Courbet: ecodisrupting Place Vendôme
In the heart of the Paris sanctum of fine jewellery, Maison Courbet is disturbing the peace with its synthetic diamonds grown in the lab rather than mined from the ground.
At No 7 Place Vendôme in Paris, Courbet Jeweller is laying its cards on the table, leading with recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds. Its strong suit? Ethical jewellery that respects the environment by making gems from scratch rather than tearing them out of the earth. No more cavernous pits disfiguring the African or Australian landscapes. All of Courbet’s diamonds are grown in the lab using cutting-edge technology that combines high pressure and temperature with chemical vapour deposition, a process that recreates the vacuum-like conditions under which natural diamonds begin to form.
It takes three to four weeks to grow a raw diamond in the lab, explains Manuel Mallen, cofounder along with Marie-Ann Wachtmeister of the next-generation jeweller. “Lab-grown diamonds have the same physical, chemical and optical properties as mined diamonds. But in terms of their impact on the environment, not to mention mineworkers, they’re a cut above.”
Colour–Clarity–Cut–Carat (4Cs) and type
“Out of a given ‘batch’ we only select the finest diamonds whose [lack of] colour is graded no lower than F [on a scale of D to Z] and whose clarity is graded VS or higher [minor to slight to no inclusions], according to market standards. Diamonds are also classified by type: 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, with 2A diamonds considered the most pure. Whereas only 2% of mined diamonds are classified as 2A, 100% of synthetic diamonds are.”
Courbet’s synthetic diamond collections will soon appear at Printemps’ flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, with a diamond nursery planned in SW France by 2020. The cases for these diamonds come from Brittany where they are made at an independent workshop that works recycled leather. “Scrap leather is first ground then mixed with natural rubber to form a paste that is then worked like regular leather.” Metal is eschewed (the catch is made of criss-crossing flaps) and only natural adhesives are used.
Courbet’s internal cases are made of recycled cardboard in origami to avoid having to use any adhesives, and its bags are made of recycled paper – of course!