Interview with Scéona, a jewellery brand with conscience
I can’t believe it’s October already! A new month means a new interview and this time we are meeting Scéona and her team, from the eponymous ethical jewellery brand for a very special occasion: the launch of their kickstarter campaign on October 13th!
Could you tell us a little bit more about the minds behind Scéona?
We are a family owned brand. We founded Scéona in 2019 with my husband Baptiste, and his brother Matthieu. Our experience and knowledge is very diverse, complementary. I studied gemology, I hold a diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, and I worked for the jewellery industry the last few years. Baptiste studied humanities in France and Italy before starting a career as a teacher and academic coordinator. He spent his last 6 years working for the French cultural network abroad. Matthieu studied business and worked for the hospitality industry for 8 years before graduating from INSEAD with an MBA last year.
By studying gemmology, I discovered what is hidden behind a stone: beauty, brilliance, the miracle of nature that produces wonders but also the mine. The mine is a huge hole, very deep, tons of land turned over, a tremendous amount of water and energy spent. Moreover, the traditional jewellery industry is well known for being opaque. Finding out where your jewellery comes from and who made it can be very difficult.
I was sure that there was an opportunity to create a jewellery brand with strong values and mission to which people who cares about the planet and its people would related to.
I managed to convince Baptiste and Matthieu that the idea was worth a try.
Scéona was born.
You wrote a very good guide about sustainable jewellery. Why do you think people have such poor knowledge about what’s really going on in the mining industry?
Diamonds have been marketed as a « girl’s best friend » for decades by De Beers. They did a fantastic job in making it very valuable product. Everything was and still is about its beauty and its brilliance, diamonds are sold as a symbol of forever love.
Everything else about diamonds is hidden, especially its production, the mining process.
It has been hidden because it is ugly and people have poor knowledge about what is really going on because it is a very opaque industry: you need to dig a lot to find reliable information, it requires a real effort, a real curiosity.
Diamonds are objects of desire and it can be painful to discover the reality behind it.
But things are changing: wince the Blood Diamonds scandal, people are more and more aware. And as experts, it is definitely our responsibility to make it easy to acquire this knowledge.
One of our commitment is to be a slave free, mining free brand. Because we believe that mines have a disastrous impact on the planet. Fortunately, alternatives to mining exist! That is why we only use 2 materials:
– 18 karats recycled gold: recycled from e-waste (laptop, phones…)
– Lab-grown diamonds: diamonds that are created in a lab.
Our supply chain is very short as we only work with 2 suppliers and 1 workshop. We can thus control it from the beginning to the end. And we also ask for certificates for all the materials we use to craft our jewellery.
As a customer, remember to always ask for the certificate of your diamond or your gold. There are so many false information going on in the jewellery world. Better be safe than sorry
Is it even possible to tell the difference between lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds?
No, it is not. By synthesising a seed of carbon in a reactor, we are now able to grow a diamond in a laboratory. It is exactly the same stone as the mined one. There are no differences.
In July 2018, the US Federal Trade Commission declared that “it is no longer accurate to define diamonds as ‘natural,’ when it is now possible to create products that have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds.”
Cultured diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds, are diamonds without the negative effect of the mine. The sparkle without harming the planet.
How do your designs come to life?
For each piece of our collection, the starting point is the story I want to tell, the feeling I want to: the story of the flow of a river, of the pattern on a leaf, of the texture of a tree.
I play with two materials (gold and lab-grown diamonds) only: with this limitation, comes great creativity: to me, beauty and luxury lies in the details.
The question is always: how can I tell my story through a minimalist piece? I am very much inspired by nature, especially the patterns and textures of nature.
And because we are a sustainable brand, I also have to think about the production side: will this design be doable with our sustainable materials, by our artisans, in our workshop?
It’s not only about the design and beauty of the piece itself.
I also think about our customers: what does she want to wear now? Will she be happy and proud with this pair of earrings?
Each piece is a combination of my inspirations, the feasibility of my design and our customers.
|Credit : Pictures taken by Giulio di Sturco for National Geographi|
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Every new order that comes in is a great reward: the trust and enthusiasm of our customers always makes us super proud.
If making jewellery was easy, everybody would do it. What was the biggest struggle you faced while building the brand?
The biggest challenge was to find the workshop that meets our standards in terms of quality, work conditions and sustainability. Putting in place our very specific processes and making sure everything is maintained was our main concern.
Now that this is done, our current main challenge is to build awareness in a very competitive market.
You launched last year. What is coming next for Scéona?
We are very excited by the launch of our new category of product on Kickstarter. We always wanted to craft necklaces, but we were never able to find a supplier that could ensure that the gold used was 100% recycled. Now we can! We create handmade recycled gold chains, removing the need to use machines and chemicals, the normal process in jewellery.
We also plan to introduce a few new pieces to our collection before the end of this year.
In 2021, we will launch a new collection and maybe open our first shop!
And finally, if you were to give advice to anyone who wants to create their own brand, what would you say?
Go for it! Do not listen to the nay-sayers, listen to your heart and passion. The most important is to start somewhere, to act.
Of course, launching a brand is stressful, scary and it brings a lot of uncertainty. But it is an amazing feeling to wake up every day knowing you can change the world, you can create something new, you do not have to report to anyone, you are free to make your own decision.
Start small, improve along the way and have fun. It is a fantastic adventure!