Diamonds may be beautiful, but the industry behind it is not.
To start with, there are the terrible environmental consequences that come with mining for diamonds. The Guardian reports that to get just one carat (0.2 grams) of a traditional diamond, miners could excavate up to 2.2 million pounds of rock, use 1,028 gallons of water, and emit 238 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Then there’s the disturbing human aspect of the diamond industry, in which diamonds play a critical role in funding conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa.
In an attempt to clean up the diamond industry, British clean energy company Ecotricity is creating actual diamonds using nothing but atmospheric CO2 and rainwater. The process involves taking carbon out of the atmosphere and producing methane — a crucial ingredient in synthesizing diamonds. Then, they source hydrogen molecules out of rainwater and power the whole operation with wind and solar energy. The result is a diamond that is identical to one pulled out of the ground.
According to Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, the company is already capable of making about 200 carats of diamond every month. “Making diamonds from nothing more than the sky, from the air we breathe — is a magical, evocative idea — it’s modern alchemy,” Vince told The Guardian. “We don’t need to mine the earth to have diamonds, we can mine the sky.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about an initiative from Vince. Back in 2019, we introduced our readers to the first carbon-neutral professional sports team in the world, Forest Green Rovers, a British football club owned by Vince. The club, which only serves vegan food, is also set to become the first team with a stadium made entirely out of timber.