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Swarovski delves into man-made gems

Swarovski delves into man-made gems
[Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images]

As man-made stones make a bigger dent in the jewelry industry, luxe labels are more readily adopting them.

The New York Times reports that Atelier Swarovski–the brand that collaborates with designers such as Jason Wu and Christopher Kane–is now using diamonds and emeralds created in labs.

These are far different from inexpensive diamond substitutes, such as cubic zirconia or rhinestones. Susan Jacques, the president and chief executive of the Gemological Institute of America, said man-made diamonds, for example, have the same clarity, color, and hardness as ones pulled from the earth.

“To the naked eye, they are identical,” she said.

Atelier Swarovski designer Nadja Swarovski explained that such laboratory gems “have a lower impact on the environment and society,” and are therefore often more appealing to today’s conscious consumer. “People want to know where their products come from. People care.”

Lab diamonds have existed since the ’50s, and have made a small dent in the engagement ring market. However, they are yet to take off in the mainstream diamond market. Diamond Foundry, which produces lab-grown diamonds in San Francisco, is one such company that is hopeful that the industry will further consider joining their efforts.

“Grown diamonds can be even better than real diamonds in terms of the ecological and social costs,” Diamond Foundry’s chief technology officer, Jeremy Scholz, told the Times. “The energy that we use is from 100 percent renewable sources. It’s a sustainable method. I’m not sure mining companies can say the same thing.”RR