Words: José Berrocoso
“A few years ago, there were no true alternatives to the mined diamond. Today we have the choice and have no longer any reason to rummage through Earth for diamonds when science and technology make it posible to produce the exact same diamond.”
`Manuel Mallen, CEO of Courbet.
During past years a new diamond emerges to disrupt an industry known to be conservative. Rather than being born in the depths of the earth, this diamond emanates from strong ethics, deeply held values and from the most brilliant minds of Silicon Valley. The result is an opportunity for a more conscious choice, an ethical and ecological alternative to traditional jewelery.
French jewelry brand Courbet, founded by Manuel Mallen and Marie-Ann Wachtmeister in 2018, aims to offer the next generation of modern, ethical, sustainable and creative jewelry that respects the longheld Place Vendôme traditions of the art of luxury jewelry.
As for the name, Courbet was inspired by Place Vendôme itself. Courbet was the French rebel painter of nature and women, world famous for his painting L’Origine du Monde. What’s more symbolic of Courbet than dismantling the Napoleonic pillar at the center of Place Vendôme as a testament to his desire for world peace and change?
The process to produce Courbet’s lab-grown diamonds consists of “reproducing what nature did on its own billions of years ago. Note that growing diamonds implies the same level of uncertainly, when it comes to the quality of your diamond, that exists when you mine a diamond,” says Manuel Mallen.
Courbet’s jewelry is sustainable and ethical. The diamonds used in the jewelry have minimal impact on the environment. Known as ‘laboratory created diamonds’ they evolve in a controlled environment with full transparency, guaranteeing their ethical value. Courbet do not produce diamonds, they source them in laboratories. Since the production of diamonds costs so much energy, they have decided to work exclusively with labs that work on renewable energy. Therefore, their laboratory in Russia works on hydraulic energy and the one they work with in the US relies on solar energy. For Mallen, “the goal is to start sourcing diamonds directly in France, which is why we’ve been working with scientists to develop this initiative… keep an eye out for what the future holds.”
Each decision at the heart of Courbet is guided meticulously by the secritical values held dearly by the founders of the firm and their team. Even the jewelry boxes are made of recycled leather.
Marie-Ann Wachtmeister, Co-founder and Artistic Director, designs lasting jewelry. They wanted to create a timeless design that isn’t show-off or based on trends. Marie-Ann likes her creations to have a little twist, she redefines, in a way, what classic means. This implies that some of the pieces, like the rings, turn into earrings.
“There is a small quantity of diamonds left to mine on the planet and the practice of extracting them is bound to disappear. There is an increasing demand for diamonds and for a more sustainable way to consume. We offer an ecological and sustainable alternative to the old way of doing jewelry,” confirms Manuel Mallen.
The CEO of Courbet continues, “lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are the same thing. Saying otherwise equals to saying an ice-cube is not real because it comes from your freezer and not from the peak of a mountain. Both diamonds have the exact same characteristics except ours come from above the ground when others come from below the ground. Even more so, you will get the same certificate for a lab-grown diamond and for a mined diamond.”
So today, Courbet launches a new generation of jewelry, one that believes true beauty cannot exist without goodness. It is the heart and art of the modern jewelry movement that they are asking the world to join.