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Customize Your Diamond Wedding Ring from Scratch, Atom by Atom

21 PHOTOS

How your bespoke, lab-grown diamond wedding ring from Diamond Foundry gets made


By Paul Lawrence
2022-08-07 12:00:00

  • Time to Put a Ring on It
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    Time to Put a Ring on It

    For most people in this life, there comes a time — (or even several times, hey, it happens) — when you’re ready to bring your relationship with that special someone to the next level, and solidify your commitment in stone. Yes, we’re talking about marriage. And the stone we’re specifically talking about is diamonds.  

    But diamonds… can bring up some negative associations. Although the “blood diamond" trade is largely a thing of the past, the massive environmental impact of diamond mining is still a huge concern and can put a pretty heavy damper on the romance a bit when you think about the amount of damage done for just one diamond stone to come into being.  

    To do it up right, you’re going to want to pick out a stone that is eco-conscious, carbon-neutral, conflict-free, and totally, absolutely, 100% not-guilt-inducing — just like your love! You’re going to want to get a lab-grown diamond. And now you can in Shanghai, completely customized to all your best creative and romantic impulses, from American diamond grower Diamond Foundry and their Shanghai-based B2C jewlery brand, VRAI. 

  • Real Diamonds at a Third of the Cost
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    Real Diamonds at a Third of the Cost

    Featured on CNN, Forbes, Vogue, named one of the 50 top inventions of 2018 by Time Magazine, and certified as the world's first diamond producer, Diamond Foundry is an American start-up that creates lab-grown diamonds that are unique unto themselves and pure carbon gems — and completely indistinguishable from mined counterparts. Synthetic, artificial diamonds are nothing new for the industry.  Only in the past few years, however, has the technology been invented than can produce the exact same optical, chemical, and thermal properties in lab-grown stones as in mined diamonds, to the extend that they are classified as such by the Gemological Institute of America.

    In addition to that, lab-grown diamonds come in at a third of the cost compared to their mined counterparts. 

     

  • Big Rocks, No Guilt
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    Big Rocks, No Guilt

    Out there in the world today, we are — and we really, really should be — deeply conscious and mindful of the impact our actions are having on the planet.  Consider the pollution, displacement of indigenous communities and wildlife, disruption to ecosystems invovled in diamond mining... it's just bad vibes.  Just all around. Super uncool.  

    If you’re looking for an ethical and sustainable way to put a big rock on the third finger of your one true love, you should look into lab-grown rocks. 

    Each carat of VRAI-created diamonds saves 143 pounds of carbon diaoxide, 2,011 ounces of air pollution, and 250 tons of earth.

    Later on, we’re going to take a peak behind the scenes at how they are made — atom by atom — in the Columbia River-powered facility in the States, how they are refined and processed here in China in Xi’an, and how you can get one customized here in Shanghai at VRAI.  

    But first, the celebrity endorsements! 

  • As Endorsed By...
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    As Endorsed By...

    The Silicon Valley company, counts Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio among its backers. Other investors include Tony Fadell, iPod creator and former chief executive of smart home pioneer Nest, Mark Pincus, the founder of video game group Zynga, and Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum.

  • Lab-Grown Diamonds Are So Hot Right Now
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    Lab-Grown Diamonds Are So Hot Right Now

    Lab grown diamonds have been embraced by all your favorite stars of fashion and filmdom — hey, they’re diamonds that also function as symbols of one’s social awareness, self reflexivity, and consideration.  That’s called “good optics”.

    For the runway, VRAI has done collaborations with Balmain, Givenchy, Dover Street Market, Johy Ive & Marc Newson, and RANDM to name a few.  On the red carpet, scads of celebs have been spotted in their stones, including Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner, Sarah Snook, Angelina Jolie, Jada Pinkette-Smith, Julia Roberts, Gal Godot, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, and of course, one of Diamond Foundry’s key investors Leonardo DiCaprio.  

    Leo! 

  • Never-Seen-Before Shapes and Sizes Are Now Available
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    Never-Seen-Before Shapes and Sizes Are Now Available

    One of the coolest aspects of Diamond Foundry diamonds, is that because they are grown, creators have a direct influence on every stage of their development, and never-seen-before shapes and sizes are available.  Although each diamond is unique and one-of-a-kind, forming with their own individual growth patters, just like they would naturally, 50 different shapes in new fashions and styles are available to order.  They’re also available in all the same colors and clarities as mined diamonds.  

  • Divine Ingenuity
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    Divine Ingenuity

    This one right here is a solid diamond crucifix presented to, and blessed by, His Holiness Pope Francis AKA the Cool Pope.  This is the world's first solitaire cross — a cross-cut and polished gem created out of a single crystal of diamond grown by Diamond Foundry.  The Pope has been very vocal on environmental issues and the mining industry in particular.  In 2021, he gave his holy endorsement as a blessing, literally, of the work Diamond Foundry is doing in shifting industry practice away from ecologically destructive harmful diamond mining.  

  • How to Make Diamonds
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    How to Make Diamonds

    Diamond Foundry diamonds are blasted into existence using these heavy duty plasma reactors at their facility in San Francisco — Greenhouse Gas Crystallizers™, technology 10 years in the making.  Diamond is fundamentally carbon material crystallized in a certain, tetrahedral organization.   These pure carbon formations naturally form over billions of years under high pressure and temperatures below the earth’s surface.

    These plasma reactors recreate those exact same conditions and… speed up that process significantly. 

  • Growing Jewelry-Grade Gemstones
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    Growing Jewelry-Grade Gemstones

    In the plasma reactors, source greenhouse gases are atomized into carbon. The carbon atoms rain onto a diamond surface providing the template by which new atoms can attach in the proper organization of a diamond crystal. Crystal lattice is grown atom by atom onto the diamond foundation to create jewelry-grade gemstones. Many other structures form but only diamond survives the intensity of the plasma.  It’s an energy-intensive process, of course, but one that is entirely hydro and solar powered, thus offsetting any carbon footprint.

  • Hand-Crafted Gems
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    Hand-Crafted Gems

    After being grown in the States, the rough diamonds are then sent to a special diamond workshop facility in Xi’an, where expert crafters fullfiull orders for VRAI shops around the world. It takes a month or two to cut and polish a single piece by hand. 

  • A Quick Stopover in Dubai
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    A Quick Stopover in Dubai

    After being crafted in Xi'an, the diamonds then travel to an office in Dubai -- of course, Dubai -- where they are inspected, processed, and categorized, and then shipped to consumers and VRAI stores everywhere.  

  • Journey's End
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    Journey's End

    Born in Columbia River-powered plasma reactors in San Francisco, USA, filtered through the artisans in Xi'an, and finally passing inspection in Dubai, your diamond ring comes to Shanghai at the showroom at VRAI.

  • Introducing VRAI
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    Introducing VRAI

    VRAI is Diamond Foundry's jewlery retail brand, with two showroom in Shanghai. They offer English-language consultation by appointment and a wide range of diamond wedding and engagement rings, of course, as well as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more.  The Shanghai outlets are part of a globally spanning network of stores, united in the same missions statement: "No mining. No emissions. No guilt."

    It's right there in the name: "Vrai" is a fancy way (read: French) saying "true" and "real". 

    Just like your love, awww... 

  • VRAI X Givenchy @ the Met Gala
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    VRAI X Givenchy @ the Met Gala

    VRAI was recently rep'ed at the 2021 Met Gala After Party on the wrist of Kendall Jenner. She was wearing a Givenchy in collaboration with VRAI G-Chain Bracelet -- designed with 352 sustainably created diamonds and recycled solid gold.

    Sparkly!  

    (And carbon neutral!) 

  • How to Buy Diamonds
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    How to Buy Diamonds

    In creating your custom wedding ring the first thing you’re doing is selecting your diamond.  In determining a stone's quality, you're looking at the "4C's" -- four globaly recognized intersecting aspects that determine how much a stone is worth: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. 

    Cut: how a diamonds features interact with light. 

    Color: A stone's natural tint. 

    Clartiy: a measure of the purity and rarity of the stone. 

    Carat: a stone's weight. 

    So, it’s like anything else in the world: how much are you looking to spend? Price points coming about one third of mined diamonds, Diamond Foundry gems are available in the RMB 10k to 50k range.  

  • Express Yourself in Diamonds
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    Express Yourself in Diamonds

    After you’ve selected your stone size, you’re moving into deciding the cut, color, and design.  And through these options is where the creativity and personal expression comes to bear.  The whole process takes two to four weeks after you’ve confirmed your order. 

  • How to Design Your Own Ring
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    How to Design Your Own Ring

    Finally, you select your ring design.  There are two ways to go here. You can choose from a range of existing designs or you can work with a professional VRAI designer to create your own — by far the more involved choice. If you go this route there are a few caveats.  If your stone is over 1 carat, you can show the designer a picture of a ring you would like recreated and they will do that for you — say, you’d like to recreate your mother’s wedding ring or something.  

    Alternatively, if you are spending more than RMB 40,000, you can personally work with a designer to create something unique.  For inspiration, you can think of memorable moments or memorable places you have visited with your SO — something like that.  Something symbolic of your story together, maybe.  

    (Or dolphins!) 

    In two weeks, VRAI’s designer will create two versions for you to see.  If you’re not happy, they can go back and make modifications.  It’s a creative process…

  • VRAI Best Sellers
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    VRAI Best Sellers

    For a reference on what other people are getting, for wedding rings, the most popular options offered by Vrai are the Signature Solitaire, Classic Engagement Rings, and the Three Stone setting. Round Brilliant, Oval, and Emerald shaped Vrai created diamonds are the most popular diamond shapes and are most often featured in platinum or 18k solid yellow gold settings.

  • English-Speaking Support Staff Available!
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    English-Speaking Support Staff Available!

    Whichever route you choose, we're sure it's the right choice.  VRAI have really great customer support and they can walk you through the whole process of getting the right wedding ring -- from budgeting stone size, to shape, to design -- even if you're coming from a place where you think getting a dolphin one might not be such a bad idea. 

  • Contact Information
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    Contact Information

    All Vrai diamonds are certified and registered by the Gemological Institute of America. VRAI by Diamond Foundry is giving SmartShanghai readers 15% off in August and September 2022. Just mention that you saw them on on SmSh! Contact: 156 1888 3080. Opening hours: 9.30am-7pm Monday-Friday (need to make a reservation before coming). Add contact to make a reservation. Also available on Tmall search: diamondfoundry. You can directly connect with an English-speaking sales agent at their downtown Shanghai showroom by adding this WeChat account:

    or add this WeChat account to contact the Hongkou store:

     

  • 21 .
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    A Diamond Is a Diamond

    Check out this video for more on Diamond Foundry and VRAI, making the world a more beautiful and sparkling place, without any of the evironmental or human cost of diamond mining.