October this year brought some interesting news when the company Breitling declared that over the next few years that will be making the change and using lab-grown diamonds and artisanally, ethically sourced gold in all of their watches!
Along with the release of their new Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins watch, the company made this announcement and this is their first watch to feature lab-grown diamonds.
They have stated that by 2024 they will have moved away from their current use of mined diamonds only in the Chronomat line (one of ten lines in the Breitling range) and make the switch to lab-grown diamonds.
Another change for this range is that the watches will feature traceable gold. This means that all gold used in the watches will be sourced from a small-scale (ASM) mine meeting all the criteria stated by the Swiss Better Gold Association aimed at improving the living and working conditions of mining communities.
Breitling’s goal is to work towards having all gold used in their designs being traceable to specific artisanal mines by 2025.
The lab-grown diamonds they are using have been “certified sustainably rated” by SCS Global Services.
This move towards the use of lab-grown diamonds and artisanal gold are for improving social and global impact and they will also be making contributions towards a “social impact fund that supports diamond-producing communities.”
Breitling has been previously known for their general opacity or vagueness of their source of diamonds and gold and are now making the effort to have fully traceable diamonds and gold in their portfolio.
“Until now, there have been limits on how far you could trace precious materials,” a statement said “Even when following industry best practices, tracking gold and the small ‘melee’ diamonds used in watchmaking to their origins had been nearly impossible. By default, these raw materials tend to be combined from many different sources—meaning their provenance literally gets lost in the mix.”
They are restructuring so that the entire custody chain for each diamond and piece of gold will be verified independently and recorded in a blockchain-backed non-fungible token (NFT) that will come with every Chronomat Origins.
This method of using trackable ASM gold is considered by many sustainability experts as even better than using recycled gold! As recycled gold sources are often messy, obscured and can be problematic.
Christina Miller, a longtime advocate for sustainability and a sustainability consultant says that this move on Breitlings part gives her hope. She says that even though for now this isn’t applying to all of their watch ranges, she is happy that they are making the move towards removing the myth that creating products using known provenance needs to be “all or nothing” and starting on this one range is a step in the right direction.
While Miller is happy with the moves made by Breitling she did also mention that she doesn’t like the term “conflict free” being used for lab-grown diamonds as there are many communities that are still dependant on mined diamonds and the diamond industry has a responsibility towards those communities too.
Sustainability goals are not the only reason Breitling is making the switch to lab-grown diamonds. Another reason includes the lower price and the ability to add move diamonds into their watch designs and to have additional funds to support associated communities.
It has been said by a diamond dealer that this new era of lab-grown diamonds has made it more difficult to sell diamonds to watch companies as the cost of testing small parcels of products can be higher than the profit he would make!
So it looks to us like there is a whole new world opening up for lab-grown, sustainable diamonds! And we are very excited about it!