Good As New, Overcoming Recycled Diamonds’ Inferiority Complex
Diamond is the hardest mineral on the planet, so it’s no wonder it’s regarded as the ideal product for recycling. Because of its strength and durability, diamond can be used more than once without trace-of-wear.
Recycled diamonds actually offer the perfect story of sustainability — averting the need to mine or grow in a lab a new diamond product. Recycled diamonds also deliver on natural diamond’s “forever” promise, by maintaining their value as a precious, finite gemstone, and as an enduring symbol of love.
Yet, the perception exists that if a product is recycled/reclaimed/repurposed it may not be of superior quality.
Recycled diamonds, while not a new concept, is a category that many jewelers, designers and small manufacturers may never have considered before, because they perceive that what is available on the market is of inferior cut and quality to newly manufactured stones.
What they may not know is that the bulk of reclaimed diamonds (about 75%) are re-manufactured to modern cut specifications. Literally, the goods are good as new. That has been the experience of White Pine Wholesale, a leading supplier of recycled diamonds that buys exclusively from the diamond and jewelry trade.
When reclaiming diamonds, White Pine receives large parcels of mixed goods that include old makes, bad makes, chipped and broken stones, and an assortment of different sizes, shapes and qualities.
The stones are first cleaned by boiling them in acid to remove dirt and to “frost” any CZs in the parcel. While safe for diamonds, this chemical process etches out CZ in the mix. The remaining stones are tested through a synthetic diamond screening machine, and are then sorted by color, clarity, size, and cut.
White Pine CEO Benjamin Burne cites cut most important. “The broken stones, chipped stones, and poorly-cut stones are set aside for re-manufacture,” he says. “Each stone is recut to precise parameters to yield very good to excellent cuts. After the diamonds are received from the factory, they are re-checked for synthetics, before they are added to our stock for sale to the diamond trade.”
While some jewelers prefer and seek out older diamond cuts for their designs, suppliers like White Pine have developed programs to remodel stones and bring them up to today’s brilliant cut standards, for which most jewelers require.
Designers Embrace Recycled
Designer brands like Catbird NYC, Bario Neal, Ecksand, and Monica Rich Kosann are successfully selling recycled diamonds in their jewelry collections.
Bario Neal’s recycled diamonds are repurposed from old stock or other jewelry, and sourced from U.S. based distributors that specialize in recycled diamonds. Ecksand cites its recycled diamonds are recut and repolished to strict quality standards (like newly mined diamonds) before being set in new jewelry.
Rony Vardi for Catbird shares on the brand website that after years of looking for responsibly mined stones she found a better option in recycled goods, with all of the brilliant cut diamonds that are used in her designs recycled diamonds.
In late 2021, Monica Rich Kosann launched its Diamond Reborn™ collection, dubbed as “another step towards more sustainable jewelry.” Her Diamonds Reborn uses post-consumer recycled gold and repurposed natural diamonds from older jewelry styles, to create a brand new 18K gold fine jewelry style for a new generation. “It reflects our commitment as a Certified B Corp. to create collections that will help ensure a more sustainable jewelry future,” she said.
Designer Michelle Fantaci described recycled diamonds as “another option to the least harmful materials, along with recycled gold and responsible sourcing.” In a May 2021 JCKonline article, “Recycled Diamonds Offer Eco-Conscious Jewelers Some Assurances,” Fantaci said that she has used recycled diamonds in her fine jewelry collections for years. “I do what I can to make conscious choices.”
Sharon Zimmerman, the designer behind the brand Sharon Z Jewelry, also shared with JCK that she turned to recycled diamonds a decade ago when some suppliers started to offer them. “Choosing reused diamonds is one of the easier choices I can make as a designer,” she told the trade journal.
Reclaiming their Time
Given the current state of disruption in the diamond market, it is perhaps the ideal time for recycled diamonds to take their place as an authentic, responsible alternative, advocates Burne.
Millions of diamonds have already been extracted from the Earth and set into jewelry for centuries. There is a ready and ever-growing supply to tap into. Jewelers can feel confident working with leading recycled diamond suppliers like White Pine Wholesale that re-manufacture large portions of their acquisitions to ensure they consistently meet modern standards for diamond cut.