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Kiwi designer Ella Drake launches ethical aboveground diamond collection

18 May 2018

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Meet Ella Drake, the New Zealand-born former face of Gucci and founder and managing director of Monarc Jewellery; the brand bringing the first eco-conscious aboveground diamonds to the NZ market.

Fashion Quarterly features writer Phoebe Watt checked in with Ella in early 2017, one year into the brand’s inception. Citing sustainable and ethical practices being of great importance, particularly when creating bespoke designs for her clients, Ella made it clear she is not willing to cut any corners.

“I won’t compromise social and environmental justices for the sake of extraordinary jewellery. It’s important to me that all of my jewellery goes into the world with a clean conscience,” she told us.

Fast forward 12 months, and Ella’s stringent methods have continued. Ensuring she know the origins of the materials she uses and utilising particular manufacturing techniques have both seen her successfully launch Monarc’s Aboveground Commitment collection – the first launch of aboveground diamonds in the New Zealand market.

Aboveground diamonds are atomically identical to mined diamonds; the stones grow through the same processes that occur in the earth’s layers, but unlike mined diamonds, they do not compromise social and environmental justices.

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In contrast to mined diamonds – which can pass through many different hands before reaching the market without guarantee of provenance or supply chain transparency – aboveground diamonds come directly out of a foundry in California possessing zero carbon footprint and are formed through harnessing solar power.

Similar to mined diamonds, aboveground diamonds are all unique, bearing its own natural characteristics and inclusions. GIA gemologists assess and grade each diamond stone like they would a mined diamond, and a certificate is issued adhering to the strictest diamond industry standards.

“From the outset, we wanted to create an engagement and wedding ring offering that is more in line with the core values of love and marriage,” says Ella. “Monarc’s Aboveground Commitment collection brings sustainability and transparency to jewellery that signifies one of the most important moments in our lives. I want to rule out any possibility that someone’s lifelong symbol of love for another person could carry with it exploitation and suffering.”

Fortunately for Ella, the Monarc customer has had a discerning eye since the brand’s inception. “It’s important to impart to the consumer that they are getting the exact same product when they buy an aboveground diamond. The difference is not in the materials, only in the environment in which it’s grown.”

And for her part, Ella isn’t in the business of creating ‘just’ jewellery — her pieces are personalised heirlooms. “Jewellery acts as a transferable token, passing memories from generation to generation,” she says. “I recognise and appreciate that, which is why I create well-designed items to be treasured over time.”

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