We are smitten with the fine jewellery of Lark & Berry, a London jeweller that was founded by Laura Chavez, which specialises in ethically sourced diamonds, gold and fine jewellery.
Laura’s ethos of using cultured diamonds means that no mining takes place when sourcing each precious stone, and with the added benefit of every diamond having full traceability, this proves that her diamonds will always be conflict-free. This ethos meant that when Lark & Berry launched in 2018 it launched to great applause by jewellery fans and critics alike.
We are desperate to know more about Laura Chavez, her background, and the reasons why she went into the jewellery making business, let’s ask a few questions to get to know the lady behind Lark & Berry.
Q. HOC. You studied in the US at Rice University in Houston Texas, and followed that with an MBA from London Business School, and then on to London Jewellery School, did you always know that you wanted to work within the jewellery industry?
Laura. I’d always loved fine jewellery, but it took me a while to get involved because I didn’t want to be a part of the controversial practices of the mined diamond industry.
I went to London Jewellery School just to learn more and whilst there, I happened upon the science of diamond culturing. I was amazed! The more I learned of cultured diamonds’ sustainable benefits, the surer I became that the only way I was going to enter the luxury jewellery market would be through exclusive use of these superior, environmentally responsible diamonds.
Q. HOC. Can you tell us more about cultured diamonds and why you use these precious stones in your unique designs?
Laura. Cultured diamonds are made in labs which replicate the exact circumstances under which diamonds form naturally underground. This means cultured are chemically and optically the same as mined diamonds, but that’s where the similarities end.
With cultured diamonds, we no longer have to mine, which hurts the whole environment—plants and trees, wildlife and people. With cultured diamonds, we get diamonds that are 100% genuine, enable no human rights abuses and are far friendlier to our planet. And we can price them fairly, too, since they aren’t subject to mined monopoly.
So, upon learning all this, I knew cultured diamonds and stones (all Lark & Berry jewellery is cultured) would be the only way I’d operate. Lark & Berry is the first exclusively cultured designer brand in luxury, and we’re so proud!
Q. HOC. You currently have a London store, and are looking to open in a number of other markets overseas, can you tell us where you are opening next, and why you have chosen those specific locations?
Laura. Yes, our London flagship has been open almost a year now and is doing great, due in no small part to our in-store luxury piercing concept. Lark & Berry is the first designer jewellery brand exclusively using cultured diamonds to have a piercing option in-store. For anyone reading this who’s interested, please book ASAP as we fill up fast!
Lark & Berry is set to launch in Scandinavia in a few months. We’re so happy about it, because that market eats and breathes sustainability—it made perfect sense for us. Additionally, we’re in talks to open pop-up concepts in Los Angeles and New York City and to be placed in other stores as well. We can tell the market wants cultured—our customers here have loved what we’re doing, and a rapidly increasing number of people are looking for a more sustainable option everywhere in luxury jewellery.
Q. HOC. Your designs range in price from around £200 and rise to over £100,000 – do you have a favourite piece from your collections that would come in under £500, and do you have a favourite piece that would come in over £50,000?
Laura. I love a lot of labrets from our piercing collections. Whether you’re into classic yellow gold and cultured diamonds or you want some colour in your life, we have many competitively priced options in our piercing ranges, some of which you can mix and match with each other to have several new looks throughout your week. Our piercings, which you can get in our London store begin at £95 ($120 USD), which include a piece from our 14k gold and cultured diamond capsule collection. Options range up to £450 ($575 USD) for diamond and sapphire adorned larger pieces.
I also wear our Nocturnal Wrap Ring, which is in the £800 range. It pairs well with our new Veto Open Stackable rings. They feature only the finest rubies and sapphires and come in about every colour you can imagine. Those Stackables are in the £300 range, and even without the Nocturnal ring as a centerpiece on your finger, the Stackables can be paired in endless, creative ways to keep you looking hip, fresh and ready for Summer!
And finally, over £50,000, my favourite is definitely our Bow collection, which just won the 2019 JCK Las Vegas Editor’s Choice award in design. This win for Bow shows that cultured diamonds are every bit the equal to mined diamonds. Our Bow suite consists of an 11.6 carat cultured diamond necklace, 2.5 carat cultured diamond earrings, and a 2.4 carat engagement ring and wedding band all set in platinum.
Q. HOC. Do you wear any other jewellery designer/brand aside from your own designs, and if so who?
Laura. I don’t currently wear any other brands, but I don’t rule it out. If and when I do, I will definitely only wear cultured diamonds.
I favour new start-ups that are purely about cultured diamonds. Lark & Berry is the first designer fine jewellery brand using only cultured diamonds and stones, and we couldn’t be prouder. Anyone who debuts with a similar approach, I support their cause!
Q. HOC. Your Instagram @larkandberry showcases your designs beautifully, and you have a huge following, do you find social media helps to promote your brand?
Laura. Yes, social media is of course key for a fashion brand, but I think it’s especially important for one like Lark & Berry. We’ve been called ‘diamond disruptors’ by the press for all the attention we’ve received in our efforts to educate and promote this new, sustainable diamond option.
So, when you’re doing something that’s labelled ‘disrupting,’ it’s incredibly necessary to have great, attention-grabbing social media, as that’s where people are talking about disrupting products. We even have a new, cultured diamonds podcast as well to keep people talking—it’s called The Diamond Disruptor. You can get it anywhere you subscribe to podcasts!
Q. HOC. Do you follow jewellery fashion trends when it comes to your designs?
Laura. At Lark & Berry, we try to always do our own thing. Our award-winning designs have garnered attention for their originality and artistry. But in general, when someone is looking to make the switch from mined diamonds to cultured, I like to think that we’ll have something for everyone, even those really only into classic, traditional design.
Q. HOC. Do you remember your first piece that you made and sold?
Laura. Lark & Berry launched our online store just over a year ago and then opened our London store shortly thereafter. We had several collections, and we experienced immediate success. I can’t remember now what was first, but the Veto line immediately took off, and we were sold out of about half of those pieces for almost 6 months due to overwhelming demand!
Q. HOC. Did anyone offer you any useful business advice before you launched Lark & Berry?
Laura. Not directly—I really wanted to do my own thing and trust my instincts. I have previous experience in the resorts sector in hospitality and then later served in an advisory role to a board of directors in that same industry. I also ran my own restaurant in Argentina for a time. I feel all that experience, coupled with my schooling in North America and London prepared me well to start Lark & Berry.
But throughout my life, my father and grandmother were very influential for me, both very smart people with wise lessons. I’ve also taken inspiration from founders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk—people who were every bit as visionary and creative as they were successful business leaders.
Q. HOC. Did anyone offer you any bad advice that you followed, and later wished you hadn’t?
Laura. Great question!
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is we had a PR company who didn’t deliver the results we’d hoped for, especially as we knew we had such a unique offering. I’ve found PR companies can be great, of course, but one thing I learned from that experience was to not rush into important decisions like that, so I looked around for an in-house person that was passionate about what we were doing.
You really have to be careful hiring outside companies to work with you, because I think it’s rare that people will be as passionate as your core team members. So I’m really all about promoting from within and giving people already doing great work for you more related responsibility—people that show a true, passion for our cultured diamonds company and causes.
Q. HOC. If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone thinking of getting into fine jewellery designing, what would it be?
Laura. The first piece of advice would be the same for anyone getting into any trade — don’t even do it unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing. You have to love your work, especially something that takes up as much of your time as starting a business or designing — whatever it is. It’s so competitive out there!
And for jewellery, no matter what sector it is one is looking to enter, I would ask people to please look into getting involved with cultured diamonds. Cultured diamonds aren’t just unique — they’re just a clear winner over mined diamonds for so many reasons.
With cultured, we get no human rights abuses or conflict that still happens in some areas, far less harm to Earth as no mining is needed and an equal diamond to its mined counterpart that is often better. Cultured diamonds are routinely Type IIa status, the world’s finest in diamonds. Only 2% of mined diamonds reach this purity benchmark.
The science alone is amazing. I think there’s still a lot of people out there who don’t even know cultured is an option with diamonds yet. I’ve even been the one to tell some people about it for the first time, and I love seeing the amazement on their faces learning of a diamond that through heat and pressure can be created scientifically in a lab, exactly replicating how they form underground.
I’ve also, firsthand, seen gemologists with years of experience not be able to tell cultured diamonds from mined diamonds; seen them admit defeat, because very simply, there’s nothing to tell apart!
Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #GBOGB Girl Bosses of Great Britain questions for House of Coco Magazine.