There is a difference between a synthetic diamond and an artificial diamond. The first, the synthetic diamond, recreates the structure of pure carbon: the stone is produced in a laboratory. The second, the artificial diamond, recreates the process of the stone’s formation in a laboratory. People have been attempting to recreate diamonds in a lab since the 19th century – studies can be found dating from 1879. It was rightly believed that rebuilding a pure, rational, and geometric structure out of carbon – a tetrahedral grid of carbon atoms – was possible, and soon the synthetic diamond became a reality. Science continued to perfect these experiments, ultimately challenging the market to distinguish between a synthetic stone and a natural one. Identifying the differences is now a technical procedure that can only be accomplished through microscopic examination of the inclusions, of the color refraction under UV light, of the striations, and of the imperfections. The difference remains substantial: a synthetic diamond does not achieve the value of a natural diamond.
“Send them to the mines” – a phrase we’ve heard from kings and dictators, in films as well as in children’s cartoons, a phrase that has almost become a proverb, that rings like a condemnation. In ancient history, slaves were sent to the mines; in more recent times, convicts and outcasts. As a result of 19th century colonialism, the slavery created by the empires forced entire nations into an economy based on inhumane working conditions. Today, in the Congo and in Sierra Leone, a decline in mining would deepen economic destabilization. The concept is clear: a commitment to industrial ethics cannot focus solely on the evolution of manufacturing processes, but must equally support and accompany the civil transformation that results from these new market contingencies.
Cultivating a positive attitude towards progress (and today an opposing standpoint is not acceptable), the luxury sector can afford the duty of guiding the tastes of the ruling classes. In confirmation of this positive attitude new codes of appreciation are emerging, based on consideration and respect. These days, those who can afford luxury want to know that it does not come at the expense of people or the environment. And remember, history has shown that the ruling class is not the privileged class, but rather a sociological and cultural nucleus that anticipates what the masses will be able to afford after a time span of at least several years.
Swarovski, for generations a family owned and family run company, which seems to be an exception in the industrial landscape (few companies hold a similarly advantageous position), has been able to make decisions that managerial leadership of a subordinate nature would not have been able to make. Industrial patents and classified technology are the bedrock of this empire, which today calls to mind the illuminated sovereigns that ruled the same Austrian territory in the time of Maria Theresa and Joseph II. An economic stability with which Swarovski now hopes to meet a new challenge: the artificial, not synthetic, creation of a diamond. A lab-created diamond that can match the quality of those mined in nature, and surpass their economic value thanks to an adherence to a code of ethics.
Swarovski’s lab-created diamonds are made by reproducing the mineral formation process, and not the mineral composition, in a laboratory. A process that was perfected within this past year, after twenty years of constant study and continuous development of techniques, as compared to the status of the synthetic process, today obsolete. Swarovski Created Diamonds: the technique begins by placing the seed of a diamond in conditions of intense pressure and heat; the stone grows layer after layer, mimicking the extreme conditions found underground in high-altitude rocky areas. The diamonds appear identical to those found in mines and are almost impossible to identify if not with the help of specific technical equipment. So that the value of the human diamond is evident to its clients, a laser inscription on the stone ensures the impossibility of confusing these diamonds with mined ones.
The creation of the diamond arrived after the ability to recreate other gems – topaz, rubies, emeralds – already accomplished in previous years. With the arrival of the human diamonds, the first ‘Fine Jewelry’ collection was created, intended to be the first series by Atelier Swarovski, the Swarovski brand that, since 2007, has created an archive of crystal and gemstone jewelry influenced by design and fashion.
The milestone of the human diamond is, therefore, the starting point for the Fine Jewelry collection – an effort that began with several pieces presented last year exclusively through celebrity endorsement, and that will be developed in the coming seasons – while the next endeavor will clearly be non other than high fashion jewelry.