80 226
Fashion Jobs
Associate Manager pt 20-29
Permanent · MILPITAS
Associate Manager - Full Time
Permanent · WAIPAHU
Director, Marketing - Cobra Golf
Permanent · Carlsbad
us Integrated Marketing Associate Manager - Hoka
Permanent · GOLETA
SR. Manager, Supply Chain Excellence
Permanent · GOLETA
SR. Analyst, Global Supply Chain
Permanent · GOLETA
Assistant Demand Planner
Permanent · GOLETA
Sports Marketing Manager - Athletes
Permanent · GOLETA
MAC Keyholder - Full Time - Tyson's Corner Center - Mclean, VA
Permanent · McLean
Finance Manager
Permanent · ATLANTA
Abercrombie & Fitch + Hollister CO. - Brand Representative, Gurnee Mills Outlet
Permanent · Gurnee
Part Time Keyholder
Permanent · Woodbury
Field Sales Account Executive (Luxury Manager)
Permanent · Newport Beach
Asset Protection Outlet Visual Security Officer, Part Time - Park Lane
Permanent · DALLAS
Asset Protection Visual Security Officer, Part Time - Chevy Chase
Permanent · CHEVY CHASE
Manager, Sales - Yes
Permanent · WHITE PLAINS
Asset Protection Visual Security Officer, Full Time - 59th Street
Permanent · NEW YORK
Associate Manager- Part Time
Permanent · Chandler
Area Manager - Evenings - Inventory
Permanent · HANOVER
Asset Protection Associate - Provo Towne Center
Permanent · Provo
Sales Floor Supervisor - Valley Fair Mall
Permanent · West Valley City
Sales Floor Supervisor - Provo Towne Center
Permanent · Provo
Jul 22, 2023
Reading time
7 minutes
Download the article
Click here to print
Text size
aA+ aA-

As Paris embraces eco jewelers and lab grown diamonds, we meet Courbet, Mazarin and Cris Porto

Jul 22, 2023

Paris, the world leader in fashion and fine jewelry, has finally opened its arms to a new category of luxury – lab grown diamonds. Even in its nerve center – Place Vendôme.

Courbet - DR

The storied square, home of Napoleon’s famous column and the city’s classiest hotel, the Ritz, is also the beating heart of high-end jewelry – boasting huge flagships by the likes of Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari and nearby Cartier.
Haute Joaillerie, to give it its French term, has become such a hot category, a trio of major league fashion houses – Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton - have built substantial jewelry divisions. All three of them have jewelry retail presences in Place Vendôme too.

All these marques recently celebrated a week of lavish displays of multi-million necklaces and watches, during the Paris haute couture season, though the names that caught one’s attention were two new ones, Courbet and Maison Mazarin, both stylish and savvy labels based on lab grown diamonds.
The week also witnessed the arrival of a new Brazilian talent, Cris Porto, who celebrated her first retail space in France – inside the Ritz’s concept store with a fete in the hotel.

Though the surprise news was the growing influence of lab grown diamonds, which is attracting substantial investments from luxury power brokers. Last year, luxury behemoth LVMH Luxury Ventures took a substantial stake in a €90 million investor round in Israeli lab diamond specialist Lusix. Though none of LVMH's  own brands uses lab diamonds, except TAG Heuer in a first step with a Carrera Plasma Diamant d’Avant-Garde. While Chanel Corp. acquired 13% of Courbet in its most recent round of funding, valuing the marque at €60 million.
Both lab pioneers are led by dynamic duos. Chez Courbet creative director Marie-Ann Wachtmeister and president Manuel Mallen; chez Mazarin, Louise de Rothschild and Keagan Ramsamy.
“The growth of lab grown diamonds is like an avalanche. You cannot stop it. Lab diamonds have a much lower environmental footprint, a shorter supply chain and better cost structure, and there is huge innovation happening there,” says Marie-Ann.
By working with lab diamonds, Courbet also escapes the oligopoly of mining giants De Beers, Rio Tinto and Alrosa from Russia.
“They control who gets to buy and these buyers are in turn forced to buy a mixture of different stones,” notes Mallen.
Holding up a nine-carat lab diamond, he stresses, “it took one year to make this stone. It’s a process you cannot really control. Whereas, if I wanted a mined diamond of nine carats, a few calls and you have 30 offers in one week. If you want that from a lab, you need time,” says Mallen.  
Currently, lab diamond are mainly made in America – Aether Diamonds, La Brilliante and WD. More latterly in France, where Courbet has invested in Diam Concept – a French firm which boasts that its one carat diamond has the carbon footprint of an expresso.
“One needs a lot of power to make a lab diamond, and because France has so many nuclear power plants it is the third most decarbonated in the world,” says the Mallen, pulling out photos of a two-kilometers-wide Russian mine, blasted open by dynamite.
“One carat is 0.2 grams, and sometimes to find it you have to extract 250 tones of minerals from a mine. That’s the weight of three passenger planes,” he underlines.

Courbet - DR

Courbet also uses gold from e-waste, recovered from computer graphic cards by closed loop metals supplier Agosi of Germany.
“Our gold is 15% more expensive but it’s worth it. In terms of style, Courbet is timeless with an audacious twist – we don’t want classic. Don’t want to go in the direction of fashion and collections each six months. We believe in buying better and less. Not more and cheaper,” said Wachtmeister.
Marie-Ann began with P&G, moved to McKinsey, then became a mum, and founded a telecoms company. After discovering her talent in a jewelry workshop, she learned how to set stones, and got a patent for her interlocking ring, for which she signed a license deal in India with Tata, which is how she met jewelry industry veteran Mallen. Together they registered the Courbet name in 2017.
Her opening idea was a novel ring – where a petal shaped top can be detached from the ring. While her bridal section plays with interwoven Cs. Another series flirts with tennis, like the sleek bracelet in green and white diamonds that mimics the trim of a V-neck tennis jersey. A Tennis pave ring starts at €5,900, its bracelet retails for €11,000, while its necklace costs €60,000.
To celebrate its French lab diamonds, Courbet launched a 'Pont des Arts' bracelet, playing on the locks that lovers attach to the romantic bridge. A rugby fan, Manuel even developed an oval shaped ring to celebrate the next Rugby World Cup, to be staged in France this autumn.
For more statement moments, there is the 'Constellation' necklace, proudly displayed in Courbet’s showroom at 7 Place Vendôme. He boasts that the grandest example of lab diamonds produced is Courbet’s made-in-Paris Constellatio. It  has over 1,000 diamonds costing some €600,000. Reacting to this new lab-driven competition, several major jewelry brands have begun insisting that crafts people in Paris must not work with lab diamond brands.
That has not stopped Chanel Corp investing in Courbet, alongside another shareholder - the Qatar royal family.
Courbet’s annual sales this year will be €4 million, selling in targeted top retailers like Arije on rue Pierre Charron, and in Monaco and London. Next, they plan to open in a Qatar mall – aptly named, Place Vendôme.
The name Courbet is a homage to the painter Gustave Courbet, most notorious for his Origin of the World full frontal nude oil painting. In 1871, Gustave was a high ranking official in the Commune, and led the dismantling of Napoleon’s column. After the restoration of order, he was condemned to pay for its restoration which bankrupted him.
“So, we are following in his footsteps, revolutionizing the Place Vendôme, but for a good reason!” smiled eco-jeweler Mallen.
“The younger generation want lab grown diamonds. Mining is not cool anymore. Today in the USA, 70% of jewelers are now proposing lab diamonds. But Chaumet and Boucheron cannot put them in their shop window. If they say its ecological, it means all the rest of their product line is not eco-responsible. Jewelry is increasingly becoming branded. A decade ago, only 20% of jewelry was branded, the other 80% was not. So, jewelry is the last territory for brands to enter,” concludes Marie-Ann.

Maison Mazarin - DR

Just 300 meters away Mazarin set up for business on Faubourg Saint Honoré last September. Founded by Louise de Rothschild and Keagan Ramsamy, Mazarin is the latest entrant into haute lab diamond jewelry.
The duo met while working for auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés, where Mauritius-born Ramsamy was in charge of jewelry for a decade. Mazarin already retails on Moda Operandi, in La Chambre on rue Rouget de Lisle, near the Tuileries, and its own online boutique.
“It’s pretty incredible that the name of one of France’s most famous statesmen and art collectors Cardinal Mazarin was never made into a brand, but we have managed to,” beamed de Rothschild.
Their first design is an elephant, symbolizing memory, luck, strength and fragility. “It also symbolizes waking up to the planet and doing something responsible,” said Ramsamy,
The elephant herd is led by mat satin gold bracelets where the pachyderm’s trunk holds a large diamond priced at €46,000. While an elephant head pendant/brooch dusted in diamonds costs €25,000, and a hand sculpted elephant ring made in a mat satin gold sells for €7,500.

All made with lab diamonds, sourced from Diam Concept along with US and Antwerp suppliers. Mazarin selects the purest quality DEF colorless diamonds, with VVS quality, meaning very, very small inclusions. Their gold is all recycled and production is exclusively by Paris-based artisans located close to Place Vendôme.
Mazarin’s style is subtle, charming and refined. Earrings include a blue and white diamond pair contrasted with white and blue mother of pearl. Or an intriguing earpiece tipped with triangular diamonds that wraps around the ear and is priced at €6,000.
A newer collection called Eberis – Latin for ivory – includes a golden tusk shaped necklace priced at €30,000. While gold thread band engagement rings with 2 carat diamonds retail for €15,000.
“We believe strongly that there are many dark areas to the jewelry industry today, and that by using lab diamonds and today’s technology we’re living in our times both ecologically, morally and creatively,” stressed Keagan.
While 10% of all revenues from the sale of a new group of silk and chain bracelets with elephant paw charms goes to support African eco-charity Big Life Foundation’s mobile patrols in Kenya preventing poaching. An elephant never forgets.

Cris Porto - DR

Across the square, Cris Porto made her Paris debut in June. Born in Minas Gerais but based in São Paulo, Porto is the latest arrival in the mecca of jewelry.
Porto concentrates on red and green tourmalines, or bright aquamarines all sourced and cut in Brazil, and then pairs these strong primary colors with internationally sourced and eco-certified white diamonds and yellow and white gold.
“We believe in rainbow colors. So, Brazilian jewelry is the brightest in the world,” she explains. Showing her twisted Bejart ring, a homage to choreographer Maurice.
Cris Porto is not for a shy gal, but one with the panache and the neck to don a €219,000 Valentine necklace with seven red tourmalines, 89 carats in total, and nine green tourmalines glimmering in a necklace composed of over 1,000 diamonds.
Porto boasts her own atelier in São Paulo, where she produces  the Lempicka aquamarine ring – priced at €100,000 - that looks like small swimming pools floating in a terrace of white diamonds. Or dangling Art Nouveau earrings where tiny diamonds are dotted onto small curtains of chains.
Cris Porto’s aesthetic is audacious yet classy, with hints of Art Deco mixed with Amazonia mystery. Like her jewelry she is bold and rather brilliant.


Copyright © 2023 FashionNetwork.com All rights reserved.