Mejuri CEO dishes on Canadian jewelry brand's lab-grown-diamond launch.
While the first lab-grown diamonds date back to the 1950s, the created gemstones didn’t quite catch on with fine jewelry shoppers in the same way as their mined counterparts. Until now.
Thanks to improvements in creation process and final product, lab-grown diamonds, which feature the same “optical, physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds,” according to the International Gem Society, are proving popular with customers who favour the allure of affordability and sustainability.
According to statistics from New York-based independent diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky, global sales for lab-grown diamonds increased 38 per cent in 2022, topping US$12 billion. That number is only expected to grow as brands continue to build buzz within the category. CNN Style even pointed to 2023 as the ‘year of the lab-grown diamond.’
It’s this increasing popularity, coupled with an eagerness to offer its customers designs that fit their demands, that prompted Canadian jewelry brand Mejuri to enter the category this month.
“Many customers have reached out asking for lab-grown diamonds,” Noura Sakkijha, co-founder and CEO of the Toronto-headquartered company, explains. “We’ve seen a continuous shift in consumer demand and sentiment towards lab-grown diamonds, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.”
An area of expansion consideration for quite some time, and one that follows Mejuri’s launch of lab-grown sapphires last month, Sakkijha says the ability to offer created diamonds hinged on finding the right “responsible” source for the stones.
“We wanted to take the time to ensure we were launching lab-grown diamonds with the right partners by going through a rigorous supplier vetting process to select a partner that is 100 per cent Scientific Certification Systems Global Services certified, is carbon neutral, and uses responsible and ethical production processes,” Sakkijha says of the company’s private supplier.
With both Responsible Jewelry Council and SCS Global Services certification, various criteria were met such as working toward zero impact goals for “production-relation environment and human health,” using 100 per cent solar power to create the diamonds, traceability, and climate offsets.
When asked about lingering misconceptions surrounding lab-grown diamonds, Sakkijha pointed to sustainability as a key aspect of consideration.
“I think many people believe that lab-grown diamonds are always more sustainable. They can be, but not always,” Sakkijha says. “Lab-grown diamonds can be better for the environment if they are made using renewable energy and have a lower carbon footprint. Often, many lab-grown diamonds on the market are grown in locations that don’t use renewable energy, leading to a high carbon footprint.
“By using SCS Global Services-certified diamonds, we can ensure our diamonds are carbon neutral, committing to our goal of being climate positive by 2030.”
Another area of discussion surrounding lab-grown versus mined diamonds lies in long-term value. According to the International Gem Society, “one downside to lab-grown diamonds is that they have little to no resale value” due to the ability of lab-grown diamonds to be manufactured at any time, in various quantities.
Undoubtedly, it’s often the initial savings that guides many lab-grown diamond purchasers toward the choice.
Founded in 2015, Mejuri is a direct-to-consumer brand built on making fine jewelry an “everyday luxury.” It makes sense, then, that the foray into lab-grown diamonds also carries a careful consideration of affordability for the company’s customer.
“Since our mission is to redefine luxury, our expansion into lab-grown diamonds is a way to make high-quality diamonds — especially the larger-sized stones — more accessible to our customers, without compromising our sustainability efforts,” Sakkijha says. “We’re able to offer more scalability, meaning even more options for our community.”
Priced from $648 to $10,500, the lab-grown diamond collection includes stud earrings, a tennis bracelet and a tennis necklace. The designs, which are currently available exclusively to Mejuri+ members and will be widely available in March, are offered in two carat weights for each style, and in either 14-karat white or yellow gold.
With more lab-grown diamond styles slated to launch in early 2024, Sakkijha says the category will continue to be an area of exploration in order to keep pace with customer interest.
“We have already seen so much success with our lab-grown sapphire launch in November, and we’re excited for the possibilities of lab-grown diamonds,” she says.
The introduction of lab-grown diamonds at Mejuri doesn’t signal a move away from mined diamonds for the brand. The company’s natural diamonds are sourced from suppliers that follow “conflict-free and socially responsible practices,” according to the company.
“There is room for both to exist in the jewelry industry. And, for us, the common denominator is making the right choices on responsible sourcing for both,” Sakkijha says. “For context, mined diamonds can positively impact communities that rely on the diamond industry for income and community development and lab-grown diamonds are easier to trace across the supply chain. SCS Certified lab stones can also be climate neutral.
“So, each material has its own pluses and opportunities.”