In Collaboration With BIRON®

When lab-grown diamonds were first introduced in the mid-1900s by researchers in Stockholm, the synthetic diamonds were reserved for industrial use. Today, diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates that global sales of lab-grown diamonds grew 40% in 2021 alone.

Man-made gems such as lab-created diamonds are up to 10 times cheaper than natural fancy colour gems, according to a Global Diamond Report commissioned by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

Growing demand for eco-friendly gemstones

In 2022, leading fashion jewellery houses like Pandora have added more created gemstones to their repertoire, further pushing against the stigma associated with man-made gems. As the terms ‘imitation’ and ‘synthetic’ phase out, interest grows among price-conscious and ESG-conscious millennials.

synthetic emerald jewellery and alexandrite cut gemstones
Created emeralds, diamonds, and alexandrite (© BIRON®)

Precious stones from luxury brands are out of reach for ~95% of consumers. Lab-grown gemstones take less energy, and cleaner energy to produce than mined gems. On top of this, they are:

  • less brittle (due to fewer inclusions/fractures produced in a lab environment);
  • less susceptible to cracks;
  • more affordable;
  • in limitless supply;
  • have strong quality control;
  • customizable.

The birth of BIRON®

Mr. Louis Lo, a gemstone specialist trading in gemstones was asked in 2012 by a client, a brand that uses lab-grown gemstones in its products, to source good quality created emeralds. This turned out to be very difficult as suppliers of lab-grown emeralds were providing stones of very diverse qualities. Mr. Lo therefore decided to develop his own proprietary technology, enlisting the help of geologist and chemist Artur Birkner. (The trademark’s name comes from combining part of his collaborator’s surname and the end of the word ‘hexagon’, which is the shape of emeralds’ crystal structure.)

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Biron Gems founder, Louis Lo, using a light to look at a lab grown emerald
Founder of BIRON® Mr. Louis Lo inspects a created emerald (© BIRON®)

Together, the duo built on the hydrothermal process, one of the processes used to make lab-created gems, and developed a formula that enabled the production of lab-grown emerald, which is now the signature product under the BIRON® trademark. Their labs still use this process today to create their signature BIRON® emerald, which is nearly indistinguishable from the most sought-after emeralds in the world: Colombian green emeralds.

They now work with over 500 clients around the world, providing sustainably grown gemstones to world-class jewellers and luxury retail brands.

About BIRON® ethical gemstones

artificial emerald and ruby from biron gems
Cultivated emerald and ruby, two of the four most sought-after gemstones in the world  (© BIRON®)

The BIRON® trademark now covers seven varieties of beautiful, limpid (that is, watery and transparent) lab-made coloured gemstones: emeralds, rubies, blue sapphires, padparadschas, alexandrite, diamond, and opal.

The two main technologies/methods used to produce synthetic gemstones are:

  • High pressure and high temperature (HPHT)
  • Chemical vapour deposition (CVD)

HPHT uses intense pressure and temperature to imitate deep-earth conditions, while CVD vaporizes molecules that attach to a gemstone seed, occurring at a lower pressure and temperature. The first method results in a created gemstone in (length of time) while the second method takes two to four weeks.

What sets gems covered by the BIRON® mark apart

Man-made gemstones covered by the BIRON® combines the unique qualities of minimal colour variance, consistent gem vibrancy, and in-house stone cutting by expert craftsmen. What’s more, their created stones can be grown with inclusions to more closely resemble natural stones. The ethical gem provider creates its own created stones and also sources them from responsible sources worldwide, offering expert advice for fine jewellery setting.

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Header image credits: SunChan via Canva

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Born in Canada, Danielle is deep diving into the things that make Hong Kong a city of intermingling identities, and bridging the information gap as someone trying to navigate the city herself as a cultural inbetweener. Sometimes this means examining culture and local people’s stories, and other times it means drinking all the milk tea and doing walking explorations of peripheral districts.

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