By Beatrice Tridimas
‘Implementing lab grown diamonds in the diamond industry kind of woke up the old fashioned and opaque traditional natural diamond industry and made them implement more sustainable practices,’ Aya Ahmad tells us.
Over the phone, a cool internationalism exudes her. Growing up in a family of diamantaires in the diamond capital, Antwerp, the CEO and founder of Fyne Jewellery is firmly rooted in the global diamond industry. An industry, she has always found ‘closed off,’ constrained by its traditionalism.
About Fyne Jewellery
At the forefront of the new generation of jewellers, is Aya herself, setting up an e-shop in Dubai to market her ethically made, affordable luxury goods. Her brand, Fyne Jewellery, is changing the face of luxury, offering guaranteed conflict free diamond and 18 karat gold rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets at affordable prices.
Why cultured diamonds?
The lab-grown gems take around 3-6 weeks to grow, and have the same physical, chemical and aesthetic structure of mined diamonds. They’re graded on cut, colour and clarity and each has their own unique make-up, like mined diamonds.
She’s met with little apprehension, but for engagement ring buyers, who are hesitant to stray too far from tradition. ‘I do feel like people are a bit wary because it’s such a huge purchase, and such an emotional purchase in their lives that they’re not ready to change their mentality,’ she says.
Changing the game.
A new generation of more conscious consumers, seeking integrity in the items they buy have enabled the success of cultured diamonds. The diamond industry ‘is a bit late to the game’ in terms of sustainability, Aya discloses, but over the past year and, especially since January, she’s seen a rapid change in people’s attitudes towards ethical manufacturing. The industry still isn’t where it needs to be, but the increasing popularity of cultured diamonds has started a conversation within the industry that is long overdue.
‘I think a lot of companies that are talking about fashion and clothes need to include jewellery more,’
Aya tells us. There’s little recognition of the full extent of the issues in the industry; general understanding caps at the role of diamond mining in civil conflicts across Africa.
‘A lot of people aren’t even aware that metals can be a conflict issue, you know.’
The truth behind diamonds and metals
Gold mining is also responsible for contaminating water and polluting the air with mercury, poisoning those who work with it and live in the surrounding communities. Using mercury is the easiest and cheapest way to mine gold, and communities who rely on mining for their income will most likely disregard the health risks for economic profit.
The diamond and metal industries have long and complex supply chains, the raw materials passing through several hands before they get to the point of exportation.
It’s thought that around 140,000 carats of diamonds have been smuggled out of the Central African Republic since it was suspended from the global diamond trade in 2013. It’s impossible to estimate just how many conflict diamonds are circulating the markets, but some put it as high as 15%.
Greater effort to track where exactly our resources are coming from, the onus lying on manufacturers and companies to implement traceability measures.
‘When you’re producing in small quantities, you’ve got more control over your supply chain, as well, you know where things are coming from, you know exactly where the money is going,’
Aya says. But for her, cultured diamonds already provide the solution to reliable sourcing.
Bringing sustainability and ethics to the forefront of the industry, Aya feels that cultured diamonds have had ‘a positive impact on the natural diamond industry.’ Now that consumers have started buying differently, bigger companies are beginning to reevaluate their place in the market.
‘It’s really the consumer that’s starting to dictate the story and change the way things are being done,’ she adds.
A study carried out in 2014 revealed that growing diamonds uses less than half the energy of mining and produces 1.5 billion% less emissions. Is that figure even comprehensible?
‘To start off with, you don’t have to destroy tonnes of earth and leave huge open pits in the ground,’ Aya laughs. The effect on local ecosystems in growing diamonds is next to zero compared to the wide-scale destruction of mining. The cleanliness of the process depends on the supplier, Aya reminds me, but her’s, she reassures, works only with recycled and renewable energy sources.
Diamond mining is such a complex industry, deeply-set in tradition and politics, that it can’t simply be replaced by cultured diamonds. Boycotting mined diamonds won’t do anything to change the industry for the better. Instead, it’s the Western world’s responsibility, Aya tells us, where most of these diamonds end up, to provide humanitarian aid ‘on the ground.’
Aya ensures that the rest of her ecologically sustainable, making to order, using recycled paper for packaging and working on a solution for recyclable boxes.
She has secured a concept that is appealing in its care, consciousness and affordability, not to mention her sophisticated designs and timeless elegance. A piece of Fyne Jewellery is for the modern consumer a symbol of progress so much as it is a delightfully made accessory.
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