Whether they’re set in an elegant engagement ring or splashed liberally across an oversized watch case, there’s nothing like a diamond. Whether that’s because of their value, their glimmering attraction or their position as an unequivocal symbol of love, they’re precious stones in more ways than one. And yet, how we get them is often a lot less precious. Historically, diamonds have been mined, sourced and traded in less than savoury ways.
Blood diamonds funding warlords, exploitative production practices, the way we can get them can be both environmentally and socially destructive, with each mined diamond releasing up to 500kg of greenhouse gasses into the environment – a far cry from the symbol of love they often are. These days 1 in 3 mined diamonds come from Russia, which if you care about global politics is enough to make you think twice. But what if there was a way to create a diamond and not just leave the environment unharmed, but actively help it? It sounds too good to be true, but that’s precisely the magic behind Skydiamond.
First, it’s worth asking what a diamond actually is. After all, it’s just layers of carbon, lined up in a specific way. How you get there is obviously different, whether it’s millions of years of underground pressure or grown in a lab, but the concept is the same, taking carbon and transforming it into something beautiful. At the same time, in case you hadn’t noticed, we have a problem with too much carbon in the atmosphere. So, why not take it from there?
This is the concept Dale Vince OBE, an entrepreneur and environmentalist you might better know as ‘Labour’s Green Knight’, struck upon while thinking of the most permanent way of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon. After all, nothing’s harder than diamond and, with the preciousness associated with the stones, there’s an innate value to the final result. Given that 36 percent of engaged men proposed with lab-grown diamonds last year, there’s also the demand.
And so, Skydiamond was founded in 2022. It’s not just a carbon-neutral production method, but it’s actively carbon negative, something the rest of the process adheres to – and it’s an incredibly cool process to boot.
Once the carbon dioxide has been taken from the atmosphere, it’s liquified and purified. Water is then split into oxygen and hydrogen via electrolysis, with the latter being combined with the C02 to make methane. This gas is then fed into a reactor where it’s subjected to temperatures of 900 – 1,200 degrees Celsius in balls of plasma. The whole thing takes around 14 days to produce a diamond, using nothing but solar and wind power.
Now, granted there’s only a small amount of carbon trapped in each diamond. They’re incredibly dense, but not massive – a couple grammes are used to see each stone. But the fact remains that it’s carbon being captured and, perhaps more importantly, eliminating the need for mining. Why wreck the planet when you can have your diamond and wear it? Sure, there’s a certain stigma attached to lab-grown and non-mined diamonds, but that’s something we should be actively changing. When there’s no physical difference (Skydiamonds are graded and certified in exactly the same way as ‘natural’ stones) and it’s a choice between destructive and positive, there’s not much of a choice.
Diamonds have always been a symbol of love and forever shall they remain. But Skydiamond as a concept illustrates that you can represent your love, while loving the planet at the same time. If that’s not a win-win scenario, then nothing is. And maybe, just maybe, Skydiamond can lead the way to a better, more sustainable approach to diamonds as a whole.
More details at Skydiamond.