Lab-grown diamonds have been the favourite natural diamond alternative for quite many over the past few years. They have been in high demand, with 2020 alone showing a production of 6-7 million carat production. Many diamond trading organizations have been ditching traditional mining to procure diamonds in favour of lab grown diamonds.
The mined diamond industry has been tormented by troubling issues such as labour abuse and a consistent dearth of transparency in operations and trading. Lab-created diamonds thus serve as a refreshing reform to counter such problems. These artificial diamonds are identical to naturally occurring ones in quality and characteristics. The main thing they vary in is that they are developed in laboratories using scientific techniques, such as High Pressure High Temperature (HPPT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD).
These lab-developed diamonds have been touted to be eco-friendly and sustainable ever since their inception. Many label it as a marketing gimmick with unsubstantiated claims. But here are certain facts that strongly attest to the environmental positivity claims that these diamonds are tagged with-
Since these diamonds are developed synthetically, they completely do away with the towering extraction costs associated with natural diamonds, making them a sustainable and ideal choice for millennial and centennial consumers.
Research shows that one carat of lab-grown diamond can conserve up to:
- 109 gallons of water
- 1.5 billion units carbon emission per carat
- 250 tonnes of land from getting wreaked havoc on
On the contrary, 150 million carats of diamonds mined per year exhaust 16.3 billion gallons of water and destroy 37.5 billion tonnes of land. The statistics released by Diamond Foundry suggest that the total carbon footprint generated by mined diamonds is much higher than that of lab-grown diamonds. This is because extracting underground diamonds from the earth requires more energy expenditure than making above-ground diamonds. Moreover, the fuels used in the mining industry are usually non-renewable conventional sources such as diesel, in contrast to renewable energy used in above-the-ground production.
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Artificial diamonds cause significantly lesser levels of environmental damage than mining, which requires the tilling of earth, which causes soil erosion in the long run. As mentioned earlier, it also consumes massive volumes of freshwater, which is already scarce in certain parts of the world, giving rise to serious concerns.
Also, air pollution and acid mine drainage from mining potentially contaminate water sources, thus rendering them undrinkable. Lab-made diamonds eliminate all these concerns and serve as the perfect alternative for natural diamonds for all practical purposes.
Since the issue of labour mismanagement and abuse is very effectively addressed with the development of lab grown diamonds, they add a humanitarian touch to the sustainable practices in the diamond trading industry. At certain times, companies retailing and promoting such artificial diamonds have been accused of doing ‘Greenwashing”, which is the practice of making false propaganda regarding sustainable methods being in place with the concerned product.
This is valid because developing diamonds in the laboratory obviously is far from guaranteeing zero carbon footprint. But if you weigh out the pros and the cons, it is just a trade-off between a more extensive set of cons in the case of mined diamonds, as opposed to the much smaller and streamlined environmental impact caused by lab-grown ones.
So, the question is, what all to look for to make a safe purchase of a lab-made diamond?
- Buy from a jeweller consenting to provide the necessary documentation supporting the validity of the diamonds
- Ensure that the ethics are as high as the aesthetics when it comes to the entire process
- Try to delve into the background of the procedure and find out how much quantitative the environmental impact of the diamond is
Sustainable fashion has been an in-thing, but who knew diamonds would get added to that category as well? Well, they are now, with these entirely lab-developed ‘carbon-negative’ diamonds!