Mona Akhavi of Vrai tells us why lab-grown diamonds are the sustainable choice

Kendall Jenner is a fan as is Jamie Dornan, Gwen Stefani and Justin Bieber. Mona Akhavi is the CEO of lab-grown diamond brand Vrai. The brand is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio

Lab-grown diamonds have become more and more prevalent in the jewellery world over the past year, it seems. But for Mona Akhavi, entrepreneur, engineer, start-up founder and now CEO of the lab-grown diamond brand Vrai, they have been a part of her life since 2019, at least, when she took on her CEO role.

Vrai engagement rings
Engagement rings are popular for Vrai

Proposed benefits of lab-grown diamonds include zero emissions and zero mining, plus clear provenance. They are deemed a sustainable alternative.

“Lab-grown are identical to mined diamonds and share the same optical, physical and chemical properties – the only difference is a lab-grown diamonds guaranteed origin,” explains Akhavi. “The debate between mined and lab-grown diamonds stems from a lack of understanding surrounding the lab-grown diamond creation process and misleading advertising claims. With the increase in demand for sustainable jewellery options and growth of the lab-grown diamond industry however, consumer education has progressed significantly.” 

Vrai engagement rings
Designs by Vrai

She continues: “One thing to note is that lab-grown production can be energy intensive, but Vrai sustainably-created diamonds are created in their zero-emission foundry powered by renewable energy without the negative environmental and human toll of mining.”

Vrai, whose parent company is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, was established in 2014 in Los Angeles and has recently been doing the round on the red carpets. Jamie Dornan for a start, while celebrity names like Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber, and Jennifer Lopez are also reportedly fans. Kendall Jenner wore a bracelet as part of an ensemble to The Met last year.

Vrai engagement rings
Engagement rings by Vrai

For Vrai, engagement rings have always been a strong part of the business: there was an Amanda Hearst collaboration, plus the Style Me Pretty collection. New engagement ring styles and wedding bands are constantly being added – and the brand is experiencing an increase in bridal collections due to its customers wearing them in different ways. Wedding bands worn everyday and stacked, for example. They can also come at a more affordable price point.

“We are finding that consumers today are more knowledgeable and selective about their purchases than ever before,” says Akhavi. “Our customers are selecting brands that are more thoughtful and have less of an impact on the environment, and in turn, themselves and others. They appreciate our refined designs, craftsmanship and like to feel good about what they are wearing without compromising quality.”

Vrai engagement rings
Lab-grown diamond rings by Vrai

She observes that perceptions around lab-grown diamonds have changed rapidly over the past several years “as Millennial and Gen-Z consumers continue to increase their spending power and prioritise sustainability in their spending habits.” She shares that in a MVI Marketing study, 70 per cent of Millennials were reportedly moving away from conventional diamonds, with nearly 70 per cent considering buying a lab-grown alternative.

“We offer unique shapes like Keystone, Half Moon, Hexagon, Long Hexagon and Lozenge, in addition to traditional shapes like Round Brilliant, Emerald and Ovals,” says Akhavi. “This way clients can really find a modern and timeless piece that fits their style or to add to the diamond shapes they already have.”

See our pick of the best alternative engagement rings of 2022

Meet lab-grown diamond brand Matilde Jewellery

Read about Alex Eagle’s lab-grown diamond collaboration

The latest collection from lab-grown diamond brand Lark & Berry