Belinda Craigie speaks with Maïssa Zard, founder of Loyal.e Paris, a new fine-jewellery brand which, through its use of recycled 18-carat gold and lab-grown diamonds, aims to appeal to consumers who seek glamorous yet ethically made products.
What is your professional background?
I have always been inspired by the creative and artistic sphere. I started my career in the luxury industry in Haute Couture, then moved into cosmetics before joining a data intelligence consulting firm specialising in luxury. I discovered lab-grown diamonds through my research, which was the trigger for starting Loyal.e Paris.
What motivated you to move into jewellery and what was the initial thinking behind Loyal.e Paris?
Jewellery has always been my passion. As a kid, I used to wander around jewellery displays and was dazzled by the beauty of diamonds. Sometimes I felt I had to make a compromise between what attracted me and what was in line with my values, and I founded Loyal.e Paris to remove the barrier between self-expression and ethics.
Today, with this new diamond, we have an incredible chance to do things differently. Lab-grown diamonds not only remove the issues associated with mining conditions, but they also use seven times less water and produce 20 times less CO2 than mined diamonds. We use lab-grown diamonds to preserve our planet. Through Loyal.e Paris, I want to bring some freshness into the industry and go beyond established conventions.
Who is your customer and how do you communicate with them?
Our customers vary in age, gender and style. Whether they purchase a Loyal.e creation to celebrate themselves, their love and union, or to express their personalities, what unites them is the strong notion of self-expression and empowerment.
Loyal.e Paris is a purpose-driven brand. This enables us to develop an engaged community. There is a growing demand from consumers for more transparency and accountability in the jewellery industry. We leverage social media to interact with our community and share our values.
For example, we recently launched a mini-series of interviews, Loyal.e Portraits, in collaboration with inspiring artists and engaging personalities. Our first guest is the actor, director and screenwriter, Nicolas Maury, who shares his vision of loyalty and the constant need to challenge existing conventions. Through this mini-series, we aim to spark a conversation and contribute to challenging established conventions.
Beyond that, proximity is essential. Our customer service is tailored to each person. For instance, assisting a couple throughout their journey to find the ideal ring that will symbolise their union.
Why was it important to you to implement considerations such as environmentally responsible materials and packaging into your brand?
Today, having responsible and sustainable practices is not only the new normal, it’s a continuous journey. We owe it first to our planet. There should be no compromise on our impact on the planet and its precious resources. We have a responsibility to craft tomorrow’s industry by driving the change toward a more inclusive and responsible ecosystem.
We also owe it to our customers. We have a duty to ensure transparency and traceability for our clients, which is essential to our relationships and bond of trust. Sustainability will play an increasingly important role in buying decisions. By 2025, sustainability influenced purchases are expected to account for 30 per cent of fine jewellery sales, presenting an opportunity for the industry to learn from its history and make positive change.
Transparency and traceability are at the heart of Loyal.e’s commitments. We exclusively use certified environmentally conscious materials for our gold, diamonds, and even our packaging. Each creation is handmade in Paris and reflects the excellence of our atelier’s craftsmanship and know-how. Each piece is delivered with its unique blockchain certificate for complete traceability.
And, to close the loop, as the mining industry is one of the main causes of deforestation, we have a partnership with the registered non-profit organisation, Planète Urgence. For each piece of jewellery sold, a tree is planted.
In what ways are digital technologies and social media important to your business?
As a digitally native and direct-to-consumer brand, we leverage digital technologies and social media to support our growth. Above all, it’s about being customer-centric. Customer proximity is at the heart of our value proposition and it’s a two-way conversation. We use social networks to build an engaged community and virtual appointments to assist our customers in their purchasing journey. And, of course, digital technology makes it possible to discover the Loyal.e universe before entering our showroom.
What makes Loyal.e Paris unique – what is your differentiator?
Loyal.e Paris embodies an ideal union between ethics and beauty, in the belief that contemporary glamour should never be a compromise. We don’t just offer exceptional luxury products and it’s not only about sustainable practices; Loyal.e Paris is a purpose-driven brand. Our statement pieces reflect what we stand for: women’s empowerment, diversity and love in all its forms, self-expression beyond convention. The impact of the brand goes beyond the jewellery industry.
What’s the motivator for consumers to seek lab-grown diamonds over conventionally mined ones and how do you think this may evolve?
Lab-grown diamonds are receiving considerable attention. They have exactly the same composition and structure, chemical, physical, and optical properties as a mined diamond. And they are now officially certified by globally recognised certification bodies such as IGI (International Gemological Institute) or GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Consumers prefer lab-grown diamonds because they are more environmentally friendly, they avoid issues with mining conditions, and they are 30 per cent less costly than mined diamonds, on average.
Our customers enjoy the traceability of our lab-grown diamonds. Contrary to the widespread practices of the mining industry, our sourcing is direct, with no middlemen involved. This allows us to secure the highest quality diamonds at the best price. The lab-grown diamond jewellery market grew 15 to 20 per cent in 2018 and 2019 (Bain & Company). We believe this trend will continue to accelerate, driven by an increase both in consumer knowledge of lab-grown diamonds and in consumer awareness of sustainability issues.
Why was it important to you to create a brand with gender-free products?
We believe that jewellery should not be aimed at a specific group of people, such as women or men. Rather than being gender-neutral, our creations are feminine and masculine at the same time. They are beyond gender. It is not about erasing or diluting gender. On the contrary, jewellery is a way of asserting your identity. Through our unique creations and inclusive values, we would like to empower people to express their individualities and we believe it’s time the jewellery industry embarked on that journey.
What’s next for Loyal.e Paris?
Amazing new collections are on their way! We are also excited about the opening of our new Parisian showroom while continuing to expand our reach across Europe and internationally.