“Conscious”—The New, Fifth ‘C’ of Diamonds

As ethical luxury and fashion become the most alluring trends of the contemporary age, natural diamonds promise lasting sparkle.

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Jewels often mark milestone moments in life and relationships. The first piece of jewellery from parents in teenage years, the slightly mature graduation gift, later something that is precious because it seals the memory of the first kiss, a secret embrace, the publicly declared engagement ring, jewels from the wedding night, an anniversary necklace perhaps or the sign, who knows, of a secret relationship.

Diamonds sparkle in such tales. They are intimate but give us soundboards to narrate our desires to the world. They also express cultural blends that shape and refine “trends”.

Given the jewellery trends that surged last year and will hold for much of 2021, the one on top of my list is the sustainability conversation around diamonds. Traditionally, sustainability was not a wearable idea, yet it stayed in the crevices of the Indian way of life. That is the way we were. Yet lately its practice and pursuit has dramatically changed with these ideas seeping into fashion. A few years back Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) introduced a sustainable fashion day to its bi-annual fashion week rollout and designers and consumers took note. Transitions are sometimes like groping in the dark; you stumble and jostle new paths bloom into view. The course for sustainability in fashion is almost like that. Today it is both a practice as well as a growing conviction. As an extension of that argument, choosing natural diamonds can enable course correction of our choices to remain in sync with responsible fashion; prevent the wear and tear of the planet. While some may choose asymmetrical settings in diamond jewellery and others could find multiple strings of diamond chains exciting (both are currently top trends), it is the kind of diamond you choose, that will eventually make the difference to how ethical you are in your choices. It is high time we add “conscious”, the fifth C to Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat—the famous four Cs that define the quality of diamonds.

My personal curiosity for diamonds pried open when I became a journalist avidly interested in research behind trends. Whether these trends were about society and arts, culture, clothes, jewellery or crafts. Books written and edited by Indian and international authors, like Beyond Extravagance: A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels edited by Amin Jaffer, the international director of Asian Arts at Christie’s in London. Coffee table tomes that featured stunningly photographed diamond jewellery from Dior, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels among other leading luxury house. And Dance of The Peacock by Indian author Usha R. Bala Krishnan inspired me to explore even more about heritage and modern jewellery.

My overarching exploration was the change in the way diamonds were designed and worn in the past compared to now. Is there a “then and “now” that fashion writers must be aware of? I became as interested in the sourcing, setting, designing of diamonds as in the forces that determine seasonal trends.

The jewellery sent out as part of the couture films and shows at the recent edition of Paris Couture Week Spring Summer 2021, in fact, makes it apparent that large pieces, statement jewellery, Art Deco designs and stacks are trending. Ear jewellery is soaring high. Not just because more people are intent on ‘above-the-torso’ dressing given Zoom expectations. Mixed, asymmetrical cuts in diamond jewellery seem to be a must-try. At the same time, each fashion film in India or abroad and each new fashion and jewellery collection is somehow a reminder of the urgent need to revere slow fashion, to invest in things that last.

I am a focused and diligent customer myself, a great lover of jewellery and a pursuant of style that matches my sense of purpose as a professional and a pro-choice woman. So, when I buy a piece of jewellery (I wear at least one diamond piece every day, mostly a ring and solitaires fitted inside a detachable diamond collar), I make sure it has a backstory. Not just a memoir of sentiment but related to the diamond’s provenance, its origin and sourcing, its habitat so to say. 

At The Voice of Fashion, we base all our trend articles and shopping lists on scientific research and broader ideas of culture and sustainability. Global and local. More than summer and spring, or fall and winter, we try to decode the zeitgeist, the mood of the economy, the need of the hour, global debates on ecology, politics of meaning and current relevance to offer trend interpretation. Trends need to be decoded, simplified, styled and exhibited (including those concerning high value items like diamond jewellery) with the understanding of lasting ideas. Else, fashion will become redundant to the broader dialogue. 

So yes, stacks of chains and bracelets, large, statement earrings, Art Deco designs and asymmetrical, mixed cuts may be “in”. Yet unless we choose our diamonds, gemstones and metals through the matrix of meaning, no trend will make sense. 

A part of my learning how to be a responsible consumer is to make jewellery speak for my convictions. Natural diamonds resonate with my style as an old soldier of few, beautiful things that remind me of stories of my life and loves, trials and triumphs. 

Credits: Shefalee Vasudev