BeComAware are thrilled to have interviewed Tenishia McSweeney – the Founder of Escorpi London. Tenishia shares all on Escorpi and lab-grown diamonds. Hear more about how the Federal Trade Commission ruled in 2018 that lab-grown diamonds are REAL diamonds, the environmental benefits, industry growth projections and the future of lab-grown diamonds.
What is Escorpi?
Escorpi is an ethical brand pairing laboratory grown diamonds with 18kt recycled gold as well as reimagining inherited gems into something wearable for today. Handmade in England, each piece is designed to be loved by its wearer and passed on for generations to come.
What is the story behind you setting up Escorpi?
Having always loved and appreciated the beauty of diamonds, I never thought I’d feel comfortable enough to wear them due to the lack of transparency of the mined diamond supply chains and the risk of them having helped to fund political or rebel conflicts somewhere else in the world. However when my father in law who has been in the diamond industry for many years suggested a lab-grown diamond as an alternative to a friend, because they have the exact same chemical, physical and optical composition as a mined diamond, I thought wow what a great great idea, more people need to know about this!
This led me to start researching lab-grown diamonds, and as my interest continued to grow I decided to dive in and study at the most prestigious gemology institute in the world; the GIA. Lab-grown diamonds have the exact composition as mined diamonds.
Tell us about you
I’m a mummy to a three year old boy, who is balancing that with building my own company in order to define a career that I hope to last me a lifetime of learning, exploring and growing. Coming from a diverse career background in PR, marketing and advertising I am keen to combine my learnings with my own skills to build something that matches my own ethics and values in which my success is determined by the level of energy I put in.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are made by replicating the process in which mined diamonds are made underground, but in a laboratory environment. This process means we can enjoy diamonds without excavating the earth, (1750 tonnes of earth are extracted for just 1 carats worth), it guarantees no conflict has been involved, and it is increasingly becoming more and more environmentally friendly. To top it off lab-grown diamonds are more affordable, meaning you can prioritise the money saved on either getting a larger/better quality stone or using the money saved towards your wedding!
Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?
Yes. The Federal Trade Commission ruled in 2018 that a diamond is a diamond whether it is grown in the earth or in a laboratory due to the fact it has the exact same chemical, physical and optical composition. The FTC is an American agency which has extremely detailed and stringent rules laid out to protect consumers from unfair or fraudulent practices in the marketplace, failure to follow these rules can lead to serious consequences. Being based in the UK, you may ask why this is so important. This is crucial to the diamond industry worldwide because the most trusted certification body, The GIA (Gemological Institute America) which sets the tone for the industry globally is an American company which follows these most stringent rules. To give you an idea of their importance, The GIA invented the 4 c’s grading system (cut, colour, clarity and carat) which is the universal grading system for all diamonds – mined, and lab grown. If the GIA accept that lab-grown diamonds are real then so should we! Another important point is even the most trained jeweller cannot tell if a diamond has been mined or created in a lab, it is only through specialised equipment in a lab that the difference can be distinguished, and even then, that is due to the difference in the inclusions they have which will be caused by the growth process, for example a lab-grown diamond will never include any garnet crystal or elements as the environment they are grown in is 100% controlled.
Can you share some useful facts about lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are graded using the 4 c’s just like mined diamonds and when purchasing any diamond you need to make sure it is certificated. This will confirm the clarity characteristics of the diamond you are buying, however stones below 0.5 ct are not typically graded, due to not being cost effective, as grading costs money.
Are lab-grown diamonds considered more ethical and environmentally-friendly than mined diamonds and if so, how?
Lab-grown diamonds impact the environment and surrounding environments less, remove the need to excavate the earth, provide a way to purchase diamonds using a traceable supply chain, it avoids child labour and political or rebel conflict issues, so yes, they provide a wonderful ethical alternative to mined diamonds.
Are any commercial retailers currently selling lab-grown diamonds?
The American market is way ahead of us in the lab-grown market so there are already many retailers there, and more and more of the big dogs of the mining industry, for example, Debeers, are selling lab-grown diamonds now. Here in the UK, If you look anywhere from Browns to Liberty, you will spot lab-grown brands selling their jewellery, the forefront of an industry which grew 300% in the last couple of years and is projected to be double in value by 2025.
What do you think the future is for lab-grown diamonds?
Awareness will grow significantly in the coming years, I meet so many people that have still never heard of lab-grown diamonds or at least don’t realise they share the exact composition of mined diamonds. Most people hearing this are keen to reap the benefits and I believe lab-grown diamonds will continue to provide people with an incredible way to enjoy diamonds in an ethical way, and one can also provide a great means to save money.