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EXCLUSIVE: Fred Premieres High Jewelry Set Featuring Blue Lab-grown Diamonds

Using lab-grown stones alongside natural diamonds was “a creative solution for a dream,” said CEO Charles Leung.

Five fancy vivid greenish-blue lab-grown diamonds have been created, including an 8.88-carat stone.COURTESY OF FRED.

PARIS — The reason the center stones of the four-piece high jewelry set unveiled Tuesday by Parisian house Fred are poised to make a splash isn’t their hue.

It’s because these fancy vivid greenish-blue diamonds are lab-grown.

Collectively dubbed “Fred Audacious Blue” and VS1 in clarity, four 0.5-carat gems in the Force 10 Duality set, and an 8.88-carat diamond, presented loose, have been cut in the French brand’s proprietary 36-facet Hero cut.

The idea behind these GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds was to “have a creative solution for a dream,” said chief executive officer Charles Leung.

In this case, it was at once offering a blue diamond set, “the wildest dream” of collectors, and finding the perfect diamond hue that would “capture the color of the sea” dear to the brand, he explained.

The inspiration was, of course, founder Fred Samuel, according to Leung. “[Samuel] was daring, he was not afraid of technology — but he wanted good quality for sure,” he said. “What is interesting about this set is the mix — we like nature but we also embrace technology.”

Although the executive demurred on naming the partners involved in the project, Leung said the stones had taken “several years of research and 18 months of development,” working with European and American experts to produce these diamonds using chemical vapor deposition technology, or CVD.

The Force 10 Duality set comprises a tie necklace, a bracelet, a ring and a single earring.COURTESY OF FRED

The founder made a name for himself in cultured pearls, and don’t expect to see more lab-grown diamonds appearing in Fred’s collections, high jewelry or otherwise, any time soon. “This set is not a big change in strategy,” Leung said.

Without discounting the possibility of client-driven requests, he said more lab-grown gemstones would only be used in high jewelry “if it makes sense to Fred but most of the time, I think we will stay with natural [diamonds].”

While the lab-grown route offered a modicum of certainty — and a more palatable price tag than the $4 million per carat of natural blue diamonds — it’s “not like you can press a button and that blue will come out,” reminded Leung. “We asked for technology to help us and it’s not that easy either.”

Prices start at 50,000 euros for a single earring featuring a 0.5 carat lab-grown diamond and 31 diamonds totaling 1.81 carats, and go up to 240,000 euros for the transformable tie necklace featuring another blue lab-grown diamond and 14.72 carats’ worth of natural F+, VVS+ diamonds. All designs are finished with a 0.2-carat sapphire accent.

The whole set, which also includes a bracelet with an interchangeable band and a ring, comes out at a total of 540,000 euros – on par with the price if Fred had used white natural diamonds as center stones, according to Leung.

As for the loose diamond, the executive declined to give it a price tag, saying its value would “not be just that stone but the combination [with] the design of the house, the craftsmanship of a Parisian workshop.”

Plus, there’s being the first to use lab-grown diamonds in high jewelery, he added after a beat, especially since the move could be controversial as Place Vendôme executives remain skeptical on the subject.

The Parisian jeweler is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has taken a minority stake in Lusix, an Israel-based producer of lab-grown diamonds through its investment arm LVMH Luxury Ventures. Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer, also owned by the French luxury conglomerate, was the first to use lab-grown diamonds, white and later pink, for its high-end timepieces.

Artistic director and vice president Valérie Samuel expressed deep satisfaction at these “hypnotic” stones and the intense blue that captured “the vibration of the sea” with a shine “only a diamond could offer.”

Style-wise, she nodded to the opposites such as the first-ever steel-and-gold Force 10 bracelet; the new set plays on asymmetry and pairs strands of brilliant- and princess-cut white diamonds.

The Force 10 Duality necklace is transformable.COURTESY OF FRED.

“We would have never been able to do a high jewelry set with natural blue diamonds, hence our approach of calling on innovation, which is part of the pioneer DNA transmitted by Fred Samuel,” she continued. “With this set, we have the best of nature and the best of technology.”

While the 8.88-carat diamond was presented loose as a testament to the “technical prowess” of its hue and comes with an initial drop necklace proposal, the artistic director would prefer to “co-create with our client and give free rein to their creativity in an exchange.”

She also sees the set and any subsequent design as unisex. “In our creative process, we think of men as well as women, in a gender-fluid approach, even more so when talking of the Hero cut or the Force 10 [line],” she said. “So this stone could be used for a necklace, a cuff, a ring — the possibilities are endless.”

The set and the stone will be showcased by appointment at the Parisian jeweler’s Rue de la Paix flagship before starting a trunk show tour in Seoul in November.


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