FASHION The far rarer coloured diamonds from Maison Mazerea have a provenance above that of typical clear diamonds. Charlotte Smith uncovers just what makes them so special
Those familiar with the world of diamonds would have heard about the recent launch of Maison Mazerea, named for the 17th-century art lover and diamond collector, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, one of those credited with the rise of French luxury. Owned by the Western Australian business Burgundy Diamond Mines, the brand is a unique addition to the industry, characterized by its direct ‘discovery to design’ approach. Central to the set-up of the brand was its former CEO Peter Ravenscroft. Integral in combining a multitude of processes, from diamond extraction to design, into one entity, the maison is transforming the diamond industry.
Maison Mazerea is interested in fancy or fantasie diamonds—coloured diamonds that are far rarer and more valuable than clear diamonds. This wasn’t always widely accepted as the case, partly due to the GIA grading system which based diamonds worth on the four Cs—colour, carat, cut and clarity. The industry standard and the D (for diamond) colour reigned supreme. Fancy diamonds were considered as flawed and relatively valueless. Earlier collectors of “colourful” diamonds weren’t appreciated, but over time how precious these jewels are were recognized.
The brand’s holding company Burgundy Diamond Mines was founded in 2020 in Perth, Western Australia. They pay special attention to these fancy diamonds, sourcing them from a number of mines globally before taking charge of cutting and finishing them for wearable pieces. They are renowned for their skill in diamond extraction which led to them taking over the Argyle workshop and gaining its experienced master cutters.
There is a great deal of precision necessary in this specific job. Argyle produced the most pinks and reds ever seen, and these are the very most difficult stones to cut, as they are full of little “knots”. One tiny mistake in the cutting process can explode them into dust.
Burgundy’s desire to have more control over the entire process through vertical integration was what led them to contact Philippe Mihailovich, a leading figure in brand management and architecture and author of the recently published Haute ‘Luxury’ Branding, to ‘assist them in creating a luxury brand for this concept. Jewellery engineer and designer Lorenz Baumer was also involved, thrilled to be able to work directly with a mine and their master cutters Getting these figures on to the project brought the vision of an ultra-luxury diamond brand to life. By owning and controlling all stages in the production line, Maison Mazerea can ensure that all aspects of the process operate at the highest standard.
The rarity and extraordinary beauty of these diamonds mean they should be honoured in the designs, and the brand looks to prioritize the diamonds above all else. What Maison Mazerea is doing is to convince jewellers to never recut their stones to fit a piece of jewellery, but to create a jewel to enhance and complement the cut that the master has chosen. Mihailovich contrasts this to Kim Kardashian’s infamous weight loss to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic ‘Happy Birthday’ dress. ‘One does not change a queen’s morphology to fit a dress. The jeweller–designer must respect the stone as a superstar.’
This has been done with the Grace diamond, an extremely rare pink diamond sourced from the Argyle mines. The diamond honours Princess Grace of Monaco and has been gifted to her foundation. The collaboration came about after a New York marketing agency learned about the Cardinal Mazarin concept and the fact that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is a direct descendant of one of Mazarin’s favourite nieces, Hortense, one of the Mazarinettes, the only one who was entitled to pass childless Mazarin’s name to her husband. The idea is that the stone will be worn in a variety of designs for different events, being used as the focal point which the rest of the piece will work around. Recently, it was christened by Princess Charlene of Monaco on the New York red carpet as part of a necklace named La Vie en Rose, and will, without doubt, be the centrepiece in more outstanding designs.
The utmost respect that the brand shows for the stones is clear, and this is further achieved by them holding themselves accountable through high standards which surpass the commonly used GIA standard. Despite both standards being really important and complementary, examining diamonds under GIA means they do not have to prove an ethical provenance and their criteria do not distinguish between hand-cut and laser-cut. Neither can it give more respect to the master cutter’s talent to achieve a “Vivid Fancy” colour, including ignoring the standard or classical cuts that the whole industry applies to water-white diamonds. The limitations of this widely used system are clear. Most of the world’s mines have too many murky areas such as the diamond-cutting sweatshops in India and cannot provide total ethical and transparent provenance.
Instead, this maison has its own standard—the Appellation Mazerea—which places human and environmental ethics at the forefront. Diamonds are mined from a few, trusted locations and look to give back to the mining communities they are sourced from, attributable to the way the business was set up. Burgundy Diamond Mines were able to start trading before they started mining by simply acquiring key Argyle and CanadaMark diamonds to kick the end-to-end process off. Those ethical mines are free to copy the end-to-end haute diamanterie business model themselves.
Maison Mazerea is conscious about the origins of their diamonds and transparency with the consumer regarding this is prioritized. Each designer–partner is tasked with communicating this advantage themselves. Maison Mazerea has clearly developed processes whereby quality and ethics are never compromised. It is their provenance over the whole journey that both allows this and distinguishes them from previous ways of doing things. A new business model which is synonymous with respect for the environment, the community, and the diamonds themselves. •
Charlotte Smith is a writer for Lucire.
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