Aubree and Soha Javaherian make lab-grown diamonds
Couple launched a diamond jewelry company
It seems fitting that high school sweethearts Aubree and Soha Javaherian — who defied the odds by staying together through four years of college in different cities, tied the knot and shared big dreams of owning their own business together — would launch a diamond jewelry company.
What’s also fitting and quite remarkable about this story is that the name “Javaherian” means “family of jewelers” in Farsi, the official language of Iran. This is actually true, as Soha Javaherian’s grandfather owns a jewelry store in Tehran, Iran’s capital, and the family business — his two uncles work there, too — reaches back seven generations before that, making Soha Diamond Co. a 10th-generation jewelry venture.
But wait, there’s more.
Soha Diamond Co. specializes in laboratory-grown diamonds, which are 100 percent authenticated, true-blue diamonds that make up only 1 percent of the industry and are sold at a fraction of the price of their mined counterparts.
Honestly, I had no idea there was such a thing as a man-made diamond until I sat down with the couple in their classy and comfortable design studio at StartingBlock, the new entrepreneurial hub for startups.
Launched in September 2017, Soha is a hybrid e-commerce and in-person, by-appointment-only retailer. Online customers from outside Madison make up about 50 percent of their sales.
So how is it that lab-grown diamonds are, as Soha Javaherian puts it, “chemically, physically and optically identical” to mined diamonds? Grown diamonds contain the same ingredient as natural ones: carbon, crystallized by pressure and temperature. Natural diamonds take a billion or more years to crystallize; grown diamonds take months. While the laboratory technique was invented by General Electric in the 1950s, only recently have the manufactured versions become gem quality.
Javaherian found his way to grading and selling these unconventional diamonds in a very conventional way. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and working in sales and marketing, he received a scholarship to attend the Gemology Institute of America, or GIA, considered the standard-bearer for jewelry grading and certification internationally. After graduating with the highest accreditation, working for Tiffany & Co. and then returning to GIA as a professional gemologist, he began to see an exciting, untapped opportunity.
“No one could justify exactly why lab-grown diamonds weren’t a bigger part of the industry,” he says. “All the post-production is identical – he cutting, the planing, the polishing, the grading – the labor-intensive nature of diamonds still holds true for both mined or lab diamonds.”
Not only did the Javaherians see a promising niche in the marketplace, the millennial couple understood their generation’s desire to be socially conscious consumers. Man-made diamonds are conflict-free – thus averting a complicated and controversial stain on the industry. The company also uses 100 percent recycled precious metals for the settings and plants one tree for every gemstone order (through the nonprofit One Tree Planted) to offset its carbon footprint.
“We’re a different type of jeweler for a different type of consumer for a different type of diamond,” says Javaherian.
“It’s not an alternative. It’s not a substitute. It’s just from somewhere else. It’s truly, in every way, a diamond.”
Javaherian is as dogged about the likenesses between natural and man-made diamonds as he is about differentiating his products from cubic zirconia and other artificial alternatives. Each purchase is accompanied by a certified report using the universal grading system of the “4Cs” – color, cut, clarity and carat – that was developed by GIA in the 1950s.
“These are the things that holistically give you the value of a diamond based on desirability, marketability and overall quality,” he says. “The report fully discloses that it’s a laboratory-grown diamond. Just like a mined diamond, all the attributes are indicated in the serial number, dimensions, carat weight, color, clarity, symmetry, polish and cut.”
As for the future and growth of Soha, “Our goal is to become the Tiffany & Co. of lab-grown diamonds,” he says. “I mean truly world-class quality, world-class customer service.”
Aubree Javaherian, who custom designs each ring and delights in building authentic relationships with Soha’s clients, echoes her co-founder’s sentiments.
“I’d love to do this forever,” she says.
Brennan Nardi is a former editor of Madison Magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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