Charles & Colvard Ltd.
Charles & Colvard Ltd. (Est. 1995) Charles & Colvard, Ltd., is a publicly traded company that distributes and manufactures jewelry. It was founded in 1995 by Charles Hunter under the name C3 Inc., then run by his brother Jeff Hunter until 2000. The current President and Chief Executive Officer of the company is Suzanne Miglucci.
In 1999, the company changed its name to Charles & Colvard and is based in the area of Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. As the original pioneer of lab-created moissanite, a rare gemstone formed from silicon carbide, the brand produced brilliant, affordable gemstones for discerning customers.
The quest to find a mineral like moissanite began more than a century ago during a search for efficient electrical conductors. The Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Dr. Henri Moissan, discovered moissanite (silicon carbide) in a meteorite crater. He resolved to find a way that science could reproduce this remarkable yet extremely rare rock crystal.
After years of experimentation, researchers from the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina area developed and patented a process for creating pure silicon carbide (SiC) (a long-sought-after breakthrough) that made significant advances possible for the development of diverse products that include semiconductors, LED lighting, and extremely hard drilling tools and abrasives.
With this breakthrough, Charles & Colvard pursued its goal of innovation. With hardness rivaling any mineral on Earth and refractive properties that exceed those of a diamond, moissanite was a brilliant, new type of gemstone that was freed of environmental and ethical issues and capable of redefining the traditional delineations of fine jewelry.
For more than twenty years, the company has been refining and improving its processes to generate better products and develop better techniques for cutting and polishing resulting in enhancing the brilliance of the stone. It was the first company to produce and sell synthetic moissanite under a U.S. patent, first filed by C3 Inc.
Forever One is the company’s premium brand of moissanite that created new standards within the fine jewelry industry. Forever One moissanite is a brilliant creation that is available at a fraction of the cost of comparable diamonds.
Moissanites have become very popular. They are an excellent option when working on a budget. They range from $800-$1,000 per carat compared to diamonds which start at $7,000-$10,000 per carat.
This man made gemstone rates 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. This is just under diamond which is rated at 10, the hardest. It means that moissanite is perfectly suitable for daily wear.
Made to resemble the highest quality diamond, no inclusions are found in moissanites. Most are a colorless DEF equivalent. Every stone is measured in millimeter measurements which are then translated into carat weights. These measurements do not vary, so every 2.10 ct. equivalent oval is 9x7mm, etc. Moissanites also offer more fire than real diamonds. This is the rainbow spectrum color reflected back to the eye.
Until 2015, Charles & Colvard held the patent on moissanite and was the only company able to create and sell it. However, with the patent’s expiration, competitors have emerged like Australian-based Moissanite International and Raleigh-based Moissanite Neo. Each of these companies has its own line of moissanite jewelry that is comparable to Charles & Colvard’s. Harro Gems is another moissanite creator that, like Charles & Colvard, offers the highest quality moissanite in every shape and size.
Charles and Colvard moissanite stones are offered in a variety of standard sizes that cannot be custom cut. Their stones are very consistent in shape and layout. Buyers love Charles and Colvard stones because of how much fire they show. Diamonds also show fire but not quite as much as Charles and Colvard’s creations.
In a May 2017 article in WRAL Techwire, it was reported that earlier that year CEO Miglucci announced a re-designed and re-named web presence that would allow Charles & Colvard to re-direct its marketing efforts so it could, “shed [its] deep discount bargain brand image.”
In the same article, Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, an associate professor of social marketing and strategic communication at UNC-Chapel Hill, agreed with the company’s new focus on Forever One and a movement away from what some critics have called, “fake” diamonds. She pointed out, “Charles & Colvard doesn’t want to be lesser, it wants to be different. A guy doesn’t want to make his girlfriend feel like she wasn’t good enough for a real diamond.
“Consumer demographics … evolve, with retiring and elderly consumers expected to generate the majority of global urban consumption growth by 2030 … with millennials becoming the largest age category US.”
The latter is the market Charles & Colvard hopes to capitalize on. The idea to target a younger audience is also propelled by the push toward ethical products which have become a new trend. From its beginnings, social responsibility has been one of Charles & Colvard’s biggest selling points.
“Our socially responsible and ethically sourced products align directly with the principal and purchasing preferences of the millennials,” says Miglucci.
Although 2017 wasn’t the first time Charles & Colvard made a push toward the luxury market, it was the first time it had a product that met the specifications. In 2017, Charles & Colvard expanded its partnership with Helzberg Diamonds to make its creations available at 54 stores, about 22 percent of that retailer’s locations.
In a May 2018 press release, Charles & Colvard, Ltd. announced the availability of new gemstone offerings and jewelry styles to meet the demands of its growing consumer audience and wholesale customers. These products debuted at JCK Las Vegas, the jewelry industry’s leading trade show, in June 2018.
New featured products included new Forever One gemstone cuts with elongated ovals and cushion hearts & arrows; a new branded line of created moissanite, Moissanite by Charles & Colvard that is both high quality and competitively priced; an expanded fashion jewelry selection for online and retail partners; and personalized jewelry styles.
This expanded assortment provides more trendy styles including stacker rings, earrings, bracelets and personalized necklaces which were previously a small portion of the product catalog. By expanding beyond bridal and fine jewelry, Charles & Colvard believes it can meet the demand of millennial consumers directly and through its trade partners.
To further differentiate its products and provide customers with style options that express individuality, Charles & Colvard introduced personalized jewelry. This assortment gives customers the option to personalize pendants and bracelets with names and initials. All personalized pieces include a bezel set moissanite gem to distinguish them as Charles & Colvard jewelry styles.
Charles & Colvard subsidiary companies and brands include Classic Moissanite, Forever Brilliant, Survivor Collection, Hearts & Arrows, Moissanite.com and Lulu Avenue.