Dale Vince, who is also founder of green energy provider Ecotricity, says his lab-grown diamonds are environmentally friendly because they are made using carbon drawn from the air.
Vince’s new venture, SkyDiamonds, said in a press release it was capable of creating the world’s first “zero impact diamond.”
Synthetic diamonds are nothing new — scientists have been making them since the 1940s in a bid to find cheaper, ethical and environmentally friendly stones.
Dr. Paul Coxon, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s department of materials, told CNN that a diamond was formed by carbon being treated with heat and pressure.
To the untrained eye, he said, a lab-made diamond might look the same as a natural diamond, except that because it was so pure and pristine it could appear almost too brilliant.
“We’ve had synthetic diamonds for a long time, he said. “Chemically they are almost indistinguishable, but they are almost a bit too good [looking].”
Whereas a natural diamond would take “millions and millions of years” to form with “a whole planet squashing down on the carbon,” he said, synthetic diamonds eradicate the need to wait — and the need to have people mine them.
“That’s why synthetic diamonds were such a breakthrough — as you could quick start [the process] and take all the materials, squash it at about 3,000 degrees, and leap forward several millions of years in time,” he added.
But while SkyDiamonds’ manufacturing process is not unique, Vince says the way he manufactures the gems is better for the environment, because the materials and energy used in the process are all sustainable — with carbon from the wind, water from rainwater and energy sourced from solar and wind power.
“Making diamonds from nothing more than the sky, from the air we breathe is a magical, evocative idea — it’s modern alchemy,” Vince said. “It’s industry fit for the 21st century… Our new process puts back air that is cleaner than we take out — we have negative emissions,” he added.
The industry has been working to clean up its image with new standards, but synthetic diamonds are often seen as a way to avoid any doubt.