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Put an Eco-Conscious, Controversy-Free, Socially Aware Ring on It


Lab-grown diamonds are now available in Shanghai from Diamond Foundry.

By Paul Lawrence
2021-03-05 12:00:00

  • 1.

    So, They Can Make Diamonds Now

    Well, they could make diamonds before, but now they can make them with zero carbon footprint and completely indistinguishable from traditionally mined diamonds at comparable price points. The company is called Diamond Foundry, and they’re at the vanguard of a new trend in the gemstone market that brings sustainability and ethical processes to the center of the discussion. Newly available in Shanghai: shower your loved one (or yourself) in guilt-free diamonds for all occasions! Engagements… marriages… anniversaries… graduations… Tuesdays…

  • 2.

    Diamond Foundry Versus Real Diamonds

    Although born and raised — atom by atom — in a solar-powered lab, Diamond Foundry diamonds are the real deal. They offer the same optical, chemical, thermal, physical — sparkle!, dazzle!, shimmer!, shine! — features as real diamonds, and are classified and certified as such by the Gemological Institute of America. They come in all the same colors and clarities, and the fact that they’re individually grown means no two gems are alike.

  • 3.

    Zero Environmental and Social Impact

    In recent years, “conflict diamonds” — diamonds directly linked with conflict and civil wars in Africa in places like Sierra Leone, Angola, and Liberia — have come to comprise a minuscule portion of international rough diamond trade (around 0.1%). The significant environmental impact of diamond mining, however, is now the first discussion socially aware luxury consumers are having. Consider that 250 tons of earth is needed to produce a single gem. That’s… less than ideal. With lab-sourced solutions, no ecosystems are disrupted, no wildlife is displaced, no ground water is polluted, and no indigenous communities are affected.

  • 4.

    A Diamond Is a Diamond

    Once confined to the fringes of the luxury industry and viewed as “synthetic” and “artificial” stand-ins to the real deal, new technologies have emerged in the past few years that enable Diamond Foundry gems to be completely indistinguishable from their mined counterparts, and completely free of their controversial associations. Although engineered in a lab, these gems are pure carbon. “Mined or grown” is no longer a defining classification of gems — a diamond is a diamond is a diamond.

  • 5.

    How They Are Grown (Basically)

    Science! Lots of it! Lots of impressive sounding science! Okay, so. Basically. Here we go: Natural diamonds are made from pure carbon and take form over billions and billions (and billions) of years under high pressure and temperatures a couple hundred kilometers below the earth’s surface. Diamond Foundry diamonds, however, are grown from a thin foundation of an existing diamond. They use these huge science fiction-looking custom plasma reactors to recreate the earth’s natural temperature and pressure conditions. Crystal lattice is grown atom by atom onto the diamond foundation to create jewelry-grade gemstones.Then they slice off a pice of their naturally grown diamond, and reuse it as diamond foundation for growing more diamonds. These plasma reactors reach temperatures as hot as the surface of the sun. It’s an energy-intensive process, of course, but one that is entirely hydro and solar powered, thus offsetting any carbon footprint. Pictured here are the creators of this process, looking pretty pleased with themselves, with the plasma reactors at the Diamond Foundry in San Francisco.

  • 6.

    All Shapes and Sizes

    The fact that Diamond Foundry diamonds are grown means that their creators have a direct hand in their development, and new avant fashions and styles are now available to the consumer. Although, Diamond Foundry diamonds are available in 37 different shapes, each diamond forms in its own way, with its own one-of-a-kind inclusions and unique growth patterns. No two diamonds are alike. Each is unique to the core.

  • 7.

    LORD of the Diamond Rings

    There is perhaps no better example of what they can do now than this crazy thing right here. This is a ring that is entirely a diamond. The (RED) Diamond Ring, designed by Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson, was the first non-mined diamond auctioned at Sotheby’s ever. Hewn from a single stone, the ring concept raised 461,250 USD for Bono’s (RED) charity in support of the fight against AIDS.

  • 8.

    As Endorsed By…

    Oh, hello gratuitous picture of a smoldering Leonardo DiCaprio! With a production process that is 100% renewable energy-based, the company represents a shift in popular priorities, and caters to an affluent but eco-conscious consumer. Big-name backers in their formation in 2012 were iPod co-creator Tony Fadell, Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, and “Blood Diamonds” actor Leonardo DiCaprio. In recent years Diamond Foundry jewelry and collaborations have been seen and envied on red carpets around the world on actors like Patricia Arquette, Julia Roberts, Al Pacino, Drake, Gal Gadot, Lucy Liu, Rachel McAdams, and more. Guilt-free diamonds. It’s like the new thing.

  • 9.

    Shanghai Shimmers

    Onto the showroom in Shanghai! Let’s see what they’ve got. Diamond Foundry makes the gems and “Vrai” is their B2C jewelry brand. We want to throw around words like… Sleek. Posh. Minimal. Tasteful. Understated. Sumptuous. Diamond-y (Maybe we’ll let the pictures do the talking.)

  • 10.

    A Range of Luxury Pieces

    Luxurious luxury consumers can view their line and receive English-language consultation by appointment at their showroom in town. They offer a wide range of diamond wedding and engagement rings, of course, as well as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more.

  • 11.

    Our Diamond Guy

    Here’s Peter Lee, General Manager of Diamond Foundry China. Peter first discovered lab-grown diamonds back in 2018 when the company was entering China, then he quickly joined to help to establish the Chinese market. Here he is, pouring over a little human ingenuity.

  • 12.

    Okay, So What Am I Looking for in a Diamond Ring?

    Just get the biggest, most expensive one. Simple! Done. Well, no, you come in with your budget, and then you're choosing stone (size) first. And then cut, color, and design. Prices range from RMB 10k to 50k, depending on color and cut. Deciding factor is the size of course. Then the cut and color. The process takes two to four weeks after you’ve made your selection. These two are from a collection inspired by landmarks in San Francisco, the home of Diamond Foundry. The one on the right is inspired by the “Crookedest Street in the World”, Lombard Street, and the one on the left is inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge. These are one-karat varieties, priced in RMB 35k range

  • 13.

    No Time Like the…

    Two from their “Past, Present, Future” line — the three stones, with the center stone — the “present” — duly emphasized. Classic engagement ring design. Priced in the same range as above.

  • 14.

    Earrings… Essentially

    Moving away from rings, these are from their line of “Essential Earrings”. In selecting, you’re looking at the shape, color, and then the karat. They offer karats from 1/4 to 1 karat for earrings. (Or even bigger if that’s how you roll, player.) Custom designs and creations are also available from 1 karat on up. Prices are from 3,450rmb.

  • 15.

    Something a Little More Non-Comital

    They also offer a range of minimal and tastefully done bracelets and necklaces, from 1800rmb and up. As with the earrings and rings custom designs are available when purchasing from 1 karat.

  • 16.

    15% Off for SmartShanghai Readers for the Month of March!

    All Diamond Foundry diamonds are certified and registered by the Gemological Institute of America. They come with this serious and authentic looking document right here as testimony to their worth and pedigree. For the month of March, Vrai by Diamond Foundry is giving SmartShanghai readers 15% off. Just mention that you saw them on on SmSh! Contact: 156 1888 3080 Opening hours: 9.30am-7pm Mon-Fri (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: