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Lark & Berry: The diamond disruptors

By Ioannis Ioannou, Nick Mickshik


Laura Chavez was delighted beyond words when the Atelier Asymmetric Bow suite, designed by her luxury jewellery company Lark & Berry, won the 2019 Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Graff jewellery award. The Graff Award was the jewellery industry’s equivalent of the Oscars award for Best Picture and conferred immense prestige on its maker. Unfortunately, the euphoria of the win lasted barely 24 hours for Laura. The award had made history: it was the first time that a piece made exclusively with lab-grown diamonds had scooped the top Craft and Design Council prize. But, when the awards committee realised the suite had been made with lab diamonds, they insisted that Lark & Berry disassociate themselves from the prize – even though they had designed and commissioned the piece.

Laura saw the episode as emblematic of the fear and defensiveness with which the established mined-diamonds industry responded to the advent of LGDs, suspecting that the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council felt cheated because its representatives didn’t realise the Lark & Berry suite was made of cultured gems. To her, this blew a hole in the argument that lab-grown gems were not “real” diamonds. For the small, London-based luxury jewellery store, which had not been open for a year, it was an early foretaste of the battle that lay ahead in its attempt to establish lab-grown diamonds as, well… diamonds.

Learning objectives

  1. Identify opportunities for ethical innovation by analysing sustainability gaps and issues in traditional industries
  2. Evaluate the leadership capabilities required to drive responsible industry transformation in the face of opposition.
  3. Understand industry dynamics between established and emerging players, and identify best practices for incumbents to respond to disruptive threats.
  4. Analyse growth strategy dilemmas and trade-offs faced by mission-driven sustainable ventures.
  5. Formulate integrative sustainable business strategies that align profitability with ethical practices across sourcing, production, branding and other activities.


Publication Date: November 2023
LBS Case Code: CS-23-020
Subjects: , , , , , ,
Industry: ,
Geography: ,
Pages: 41
Format: pdf