The lab-grown diamond label here to transform the jewellery industry

Amy de Klerk
·6-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

From Harper's BAZAAR

Each week, we look into an exciting and innovative label that is taking the fashion world by storm in our regular feature #TheBrand. This time we’re turning the spotlight on Kimaï, a lab-grown diamond specialist aiming to transform and modernise the jewellery industry, and one which has already caught the eye of the Duchess of Sussex.

“We were both born into families who worked in the diamond trade in Antwerp,” explains Jessica Warch of her and co-founder Sidney Neuhaus’ natural journey into one day launching their own jewellery brand. But, it wasn’t until after studying in London when the two became aware of the inner workings of the industry – and what they wanted to change about it. This is how Kimaï was born, in an effort to address two clear issues that the designers were desperate to change – the outdated, sexist marketing that they felt was dominating the world of jewellery, and the lack of transparency available to consumers regarding what they were buying.

“When we moved to London to study, we became more and more conscious about where the products we were buying came from,” Warch says. “When we looked specifically into fine jewellery, we realised two things that we set out to change. The first was that fine jewellery had been heavily marketed towards men; it still felt very antiquated, as if the industry hadn’t evolved for generations and was hardly speaking to women at all.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

The designers found that, although jewellery was being marketed towards men, it was actually more often than not women who were selecting and purchasing the pieces for themselves.

“We want to make the process much more accessible and enjoyable for modern women, so we take a more personalised approach in how we speak to our community and through the pieces that we offer.”

A clear example of this was how the brand chose to launch engagement rings last October, where they attempted to work against the outdated belief that men are always solely behind the purchase.

“The engagement ring market is really ripe for modernisation,” Warch adds. “Traditionally, there are a lot of ‘rules’ around shopping for one, from how much you should spend to where and how to choose a ring and that women aren’t a part of the process. But we had more and more people coming to us, both individually and in couples, to enquire about bespoke engagement-ring designs – and we realised there was an opportunity to speak to a more modern, consciously-minded customer.” Warch describes the engagement ring launch as being “wildly successful” and says they are already working on more designs.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï


The second major issue that became an integral part of the Kimaï goal was to address the problems of transparency.

“The traditional diamond industry has long lacked transparency in its supply chains, so it’s impossible to know where your jewellery is coming from. Mined diamonds have complex and untraceable chains, often changing hands at least 15 times before they reach you, while the process is known to have devastating and dangerous effects on local communities.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

“Through Kimaï, we are working to reimagine the diamond and fine jewellery industry by fostering a more ethical and transparent approach. We decided right away that we wanted to use lab-grown diamonds in all of our collections, and I think that is something that sets us apart from a lot of fine jewellery brands.”

Of course, lab-grown diamonds have grown in popularity in recent years as consumers become more aware of them – and more educated in the process of how they are made. However, Warch believes there is still much work to be done and more than a few myths that need debunking.

“So many people don’t realise that lab-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds. There is also a misconception that I’d love to finally put to rest – and that is that lab-grown diamonds use more energy than mined diamonds. It is simply not true. The energy used to produce mined diamonds isn’t even comparable to the energy used to create a diamond in a lab – and that is without considering the societal impacts of diamond mining in local communities and the long-lasting effects on our planet.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

Aside from only using lab-grown diamonds, Kimaï also adopts a less wasteful model in order to lessen its impact on the environment even further.

“Instead of having thousands of designs, we offer a more curated selection of pieces that speak to what our community is looking for, and we are dropping new pieces each month on a made-to-order model so that we don’t have excess inventory and can reduce waste.”

Kimaï’s approach to respecting the environment has seen the brand find great success in a short period of time, gaining a huge fan base that even includes the Duchess of Sussex (who wore the label just two months after launch). This popularity is something that has gone from strength to strength during the pandemic as customers have become more environmentally and ethically aware.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

“People are becoming more conscious of their personal footprint and how we can use our purchasing power to shop more mindfully. The last year has really accelerated how people think about the environment and the impact that we have, so there has naturally been a greater interest in lab-grown diamonds.

“I think that the pandemic has changed how many of us think about the things we’re buying in general. People are much less interested in the concept of ‘fast fashion’ and are investing in higher quality pieces, that they will keep forever. Upcycling and circular fashion brands have never been more top of mind, and I am optimistic that we will continue to see brands and consumers investing in this space.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

And it is not just consumers becoming more environmentally conscious, but living through the pandemic has also led to people wanting to support small businesses in ways they never have before.

“For many industries, the pandemic has bought a great emphasis on shopping from smaller brands, which has been incredible to see. I think larger, less sustainable companies are having to think more about their role in the industry and how they can design for a more conscious customer.”

In less than three years, the jewellery brand has made huge strides in creating a modern business that is addressing the issues the designers felt so passionately about to begin with – but their end goal is far bigger than that.

“We are really focussed on continuing to educate people about lab-grown diamonds and introduce our brand to more people, but ultimately, one of our biggest goals is to eventually help bring an end to unethical diamond mining. That’s a lofty goal, but an important one – and we’re starting to lay the groundwork now.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimaï

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