One of the reasons consumers often decide to buy lab-grown diamond jewelry is to avoid buying a mined product, for social or environmental reasons. Mined diamonds, for example, have fueled dangerous civil wars. Metals like tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold (used in electronics and jewelry) have fueled a deadly conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo region, where they are mined.
And there’s no question that both large- and small-scale mining can have environmental effects, from carbon emissions, to habitat loss, and ecosystem damage.
What we need to acknowledge first, however, is the inevitability of mining. Almost every product we purchase and use contains elements that had to be mined somewhere – and there are lots of issues around all kinds of mining, especially in the developing world. But responsible consumers in the 21st century have found ways to reduce their dependence on many mined products.
Mostly, we “reduce, reuse, and recycle” whenever possible. Jewelry products like diamonds and gold, for example, are endlessly reusable and recyclable. Happily, the jewelry industry has begun to track its recycled metals, which allows AIDIA to use recycled gold in our Signature Collection. And many consumers who inherit diamonds also reuse them in new engagement rings.
A responsible purchaser with no access to family diamond jewelry can buy lab-grown diamond jewelry, too. You still get to enjoy all the glitter and sparkle of diamonds. And you also get the story of the extremely cool technology that’s used to create lab-grown gems.
But while buying lab-grown diamond jewelry can help you avoid mined diamonds, can you also state confidently to your friends and family that lab-grown products are better for the environment than mined ones? After all, diamond growing facilities use energy, too, in the growing process. Doesn’t that still lead to carbon dioxide emissions and an increased carbon footprint?
Well, that’s a valid point, but one of the comparisons I found, was a study conducted by Stanford University graduate student Andy Martin, who found the carbon footprint of a one-carat lab-grown diamond was far less than that of a comparable mined diamond. And that’s good news.
Using statistics from the Ekati diamond mine in Canada, Martin compared its carbon emissions with that of a lab-grown diamond facility. Martin calculated that a one-carat diamond created in a lab was responsible for only one-fifth the carbon emissions as a similar diamond mined at Ekati.
You can read Andy Martin’s article here: https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=30353
While most large-scale diamond mines must now operate under responsible environmental stewardship guidelines, they can’t avoid making all carbon emissions in operations.
But as stated above, carbon footprint is only one concerning element. Both large and small-scale mining – especially in developing nations where environmental protections aren’t enforced –trigger massive habitat loss and ecosystem damage. It is worthwhile mentioning that in order to mine a one carat rough diamond one needs to dig out over 100 tons (!) of dirt. I bet you can imagine the impact on the mining region’s wild life!
So, yes, if you’re trying to be environmentally responsible, the purchase of a lab-grown diamond can be a gesture in that direction.
But, don’t forget to do all the other stuff too: Drive less, and save energy in other ways. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – so that you use fewer new products overall containing newly mined materials. And, I promise that we at AIDIA will always do our part, too, to work on reducing our carbon footprint. We’re all in this together.