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Minka Jewels On The Allure Of Preloved Diamonds


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By Lucy Cocoran on 12th March 2024

In Minka Jewels' new bridal collection, preloved diamonds are front and centre. But, where do these fit into the mining versus lab grown debate?

Below, we talk to the esteemed gemologist about the power of giving precious gemstones a new lease on life.

The saying ‘diamonds are forever’ has long rung true…and for good reason. These durable stones have a longstanding history as an investment piece, possessing the power to be passed down through generations as a connecting force between past, present and future. 

Given the stones' longevity, bridal jewellery has long been synonymous with diamonds. Their shared history dates back several centuries to 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed to Mary Burgundy with the first diamond engagement ring.

The world has come a long way since 1477, but the world's fascination with this glittering jewel has only intensified. When esteemed, London-based jeweller Minka Jewels launched its bridal collection in November 2023, the reception was unsurprisingly positive. With twelve new designs, the collection has a strong focus on old mine cut diamonds, trapezoid cuts and signature coloured gemstones. 

“I think there's a lot of people out there wanting something a bit more, particularly if they don't want to go down the brand new diamond route,” Minka's founder, Lucy Crowther, tells The Sybarite. 

“Having something which already has a past is nice and it’s more sustainable because you’re not going out and buying something completely new, you’re reconstructing something.” 

This concept is known as ‘preloved’ which is a more than familiar term, courtesy of the second hand fashion markets’ continued boom. It makes sense then, that the same logic can be applied not only to jewellery, but to the precious stones, as people turn to one-of-a-kind pieces with a bit of a backstory over a mass-produced alternative. 

Crowther traces the idea of working with preloved stones back to a flurry of clientele who came to her with a “lovely stone in a dated setting.”

“I could pop out, recut or re-polish it,” Crowther explains, before adding that there is something “quite charming and beautiful” about older stones. 

“To me, they've got more character,” she says. “There's a really beautiful allure to them.” 

As for how they come to possess the level of character which can’t be manufactured, Crowther credits the cutting process. 

“They’re not cut in the same way,” she says. “A lot of them would have been cut by hand rather than by machine, so you’re seeing bigger facets which means the light bounces around inside them differently.” 

From here, Crowther can place a modern cut around the diamond, making it appear like a brand new stone and masking its preloved status, should the client wish. 

Despite the ability of jewellers such as Minka to transform the appearance of preloved stones, the increasing demand for lab grown diamonds cannot be denied. But, like any technological advancements, this new form of diamond making comes at a cost. 

“It’s amazing what they can do, because they’re basically recreating a stone in a laboratory, but the amount of energy it takes to create them is not necessarily that eco-friendly,” Crowther explains. “It’s taking a huge amount of energy to produce that one piece.” 

The diamond mining versus lab grown debate raises issues around ethics and environmentalism, with both options presenting positive and negative aspects. In order to create lab grown diamonds, the high pressure and temperature conditions found underground must be recreated. According to the International Gem Society, on average, producing one polished carat of lab-grown diamond releases 511 kg of greenhouse gases. This is more than three times what it takes to create one polished carat of mined diamond and typically comes from fossil and non-renewable fuels. On the other hand, diamond mining is incredibly disruptive to the natural environment, contributing to deforestation, ecosystem destruction and soil erosion, not to mention its complicated history. 

Given the stakes, preloved diamonds present a conscious alternative which contribute to a circular economy and extend the lifespan of stones which already exist. And, as Crowther points out, there are aesthetic benefits as well, like their one-of-a-kind nature. 

“Labs aren’t looking to create diamonds that have an inclusion [imperfection] or a colour that’s probably less than an F, so they all look quite perfect. So, if you’re wanting to find something which is a bit unique and different, a lab grown might not be the one for you.” 

For Crowther, this point of difference comes from preloved diamonds and stones, which is why Minka Jewels is such a big advocate of working with them. 

“Lab grown diamonds don’t have the allure of knowing that nature has made it and it’s come out of the ground, like a little treasure from the earth,” she says.  

At the end of last year, Minka began looking into coloured diamonds, which is a natural progression for the brand, given its trademark is colourful stones. 

“There's something really unique about them and people's personality gets to shine through because they're choosing a colour that reflects them,” she says. “That's why we love working with blue and yellow sapphires, because you get such an array of colour and it's something different — it's not just another ring.” 

No matter the cut or colour, an engagement ring is a deeply personal piece of jewellery. Jewellers such as Minka understand this on a deep level, encouraging a collaborative design process and a truly unique end product. So, whether it be considering the preloved route for a bridal piece or playing with the possibility of a coloured stone, Minka Jewels is the voice of authority to be relied on by any bride-to-be.

Minka Jewels

Address: 14 South Molton Street, London, W1K 5QP

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