When it comes to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles, New York City–based Smiling Rocks ticks all the boxes.
The lab-grown diamond jewelry company donates 3% of purchases to a buyer’s charity of choice (from a selection at checkout that includes the First Responders Children’s Foundation, Trees tor the Future, Smile Network International, and Space for Giants). It’s a member of Positive Luxury, whose Butterfly Mark denotes brands that have a positive effect on society and the environment. And the company has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Now, Smiling Rocks, founded in 2019, is aiming to make a mark among style-setters with a range of new collections designed to appeal to luxury consumers.
“Our goal is to provide a brand which can be trusted, which can be audited, which can be transparent, and which serves the luxury segment,” cofounder and CEO Zulu Ghevriya tells JCK. Below, he talks us through Smiling Rocks’ 2023 novelties, a new haute couture line of elaborate animal-inspired brooches debuting at JCK Las Vegas, and what he hopes retailers will remember about the brand.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is Smiling Rocks’ product focus?
When we launched, we had a fashion line and a basics line, and then in our second year we launched bridal. Bridal was our biggest hit in 2021 and ’22. In those years, more than 70% of our business was bridal. Now we offer everything from the basics to high fashion to an haute couture line. We have pieces costing from $499 to $300,000.
The haute couture line includes an elaborate peacock brooch—tell us about it.
I wanted to show the range of colors possible in lab-grown diamonds. We see blue, green, yellow—all are lab-grown diamonds. That’s the beauty of lab-grown. We have a panther on the way, a snake on the way, a crocodile on the way. All will be collectible one-of-a-kind pieces. We are working on registering the collectibles. The whole idea is we want to create a community that owns Smiling Rocks’ high-end pieces.
The Frame collection is a little more accessible. What’s that all about?
The idea of the Frame collection is you’re framing an art piece where you see only diamonds in the center. We have made it in round and emerald shapes with a center stone of 1 to 2 carats. It’s daily wear with solid value and amazing styling.
I test-launched it at Centurion; the full collection will launch at JCK with many different shapes, including pears and opals. The Frame pieces retail from $1,999 to $5,000 in 14k yellow gold.
And the Sparkle Bangle collection?
Bangles have now become daily accessories. We are inspired by this rising trend. We made the whole collection as a Sparkle bangle. And sparkle is a part of our logo, our identity. It will be introduced at JCK.
Where are all the diamonds produced?
Smiling Rocks is a grower. We have our growing facilities in India, and our manufacturing facilities in Hong Kong and China. The most important part is we are a member of Positive Luxury. Consumers can scan our ESG framework, check where we are standing on our ESG journey, and where we are lacking. They can look at our claims, and our journey to reach our goals. We are targeting going carbon neutral in every respect by 2030.
Does your commitment to sustainability make a difference to end-customers?
To be very honest, it’s not a selling point for any retailer today. But we see it as a responsibility. The new generation will ask a lot of questions. They are well aware about evaluations. Sooner or later, retailers will ask questions. That’s why we see lab-grown diamonds are getting popular. Despite what the industry is thinking, consumers are the ones telling everyone “I need this product.” The consumer is thinking this is a luxury substitute. I believe in a few years this will be the biggest selling point for any retailer.
How do you counter concerns among retailers about the volatility in lab-grown prices?
We give 100% guaranteed returns. If retailers return pieces, we credit them. The dust is starting to settle. The best part is consumers are taking lab-grown at any price. Retailers are still happy because our customers are buying. The industry is still comparing with the Rapaport price list but maybe they’ll start selling with a different segment.
What’s the overall message you want buyers to take away about Smiling Rocks?
We see ourselves as a one-stop solution for retailers. We are very strong in bridal categories; our selection is huge. Plus, retailers who are traditionally only selling classic lines, now we are offering them some fashion lines. I find them asking for more assortment, and more daily fashion wear. That’s where I see a great opportunity for Smiling Rocks.
Top: Peacock brooch in 14k yellow gold with 3 cts. t.w. blue, green, and white lab-grown diamonds, including 0.35 ct. blue pear-shape stone, $8,899Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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