“Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies”
Carbon Emissions Issue
Here in the real world, our planet’s “marmalade skies” are bloated with an excess of more than 100 billion tons of carbon from harmful emissions. In addition to emissions reduction programs and solutions which will sequester carbon, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also suggested carbon capture technology, where possible.
Enter… Aether Diamonds
Harvard alumnus Bob Hagemann demonstrated environmental awareness from an early age. Now he is using his Harvard Business School education, time spent consulting with luxury icons Chanel, Tiffany, and Lamborghini – as well as tech leaders such as Google and Apple – to create a product he hopes conscious consumers can be “proud about wearing.”
His company, Aether Diamonds, uses atmospheric collectors to draw carbon for gemstone creation directly from the sky. The captured CO2 is converted into hydrocarbon methane and that gas is used in a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) whereby, over a period of three to four weeks, the carbon atoms become crystallized into gem-quality diamonds.
For every 1-carat lab-grown diamond Aether produces, 20 tons of CO2 are removed from the atmosphere. Moreover, all of the energy that’s used to power the company’s reactors comes from clean, sustainable sources.
“Worth the Wait”
Interested shoppers should be advised that Aether Diamonds currently reports a 12-week lead time needed to fill orders. Promised as “worth the wait,” they offer finished rings, necklaces, bracelets and offer a custom jewelry collaboration option.
All Aether Diamonds are promised as minimum H color, VS2 clarity, as graded by the International Gemological Institute. Quotes for diamond rings start from around $8,000 – $10,000 for a 1 carat round, cushion, emerald, pear, or oval-cut Aether lab-grown diamond in 18K Fairmined white, yellow or rose gold, with 0.27 ctw of Aether lab-grown side stones.
Pollution to Solution
In addition to removing carbon from the atmosphere and using sustainable energy, all of Aether Diamonds’ packaging is made from biodegradable, reclaimed, recyclable, or renewable materials.
Hagemann also offsets the carbon impact made by shipping and logistics through the acquisition of carbon credits. By 2023 his plan is to make Aether Diamonds a carbon-negative operation by harnessing renewable sources of wind and solar power for his own process – and sending surplus energy back to the grid.
Esprit de Corps
In addition to giving consumers a different or new reason to desire a diamond, Hagemann would like to see more players in the diamond industry embrace the concept of carbon capture technology and sustainable energy solutions. To that end, he noted that Aether would be willing to license its technology to other companies.
“Our goal, despite the fact that we do have these [patent] protections in place, is to allow the diamond industry to grow and progress, and we are more than happy to license out that technology and those capabilities to brands who want to follow in our footsteps.”
– Bob Hagemann
The Lab-Grown Industry at large
Sustainability in the lab-grown diamond sector might best be described as a work in progress. The energy required to power reactors and presses is significant and – since most are produced in areas with no hydroelectricity – the burning of fossil fuels is required.
SCS Standards, an organization that has conducted audits for the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), has developed a sustainability certification program, and a small group of producers has achieved that certification, but the vast majority of lab-grown diamond producers continue to rely on significant energy consumption.
Bob Hagemann is not the only entrepreneur championing carbon capture to produce gem-quality diamonds.
Dale Vince, who is also the founder of green energy provider Ecotricity, received generous coverage in 2020 for his initiative Skydiamond. Proclaimed clean technology by The Guardian last October, Skydiamond’s rough diamonds are synthesized using carbon dioxide captured directly from the atmosphere, water collected from rainfall, and solar and wind-generated electricity.
Vince’s career has focused on areas of life that are influencing climate change – namely energy and transportation. He founded the Global Green Energy Movement in 1995 and created the Electric Highway, the world’s first national charging network for electric cars, in 2011. He is also Chairman of Forest Green Rovers, a European Football club that is both Vegan and UN-certified as carbon neutral.
“Keep In Touch”
I have followed Skydiamond since the press and video coverage appeared last year, but Vince’s company is not yet listing loose lab-grown diamonds or finished jewelry for sale. Instead, website users are invited to share their contact information in order to be alerted when Skydiamonds are available for purchase.
We look forward to further developments, Vince.
A Final Word
Zooming out from this topic to share some personal opinion: There’s no doubt that what visionaries like Hagemann and Vince are doing is cutting edge, admirable, and just plain cool. Honestly, taking pollutants out of the air and converting them to gem-quality adornments – sustainably – with carbon negative potential and willingness on Hagemann’s part to licensing that technology is fascinating and awesome.
With that said, in story after story, it’s disappointing that the mainstream media can’t seem to cover a lab-grown diamond story without taking stabs at the natural diamond trade as part of their coverage. Articles about Aether Diamond and Skydiamond are no exception.
Lab-grown diamonds certainly deserve coverage. Their beauty, affordability and controlled growth conditions have an undeniable appeal. However, the natural diamond industry also has appeal, with socially and environmentally conscious initiatives in place and ongoing since the 1990s. More importantly, the revenue from natural diamond sales sustains tens of millions of people, providing jobs and funding education and infrastructure in some of the world’s most remote areas.
Summarized, it’s positive for our industry that lab-grown and natural diamonds both have distinct value propositions for end consumers to consider. Each product can be promoted on its own merits. There’s no need for one to “chop off the other’s head” in an attempt to make themselves seem taller.
Vive la différence.
Written by John Pollard
What do you think of lab-grown diamonds? Are they appropriate for adornment? Are they appropriate for gifting? What about bridal purposes? Is it “cool” to propose to someone with a diamond that’s younger than she is? Or is the human component associated with modern tech and efforts like those above, toward clean origins, appropriate symbolism?
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