Swiss watchmaker causes lab-created diamond stir

Breitling SA, a Swiss luxury watchmaker with more than 140 years history, has confirmed plans to exclusively retail products featuring lab-created diamonds by 2024.

By 2025, Breitling will also transition completely to gold sourced from artisanal and small-scale miners that meet criteria set by the Swiss Better Gold Association.

“Consumers are increasingly reflecting on the products they buy and what goes into them,” said Breitling CEO Georges Kern. “We want to give them those answers up-front.”

Breitling recently released its first watch bearing artisanal gold and lab-created diamonds, the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins.

NDC head express disapproval

The announcement was met with criticism from Natural Diamond Council president David Kellie.

Kellie took to social media website Linkedin to air his thoughts on the Breitling announcement, describing it as “unacceptable and intolerable.”

“Breitling, you make great watches and your strategy to use cheaper materials may be great for your bottom line, but you can support the industry and your retail partners by being more honest and ethical in your communication,” Kellie wrote.

“False tropes that are implied about the natural diamond industry [conflict-free diamonds], countering the community benefits provided by natural diamonds with a ‘social impact fund that supports diamond-producing communities’, and using offsets to achieve carbon neutrality, all feels a little cynical.”

Kellie also questioned whether Breitling would be willing to disclose how much revenue is donated to said diamond industry communities, noting that 80 per cent of annual revenue for rough natural diamond companies remains in the countries within which they’re recovered.

More reading
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Major step forward for lab-created diamonds
The Perfect Storm: Lab-created diamond jewellery report
Lightbox selling lab-created diamonds at reduced price


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