which is based in Maryland. Globally certified as sustainably made under the SCS-007 certification, Latitude diamonds received an A+ rating, which is the highest one granted by SCS. Along with being 100% climate neutral,” de Narp notes, “Latitude diamonds are traceable with 99% accuracy throughout the entire US chain of custody.” What’s more, he continues, “these embody the highest quality type IIA purity level, which is present in only one to two per cent of all the world’s diamonds. While Oscar Massin designs contain the most brilliant gems that are also environmentally neutral,” de Narp asserts, the A+ rating of Latitude diamonds also signifies that they were produced by people who worked under conditions that were deemed by SCS auditors as being safe, humane and well-paid.”
Other retailers that utilize SCS-007 certified diamonds in their designs include the online and brick and mortar jewelry company Brilliant Earth, Philadelphia-based Bario Neal and Fair Trade Jewellery Co., which is headquartered in Canada. SCS-007 allows retailers, designers, and manufacturers to sell and represent the consumer-facing claim for packaging and advertising of all SCS-007 certified sustainability rated lab-grown diamonds.
“As a scientific and ethical breakthrough for the diamond and jewelry industries, SCS-007 serves to reassure environmentally conscious jewelry shoppers that the diamond they are buying really is what the retailer says it is, because it was evaluated by an impartial, scientific third-party,” says Benny Landa, founder of LUSIX.
There’s another compelling reason why SCS-007 is a jewelry industry game changer. Since time immemorial, “The majority of diamonds in the supply chain have lacked documentation of their origins,” says New York-based jewelry designer Ana-Katarina Vinkler-Petrovic, who uses only repurposed vintage diamonds or certified Canadian, naturally mined diamonds in her Ana Katarina range. “While lack of documentation has enabled bad actors to sell conflict diamonds that finance civil wars in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, it also continues to allow diamonds that were mined by people who suffered human rights abuses and/or labor violations to enter the supply chain.”
Although the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the supply chain, its flaws are many. While it fails to provide proof of a diamond’s origin or document the environmental impact of particular diamond mines, the KPCS has also never provided evidence of miners’ working conditions or labor practices in cutting facilities.
Improving upon this situation, SCS-007 offers independently verified proof of a diamond’s origin and journey through the chain of custody using the standard’s evidence-based information. By certifying traceable and environmentally neutral diamonds, SCS-007 certification enhances diamond sourcing with hitherto unparalleled transparency. The existence of the standard makes it arguably harder for people to sell conflict diamonds or stones that have been transformed into precious gems by workers who suffered human rights abuses while on the job.
As industry awareness of SCS-007 grows and jewelry manufacturers, retailers and designers start working with more sustainability rated diamonds, those in the fashion and jewelry media plus the public all stand to gain a better understanding of what is a verifiable sustainable diamond, as opposed to one of unknown origins. “Besides being beautiful and a symbol of love, every SCS-007 certified diamond is an earth-friendly stone with an intrinsic value that will endure across generations,” Mathuram says. “As more people learn about SCS-007, the harder it will be for people to market green-washed, high-impact, environmentally damaging diamonds as sustainable,” he predicts.
While sustainability-rated diamonds are relatively new on the global jewelry scene, they are already changing how jewelry houses source diamonds and how the public shops for diamond jewelry. Given the actions of LVMH, Oscar Massin, Brilliant Earth plus other jewelers and designers who are sourcing SCS-007 certified diamonds, the new sustainability standard for diamonds is already making the jewelry industry a little greener, cleaner, and more humane.