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Case Studies

In The Spotlight: VRAI

“For every carat of our VRAI diamonds produced, we save 140 pounds of carbon dioxide, 200 ounces of air pollution, and 250 tonnes of earth,” Mona Akhavi, CEO of VRAI tells me over Zoom.

VRAI – which means truth in French – is the L.A fine-jewellery brand specialising in lab-grown diamonds. It endeavours to bring transparency to the diamond industry, appealing to a new generation of jewellery investors who, more than ever, want to know the provenance of their piece. Whilst lab-grown diamonds remain controversial in the jewellery world, with many questioning their investment value, these stones undoubtedly offer a conflict-free choice, and in VRAI’s case, a truly sustainable alternative, as the diamonds are produced by their parent company Diamond Foundry using 100% renewable energy.

VRAI offers a modern twist on tradition. The website inspires a childlike delight, as customers are encouraged to play a hand in the creation process, whether buying an engagement ring, or piece from the jewellery line. VRAI has very much tapped into the zeitgeist: appreciating as modern women, we no longer keep our diamonds for special occasions, but wear them every day as an expression of our personal style. Mona herself, couldn’t be a better ambassador, “Six years ago I was never a diamond person, now I even wear my tennis bracelet hiking,” she laughs.


What is special about the diamond foundry diamond growing process? How does it differ from other lab-grown companies.

We’ve developed our technology from the ground up, we only use hydropower to grow our diamonds. Not all lab-grown diamonds are created the same; we are the first certified zero emissions diamond foundry in the world. We are also proud that we do all the polishing and cutting in-house – whilst this is a lengthy process – it adds a certain uniqueness to our diamonds. We offer 14 different shapes, which enables an unparalleled opportunity for customisation.

You could say that by cutting out 30% of the middleman you are making fine jewellery more affordable. Do you think in the long-term other luxury brands will substitute mined for lab-grown diamonds? 

It has started to happen with luxury brands, and we are doing collaborations with luxury houses and jewellery designers, having worked with the likes of Givenchy and Delfina Delletrez. A report from Allied Market Research shows that the global lab-grown diamond market was valued at $19 billion in 2020, but is projected to grow to $50 billion in 2030. A lot of what we do with our collections is showing the possibilities lab-grown diamonds present, and demonstrating how luxurious and high fashion they can be.

 

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How would you describe the VRAI aesthetic?

From our engagement rings to wider jewellery collection we create jewellery which has a timeless aesthetic, but with a modern twist. These are pieces which you can wear every day and feel comfortable, but also dress up for any occasion. We always endeavour to create refined details; from the setting to an elevated clasp, for that ultra-luxurious feel.

What are your most popular pieces?

In terms of our engagement rings, our signature sling ring is one of the most popular designs. It’s a modern take on the classic solitaire ring. Our Three Stone rings are always popular too. Both of these designs allow for a lot of customisation, and you can select from a variety of diamond shapes. In terms of our fine jewellery, our Solitaire jewellery collection has always been popular, particularly since we introduced new shapes last year.

 

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Is there a lot of education you have to do for your clients? 

A lot of our customers are already knowledgeable about lab-grown diamonds. They are coming to us because they want a sustainable alternative to mined diamonds. At the same time, there is still quite a bit of education that is needed. When a customer comes and sees the product in-store – and sees they have the same brilliance and scintillation – a lot of the questions they wanted to ask are answered!

What are some misconceptions about lab-grown diamonds you would like to de-bunk?

The dialogue around ‘real’ versus man-made diamonds: anatomically they are the exactly same, they are graded the same, and lab-grown diamonds are also priced relative to mined.

 

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What jewellery trends are you identifying for both the bridal and contemporary categories?

Consumers are looking for designs to express their individuality, and want to be very hands-on in the creative process. Stacking continues to be a big trend, with both rings and necklaces, whether it’s playing with different shapes, lengths, or mixing-and-matching metal colours. We have noticed customers are more inclined to pick bigger stones with lab-grown diamonds. They seem to be more comfortable with the style of a larger piece, knowing the origin of the stone and the sustainable credentials.

What are your main markets and demographics?

Millennials and Gen Z are the demographic making more conscious decisions in terms of sustainable engagement rings. On the whole, we have a wide spectrum of customers, and attract traditional shoppers who would go to legacy brands, due to the variety of diamond shapes and sizes we have on offer. 

What’s next for VRAI?

We’re looking to grow our presence further in the States, UK, and Europe.

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