For years there’s been much controversy within the jewelry industry over the use of lab-grown diamonds. Some old-school jewelers argue that creating a diamond in a laboratory takes away its rarity, and therefore, its value. But younger brands, like Idyl, say that the quality is just as good, and there’s the added bonus that no child labor is involved in the process of creating a piece of high jewelry—which should’ve always been something to consider.
Idyl was founded by siblings Ornella Siso, 26, and Ori Siso, 36, and their good friend Kevin Lewy, 37, in February 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was slowly shutting down every big city in the world. Each piece is handmade in their Antwerp, Belgium, atelier. The city is known for its Diamond Quarter, where a large part of the world’s quality diamonds are cut and sold.
Ori and Kevin each have over 18 years of experience in the diamond industry, and have worked with some of the biggest jewelry houses around the globe, which is why their decision to launch an ethically-sourced diamond company is so telling.
“While the diamond industry has existed for hundreds of years, it is one of few industries that has experienced little to almost no disruption,” Ornella said.
It is also notoriously resistant and old-fashioned, which is why it’s seen little progress in terms of sustainability and ethics, unlike the fashion industry.
When lab-grown diamonds first made their appearance around the 1970s and 1980s, the industry was threatened, since these gems offered an alternative “that is chemically, physically and optically identical to a mined diamond,” the founders explained.
Seeing this, Ori and Kevin decided to turn the threat into opportunity, embracing the lab-grown diamond, “which is a sustainable alternative to a natural diamond,” they said.
Though the idea of spending good money on a one-of-a-kind, mined-from-the-earth diamond is still engrained in the minds of many—thanks to centuries of good advertising—Idyl’s founders believe there’s more value in buying the “right” piece of jewelry than there is in buying a “rare” piece, simply based on the antiquated concept of “status.”
“People don’t understand that this rarity often translates to extracting tons of earth, blood diamonds, child labor and human rights violations,” Ornella said.
Luckily for the designers, today’s younger generations are more critical of the brands they support and tend to shop for items made by companies whose values align with their own.
Idyl’s founders said they’re overjoyed that their luxurious yet wildly wearable pieces are being purchased by young, modern women everywhere, since traditionally, for many reasons, women are hesitant to buy jewelry for themselves.
By making their jewelry affordable, stylish and actually fun and easy to wear—particularly the innovative “modular” pieces that can be used as add-ons to the traditional studs—Ornella, Kevin and Ori have eliminated the intimidation factor that for a long time came with buying diamonds and high jewelry.
“I hated how intimating the experience of buying luxury jewelry was: security guards, waiting lists and huge price tags,” Ornella said. “I knew our generation needed something different.”
And she was right. About 90% of the brand’s audience consists of women, ages 25 to 45, purchasing diamond jewelry for themselves, sometimes for the first time. These are not royals or Hollywood stars—though Jessica Alba, Jamie Chung and Eva Longoria do own some pieces—these are normal, confident, working women who now have a go-to site where they can buy quality diamond earrings and necklaces that fit their lifestyles.
“Women of today are truly versatile; we don’t want one pair of expensive earrings to wear for the next 10 years. We want to change out our pieces, dress them up or down, wear different earrings on each ear and adapt our looks without compromising on quality,” Ornella said.
The founders are currently designing their next collection by getting feedback from their Instagram followers and future customers. Has the diamond world ever seen such down-to-earth innovation?
Ornella, Kevin and Ori like to say that their commitment to transparency and ethical manufacturing in jewelry is “as clear” as their diamonds, and they’re not wrong. That mission comes through in their expertly-crafted pieces, use of “green” traceable gold from conflict-free regions and cool, recyclable packaging—which is also very Instagrammable.
But that’s not the only reason their brand has gotten such a positive response from young women.
Their dedication to making diamond purchasing accessible and exciting is something that customers rarely get to see in such a status-based industry. Idyl, finally, is breaking down those stuffy barriers.