May 17, 2021 4 min read
Everyone knows this timeless phrase and although these carbon-born crystal structures range from around 1 to 3.5 billion years old—they aren’t actually endless. Only a finite amount of diamonds are actually left on the planet. And after centuries of diamond mining and decades of the diamond industry’s invasive industrialization practices, we here at White/Space, and many in the jewelry industry at large, are looking to more socially and environmentally-responsible sources for these precious gemstones.
Beloved across the world for their fiery brilliance and universal symbolism, diamonds are traditionally mined in Australia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, South Africa and Russia. Not only is the world’s diamond supply dwindling but the public is becoming more conscious and aware of the destructive practices used to mine diamonds. Irresponsible and unregulated diamond mining can cause ecological devastation like soil erosion, deforestation and the forced relocation of local communities. According to the United Nations, “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds,” are “mined in areas controlled by forces opposed to the legitimate, internationally recognized government of a country and that is sold to fund military action against that government.” It’s because of these reasons that people are more interested than ever in learning about eco-friendly diamond options.
The only difference between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond, otherwise known as a “man-made” diamond or a “sustainably created diamond,” is its origin. Grown inside a lab using innovative solar technology that replicates a natural diamond’s growth process, a lab-grown diamond is chemically, physically and optically the same as those grown beneath the Earth’s surface but more ethical, as its origin can be traced, and it essentially lacks a carbon footprint.
While a traditionally mined diamond produces more than 125 pounds of carbon for every single carat, grown diamonds emit just 6 pounds of carbon – a mere 4.8 percent of what mined diamonds produce.
Lab-created diamonds are created in one of two ways, either through High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Through extreme heat and pressure, pure carbon melts and begins to form a diamond around a “starter seed” or a thin slice of diamond, which slowly begins to crystallize into the kind of diamond we know and love today.
As a member of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America (DMIA), Stuller only uses no-conflict, ethically sourced Earth-mined, or “natural” diamonds. Stuller’s no-conflict diamonds comply with the Kimberley Process, which ensures all of their rough diamonds are:
Canadian diamonds play a large role in the world market of traditionally mined diamonds. The cost of a Candian diamond is slightly more expensive than diamonds mined in other countries as they originate from the Canadian Arctic and are guaranteed conflict-free. They are mined using more innovative technology, special machinery and equipment that appeal to the rigorous guidelines of Canadian diamond mines which have some of the world’s highest environmental standards. Canadian diamonds have undergone a certification process that allows these precious gemstones to be tracked from mine to manufacturer, wholesaler to retail consumer.
It’s fair to say that Canadian diamond mining even has a positive impact on surrounding communities, creating jobs and supporting local economies while never compromising the environmental integrity of the surrounding land. Millions of dollars have been generated for governments of all levels, which are then funneled into local infrastructure upgrades, social programs, schools and health care. Tens of millions more dollars are directed towards social investments that flow into local communities to help build recreation facilities, new education and job training opportunities, funding for local sports teams and cultural activities—these significant investments help with poverty-reduction and overall social wellness initiatives.
Recycled or “reclaimed” diamonds are diamonds that were traditionally mined in the past, used in a jewelry setting and finally, repurposed for a new piece of jewelry. Because diamonds are one of the hardest natural materials, they are virtually indestructible—making vintage or recycled diamonds perfect for repurposing in new jewelry. These recycled diamonds are carefully removed from their settings, cleaned, shined to perfection, sometimes recut into new shapes and set into new jewelry. As recycled diamonds are in their second lives, there is not an easy way to tell their origin but they are an excellent way to participate in the Circular Economy, focusing on reusing our precious resources rather than creating more environmental destruction in the process of creating (or mining) anew.
You can also read more here as White Space founder and designer, Khadijah Fulton, speaks to Brides Magazine about sustainable diamond choices.