Lab Created Diamonds and Sustainability

Diamonds celebrate moments and emotions we want to remember forever. When you are shopping for diamonds, you want to be sure that they haven’t harmed the environment, workers or the community. Wearing diamonds should feel good so of course you wouldn’t want to buy a conflict diamond engagement ring or a sparkling diamond necklace produced in a way that does lasting damage to the earth.

The search for diamonds that are kinder to the earth and our communities leads many consumers to choose lab-created diamond jewelry. Sustainability-minded consumers want to minimize the environmental cost of mining diamonds in pristine wilderness in far-flung corners of the earth and eliminate the potential exploitation of workers in impoverished and war-torn areas of the world.

And there are more sustainability-minded consumers every year. A recent survey funded by the De Beers Group found that almost one-third of consumers value sustainability in their natural diamond purchases, even above price and design. 

You may have read arguments from natural diamond mining companies and wholesalers that say that lab created diamonds aren’t better for the environment than natural diamonds. They say that diamond mining provides employment and benefits for diamond producing nations. Creating diamonds in the laboratory does use energy and every man-made product also has an environmental footprint. So are lab grown diamonds better for the environment than mined diamonds? 

Fortunately, we now have a reliable way to find out. SCS Global Services, the company behind many environmental standards, including USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, now provides an audited in-depth objective look at the environmental impact of the best lab-grown diamond growers and certifies them as sustainable.

SCS Certified Sustainability Rated Producers have been audited on origin traceability, ethical stewardship, verified climate neutrality, sustainable production practices, and sustainability investments. No other diamond sustainability standard is as comprehensive.

Here are the facts on the environmental impact of lab created vs natural diamonds and the environment so you can decide if lab-grown diamonds are better for you.


The Environmental Impact of Lab Grown Diamonds

Because diamonds only form under extreme conditions of heat and pressure, creating diamonds in a laboratory requires a lot of energy. How that energy is produced is the most important aspect of the environmental impact of growing diamonds. Renewable energy produced by solar, wind, or hydro power a much smaller carbon footprint than energy produced by fossil fuels, especially coal-fired plants in China where many lab-created diamonds are produced.

So not all lab-grown diamonds are the same when it comes to environmental impact. You can’t say that all lab-grown diamonds are “eco friendly” just because they are lab-created, without anything to back up these claims. (The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to several lab-created diamond retailers in 2019 to notify them that their unsupported environmental claims were in violation of the FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.)

Being better than mined diamonds isn’t enough to make lab created diamonds “green.” That’s why at Carbon Atelier, we sell only lab-grown diamonds created by SCS Certified Sustainability Rated Producers. These diamond growers have passed the SCS strict audit of their environmental impact, employee and community relations and supply chain. They are certified climate neutral, with greenhouse gas emission offsets from United Nations Framework on Climate Change issued projects. SCS Certified Sustainability Rated Producers also contribute to a better world by investing in artisanal diamond mining communities, making up for the fact that they do not buy mined diamonds and support climate mitigation projects around the world. 

Carbon Atelier lab created diamond jewelry featuring these sustainably grown diamonds is also affordable and easy to buy on Amazon. If the environment is important to you, make sure you ask for the detailed facts supporting any sustainability claims before buying a lab grown diamond, just as you would a mined diamond.


The Environmental Impact of Natural Diamonds

The environmental impact of natural diamonds begins at the mine. Most diamonds are mined from huge open pit operations, many of them in remote places like the tundra or the savannah. The ecosystem around the mine is affected not only by the mining pit but also by the roads, housing, buildings, heavy machinery, water diversions, reservoirs, power lines and other construction required for these huge operations in sensitive wilderness areas.

Mining diamonds contributes to the economies of producing countries and provides jobs in areas where there aren’t many employment options. Mining companies protect three times the land disturbed by mining and have promised to improve the efficiency of their water and energy use, to manage waste, and to restore land after mining. But no diamond mine has yet certified as climate neutral using SCS standards (or any other standards.)

Instead, diamond miners have focused on developing traceability using blockchain so you can confirm their diamonds were not mined in conflict zones. That has helped people who want to avoid buying diamonds that have been mined by Alrosa, the Russian mining company partly owned by the Russian government. Alrosa is the world’s largest diamond producer, accounting for about a third of the world’s mined diamonds.

But these efforts don’t include an audited record of each individual diamond mine’s carbon emissions and environmental impact, which would be necessary in order to offset those emissions by investing in projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. 

An emphasis on promoting traceability favors large global multinational mining companies. That can make it more difficult for the thousands of small artisanal miners around the globe to get a fair price for their diamonds, making their lives even more challenging.


The Environmental Impact of Lab-Grown vs Natural Diamonds

In our opinion, diamonds produced in the SCS Certified Sustainability Rated Diamond Program are the most sustainable option because they require producers and handlers to achieve climate neutrality by offsetting their emissions today, including past “legacy emissions.” And we are confident that these claims are verified because SCS audits its Certified Sustainability Rated Producers and checks to make sure they have actually produced all the diamonds they sell by testing samples for trace elements.

Because no diamond mining company has met SCS standards, no mined diamonds live up to our criteria of sustainability.  That’s why we believe lab-created diamonds from SCS Certified Sustainability Rated Producers are the best diamonds for the environment. We think sustainability is too important to wait for future action: we want our diamond suppliers changing the way they operate today. 

If you agree, you can shop Carbon Atelier’s sustainably created lab created diamond engagement rings and lab created diamond necklaces, and lab diamond stud earrings to make sure your jewelry is beautiful inside and out.

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