Business

13 September 2018

Bruno Zarcate, Burma and synthetic stones

The increasing prevalence of synthetic stones in jewelry is much debated, and even polemical. As Burma is a pioneering company in this field, I met and talked to its CEO, Bruno Zarcate.

 

Synthetic stones have been your preferred material for a long while now…  

When my grandfather took over Burma in 1956, the company specialized in cultured pearls and rhinestones. In the 1970s, we began to replace the latter with synthetic gems. They have the same chemical properties as natural stones, and it’s impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye! And of course, they are less expensive, even if the carat of a fine cultured emerald can go up to $100, compared with at least $3,500.

 

You registered the term Burmalite™ in 1976: what does it cover, precisely?

It’s a brand designating all our stones, from zirconium oxide, which imitates the diamond, to cultured corundums (i.e. sapphires, rubies and emeralds). Some of them are stunningly beautiful, like this 60-carat blue sapphire, which my daughter Alexandra Zarcate (who recently took over as artistic director) has decided to combine with natural diamonds.

 

Your unique positioning might seem a little hard to grasp…

For a long time, people associated Burma with fake jewelry, because of our synthetic gems. But are cultured pearls regarded as fake? We have a niche; we stand out because of a rather crazy category of stones that we combine with an “haute joaillerie” approach: top-quality, one-of-a-kind pieces produced in Paris workshops using traditional techniques like lost wax casting.

 

People are talking a lot about cultured diamonds, which will probably help to demystify these synthetic stones… In fact, why shouldn’t they be used?

One day we will use them, but for the moment they cost a lot: 40% of natural diamond prices. In the long run, I think this should come down to only 10%, and then they will be positioned as they should be, i.e. a product associated with fancy jewelry. Another reason synthetic diamonds don’t feature in our collections is that as yet there are no large 10 carat stones – the sort Burma likes!

 

In your advertisements between the Thirties and Fifties, women had a lot of humor. What type of women wear your jewelry today?

The ones who like a mixture of jewelry made with natural and synthetic gems. They see the former as an investment, while they can take the latter on their travels without worrying. Our jewelry also enables them to change more often. These women never hesitate between the two: they don’t fantasize beyond their means, but feel they can treat themselves to the odd emerald. Julie Gayet, who wore Burma jewelry at the Cannes Festival in 2011, was one of the first to appreciate its ecological and ethical benefits.

 

Related articles:

De Beers, synthetic diamonds vs natural

20

Most popular articles

Kazumi Arikawa gives 3 exceptional jewels to the Met

As the main sponsor of the exhibition “The Body Transformed”, Kazumi Arikawa, president of Albion Art, donated 3 European jewels from the second half of the...

With Mené, Roy Sebag combines jewelry with investment  

With Mene, Canadian entrepreneur Roy Sebag deals in pure gold and platinum pieces. Because in the long term, he believes these precious metals are...

Everything you need to know about Tasaki

Tasaki is the most talked-about jeweler in Japan. Now expanding worldwide, he is opening one store in Great-Britain and one in Paris, where he is also...

Malika Benshila Hutin, founder of the Pink Heater agency

For the launch of its shop, TFJP is offering a selection of designer jewellery in partnership with the Pink Heater pop-up store (26-30 September 2018). Pink...

Jean-Marc Lieberherr and the Diamond Producers Association

Consumers are decidedly losing their passion for the diamond. To revive them, Jean-Marc Lieberherr launched the Diamond Producers Association.

Gems and stones: 5 sources of well-being

The trend : revive ancestral rituals, some involving the influence of stones (lithotherapy) and various gems on our well-being. For this to work, the most...