Island jeweler Lee Havens recently agreed to become one of the first high-end American designers to create fine pieces using cultured diamonds.
Havens is excited by the prospect of using colored stones produced by Sarasota-based Gemesis for his designs, though he certainly is not about to abandon what he calls “traditional” diamonds â€” what might be referred to as “mined” or “natural” stones.
Cultured diamonds, made by a process developed in Russia that mimics the natural development of diamonds, has been on Havens’ radar for 10 years, but he said the quality of the Gemesis stones is what sold him on taking them on in his studio and store, 235 Worth Ave. He has yet to design a piece using the colored stones, which he said can be made in weights up to 4 carats with excellent results, but is featuring several pieces provided to him by Gemesis.
Among them is a $500,000 fancy vivid yellow cultured diamond necklace, set in platinum featuring 72 stones and weighing a total of 64 carats, which is being sold to benefit The Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR). Several ear clips, rings and pendants set with the cultured stones, which are priced from $20,000 to $40,000, will also be sold for benefit. Ten percent of sale proceeds will go to the charity.
The price of the Gemesis cultured diamond jewelry is approximately 30 percent of a “traditional” colored diamond piece.
“But they are diamonds,” said the jeweler, explaining that they are graded the same way “natural” diamonds are by the Gemological Institute of America.
Havens, known for his experiments with new materials in his fine jewelry designs during his 25 years on the island, said he finds the cultured diamonds’ environmentally friendly and conflict-free nature appealing.