Redefining Jewellery-Making with Sustainable Diamonds at Etika Jewels
Diamonds are beautiful, timeless, and regal which is why these are considered the most coveted jewel on the planet. Diamond is one of the most sought-after precious stones used in making jewellery because it has a sparkling surface due to its high refractive index.
Most importantly, diamonds can be cut and polished, which makes this rare item very appealing. However, there is a dark side to the sourcing of diamonds.
Diamond mining is dangerous, unsafe, and on several occasions, an underpaid job. This is mostly due to unplanned and unregulated mining, in different parts of the world, especially in Central and West Africa.
Basma Chaieri, Founder, Etika Jewels, has redefined jewellery making with lab-grown diamonds. Etika Jewels is an online jewellery store that offers everyday modern jewellery designs made from gold and ethical diamonds and gemstones.
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds created in a different environment: inside of a lab. They are also entirely free from conflict, child labour or unsafe working conditions, as they are ethically produced using specialised technology in a controlled laboratory.
To know more about the sustainable diamonds, which Etika Jewels is into, Sustainability Middle East (SME) News interviewed Basma Chaieri (BC) recently.
"I decided to step out of my comfort and realize my big dream: create a business with an impact, a business that will make a difference. So, I went back to being a student again and learned about carbon chemistry, diamonds, and gemmology," she said.
Edited excerpts from the interview...
SME: Tell us something about yourself.
BC: I come from a beautiful city in Morocco where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean: Tangier, a destination and meeting point for many different cultures through the centuries.
From a very young age, I was exposed to many ideas and influences from all over the world and that helped me develop an open-minded business approach that keeps pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
The natural beauty of my place inspired me to love things that are simple and timeless. I also learned to appreciate what is precious and irreplaceable, hence my sustainable approach to jewelry making.
SME: How did the idea of starting a jewellery brand come to your mind?
BC: I always had at the back of my mind a vision of creating a brand with a positive impact that will make some difference to the world as we experience it today. I further narrowed down my concept after watching a documentary about the diamond mining industry back in 2015.
The notion of man-made diamonds sounded like a fascinating alternative, but after a brief research, I realized that lab-created diamonds hadn’t reached fine-jewelry standards at that time yet.
I parked the idea at the time and returned to it after working for a couple of years for the Expo 2020 Dubai, the most sustainable World Expo ever happened.
At this mega event, I had the chance to be exposed to all sorts of inspiring sustainable initiatives, that finally convinced and reassured me that this was the right time and place to build an innovative jewelry brand.
SME: What were the challenges when you started?
BC: The world of fine jewelry-making is in many cases hereditary and exclusive. It is an art and a business that mostly passes from generation to generation. Newcomers offering a less traditional approach – let alone women – can’t easily enter this male-dominated industry.
That said, there is always a way to succeed and put your innovative message across. It’s a matter of forging the right partnerships and teaming up with people who maintain shared values and dreams.
SME: What is Etika Jewels all about?
BC: We are a fine jewelry brand that enables you, through innovation, to afford diamonds as an everyday luxury accessory that instantly elevates your looks. Etika Jewels is about value-for-money diamond jewelry that allows you to look elegant and fabulous without breaking the bank.
It is a top-quality, ethical, and sustainable alternative to traditional jewelry that allows you to build your own fine jewelry collection at a reasonable cost. We focus on creating extraordinary gems that make you feel good, respecting the environment, and boosting your confidence.
SME: Tell us more about developing Diamonds in a Lab.
BC: As the name implies, a lab diamond is developed in a laboratory, not mined from the earth, meaning it has a different place of birth. Still, in the lab, we replicate all those factors and conditions contributing to the growth of a natural diamond through one of these constantly optimized high-tech methods:
The HPHT method. It stands for High-Pressure High-Temperature and is known as the first one ever used to create an artificial diamond.
A diamond seed is placed in a chamber of extreme heat and pressure, undergoing a process similar to that in the earth’s depths. The combination of these two forces leads to the growth of a crystal structure that becomes a diamond.
CVD Method: Diamond seeds are placed in a vacuum chamber filled with methane gases. This method uses microwaves of heat and pressure to break down the gas molecules.
The carbon atoms from the gas remain and fall onto the diamond seed crystal, turning it into a growing diamond.
Both technologically advanced methods result in the formation of diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to mined ones. Once created, they go through the same cutting, polishing, and grading processes as their mined counterparts.
SME: How does the conventional jewellery market stand as a competitor?
BC: We operate in a rapidly growing market, and probably in one of the best places in the world to develop innovative ideas. I would say that things have changed drastically over the last 18 to 24 months.
It went from a resistant-to-new-ideas competitive landscape – where a lab-grown diamond was unknown or qualified as imitation or simulant – to a much more receptive and collaborative approach.
This shift is explained through a growing demand and acceptance by customers embracing lab diamonds as an ethical option. It became a trend our traditional competitors had to recognize.
The whole fine jewelry market is gradually adjusting to this new reality. They know that demand for lab diamonds is here to stay and grow.
SME: How has the response from customers been so far?
BC: As always, it’s the customers who determine demand and often create lasting trends, setting new standards for each industry. Today, customers are increasingly conscious, making informed decisions that improve their quality of living and well-being.
They do their own research before buying anything and question the messages the established industries send through massive marketing. Customers today challenge the status quo, opting for more sustainable and ethical choices because it is in everyone’s hands to make a difference today.
At Etika Jewels, we see 3 types of customers: those explicitly interested in ethical lab-grown diamonds, those looking for good value for their money, and those attracted to our elegant and timeless designs and inspired by our mission.
SME. Any plans of going global soon and where do you see Etika Jewels five years from now?
BC: For now, our focus is on our primary market – the Middle East – although our items can be shipped globally. Etika Jewels’ scaling strategy revolves around an effort to get closer to our customers, understand them even more, and respond to their needs and dreams.
Five years from now, we aspire to be the company that has created awareness about lab-grown diamonds among the general public, a company known for making her part in building a more responsible fashion industry, and the one that has brought diamonds closer to you.