Q&A: Bradley's Jewellers owner on why now was the time to launch first in-house lab-grown diamond collection
York's Bradley's Jewellers has launched its first in-house lab grown diamond jewellery, collection, Eco Rocks by Kay Bradley.
Here Kay Bradley, founder and owner of Eco Rocks and Bradley’s Jewellers, tells Professional Jeweller what inspired the new direction for the business, whether there was any concern about stocking the relatively new product type, and how the range has been selling so far.
Can you me about Bradley's Jewellers?
Bradley’s Jewellers York is an independent, family-run jewellery business in York. Our business is based in a 500-year-old, Grade II Listed building that’s overlooked by the spectacular York Minster Cathedral.
The store itself was a former apothecary and has been carefully restored to its Dickensian stature.
We specialise in engagement rings, wedding rings, eternity rings and our own bespoke collections, including Eco Rocks – our new laboratory-grown diamond collection – and Oval Heaven, our new oval-shaped diamond collection.
Bradley’s Jewellers York is a standalone business, but within my family are a portfolio of stores under the Bradley name that can be traced back to the 1970s.
Jewellery retail and bespoke design are part of my family history, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When did Bradley's first branch out into making its own jewellery?
Bradley’s Jewellers has always offered a bespoke jewellery service, as well as our own uniquely designed collections.
I personally design our ranges, such as the Rainbow Collection, the Eco Rocks Collection and the York Daffodil capsule range, drawing inspiration from the city of York, my customers, and macro trends in the sector.
"MANY OF OUR CUSTOMERS APPRECIATE THAT THEY CAN HAVE A BIGGER DIAMOND FOR THEIR BUDGET WITH LABORATORY-GROWN STONES"
Finding a balance between what my customers love [now] and what they will love in one, two or five years’ time is really important to me.
It is one of the reasons why I am throwing so much behind laboratory-grown diamonds and fancy-cut diamonds as I believe this is the direction the jewellery industry is heading in.
Can you tell me about the new Eco Rocks range?
Eco Rocks was established in 2021 and represents our first significant foray into laboratory-grown diamonds as a brand and business.
Initially, I was reluctant to work with laboratory-grown diamonds and I believed they went against the traditional idea of fine jewellery.
However, my customers were beginning to ask about these kinds of stones and were starting to ask questions about the ethics, transparency and traceability of the diamonds we use.
I started to do my own research and found an interesting business opportunity in laboratory-grown diamonds, as well as a viable option that I could present to my customers with budget constraints and/or environmental concerns.
What finally inspired me to take the leap was a conversation I had with my young son.
"I PERSONALLY DESIGN OUR RANGES [...] DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM THE CITY OF YORK, MY CUSTOMERS, AND MACRO TRENDS IN THE SECTOR"
He came home from school having spent the day learning about the environment, climate neutrality and recycling.
We discussed making positive changes at home and I decided that the same could be done in my business.
Was it a difficult decision to make to work with lab-growns, as I know they can be controversial in some quarters?
I have no concerns in being able to offer my customers superior choice and a greater breadth of options for their budget – this is an integral part of being a luxury retailer.
Laboratory-grown diamonds are only controversial because of the ‘greenwashing’ tactics that have been used to unfairly compare them to natural diamonds.
By choosing the right supplier that has been independently accredited for its green claims by a third party, I can confidently provide my customers with ample information so they can make an informed and educated decision.
Can you tell me where you sourced the stones for the collection?
Choosing the right supplier was vital and required some significant research on my part. We purposefully chose to work with Green Rocks – a global expert in ‘created diamonds’.
Every Green Rocks laboratory-grown diamond is a Certified Sustainability Rated Diamond under the SCS 007 Sustainability Rated Diamond Standard.
"I AM THRILLED WITH THE RESPONSE TO THE COLLECTION OVERALL AND WE'VE HAD A SURPRISING INFLUX OF QUESTIONS ABOUT GROWTH METHODS"
This certification is the first of its kind and provides unprecedented diamond origin traceability assurance, delivers climate neutrality, represents a whole new level of transparency around the environmental and social responsibility of gemstone-quality diamond production, and drives sustainability investments to help vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
We can pass our peace of mind and confidence in our laboratory-grown diamonds onto our customers.
In addition, we have recently been named an accredited retailer of Certified Sustainability Rated Diamonds. This accreditation authorises us to fully represent and sell certified diamonds online and in store.
As an accredited SCS 007 Diamond Retailer, we are demonstrating our commitment to bringing full transparency and value to our customers, while revolutionising the diamond industry and building a more sustainable world.
Certified Sustainability Rated Diamonds adhere to the highest standards of social and ethical performance, with unsurpassed traceability back to the source and climate neutrality.
Can you tell us how well the collection has been selling so far?
Eco Rocks pieces have been selling extremely well. I am thrilled with the response to the collection overall and we’ve had a surprising influx of questions about growth methods. It is amazing to see the thirst for knowledge from our client base!
Many of our customers appreciate that they can have a bigger diamond for their budget with laboratory-grown stones, whereas others have done their research and want to discuss the environmental credentials of the gems they are purchasing.
Our role at Bradley’s Jewellers is to facilitate these conversations and provide as much credible information as possible.
Will you be releasing more lab-grown collections in future?
Absolutely. I believe laboratory-grown diamonds hold enormous potential for independent retail jewellers and we will continue to adapt our Eco Rocks range in line with demand.
For example, we are adding oval-shaped laboratory-grown diamond pieces to reflect the growing demand for this fancy-cut.
"LABORATORY-GROWN DIAMONDS HOLD ENORMOUS POTENTIAL FOR INDEPENDENT RETAIL JEWELLERS"
Eco Rocks is a way for us to create added value around our laboratory-grown diamond offering and to present customers with detailed, useful and transparent information about where their stones come from. As the collection grows, we will focus our attention online and in-store.
Any other news to discuss?
Our latest collection launch is Oval Heaven – a new range of natural and laboratory-grown oval-shaped diamond jewellery.
We have noticed a surge in sales of oval-shaped diamonds, and we see this fancy-cut as a real growth area for our business.
We will be creating pieces with both natural diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds to give our customers options across a range of price points.