The Diamond Industrys Quest To Reduce Its Carbon Footprint and Protect Biodiversity
A few years ago, lab made diamonds made their mark on the diamond industry and shed light on different aspects of the naturally occuring diamond world.
From blood diamonds, or diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, to environmental concerns around carbon footprint with mining diamonds and biodiversity, consumers quickly wanted information around the integrity of the naturally occurring diamond they were purchasing and rightfully so.
So what is the natural diamond industry doing to be on the right side of history, especially with many online retailers positioning lab made diamonds as an “ethical choice,” versus natural diamonds? To start, diamond mining is generally less harmful to the environment than other types of mining. Additionally, the orebodies used in mining are vertical not horizontal, ultimately affecting less of the surrounding area. Many companies have established protected habitats adjacent to their operations, often times larger than the mining operation itself.
Over the last few years, the natural diamond industry has set out on its journey to decarbonize in line with global climate targets. As part of their carbon reduction strategies, NDC members are developing renewable energy projects, often in developing countries where it is harder to source energy, as well as engaging in carbon offsetting projects and investing in programs to sequester carbon. (Source)
As much as 99% of the waste from diamond recovery is rock and 84% of the water used in diamond recovery is recycled. The natural diamond industry abides by global environmental standards and stringent national laws. Before a single diamond is recovered, environmental permissions must be granted by governments with a legal obligation for ongoing monitoring, reporting and closure plans.
There are many contributing factors to the difference in carbon emissions recorded by the industry. These include mainly the availability of clean energy at mine locations, the production or yield capacity of a mine and exactly which stages of mining are included in methodologies.
Leaders like De Beers Group have set a goal of becoming carbon neutral across their operations by 2030 and are making progress. This process is broken down into three categories called scopes, each with a different level of goals. The first category titles Scope 1 & 2 includes improving operational efficiency, increasing the use of sustainable fuels, and switching to sustainable drive trains (the components of a motor vehicle that deliver power to the wheels), for vehicles and machinery.
Electrification of mining processes as well as the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric vehicles are promising developments for the diamond industry.
Industry leaders have taken strategic steps to develop fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haulage trucks, and the world’s first fully electric mine at Borden in Canada. Additionally, in Canada, industry leaders are designing a mine which incorporates low-carbon energy and uses only renewable sources and exploring the use of synthetic fuels and biofuels. Switching to more sustainable biofuels for trains has the potential to decrease carbon emissions by over 70% according to McKinsey.
For the emissions that the company cannot mitigate or replace with alternative energy sources, they are engaging in offsetting projects like the Wonderbag initiative, which reinvests carbon offset financing back into communities and is verified by numerous carbon standards and protocols.
As far as humanity is concerned, the isolated nature of prominent diamond mines means the workforce lives close by and develops a community spirit, which the diamond industry supports by investing in hospitals, schools, training and bursary programs.
For example, 33% of Botswana’s GDP comes from diamond mining, and an estimated five million people globally have access to health care thanks to diamond revenues, according to diamondfacts.org.
Today’s mining is not done by hand but is quite automated with miners moving millions of tons of rocks per year. Miners operating large earth loaders in open pits or underground would never even see a diamond. (Read more on this topic)
At La Bijouterie, we never work with conflict diamonds. We strictly work with ethically sourced GIA certified diamonds, and you will receive a GIA certificate and appraisal with your jewel. We want you to know that we’ve worked in the diamond wholesale business for generations and only work with trusted and ethical sources that take pride in where their diamonds are sourced.
Although we love naturally occurring diamonds and pride ourselves on the sourcing of them, we also work a lot with Lab Made diamonds. We feel both play an important role in the diamond industry and do not see one as better than the other. We’re simply here to help educate you, and demystify the sales of naturally occurring diamonds, marketing aside. Consider us your partner in transparency so that you are able to make the best purchasing decision.
We’re always at your service,
Founder of La Bijouterie
The Future of the Diamond Industry Is Still Sparkling
The diamond industry as we know it is about to get flipped upside down...well the man-made diamond industry that is.
In case you missed the latest industry news, diamond power house, and long time advocate for naturally occurring diamonds, De Beers, recently announced their launch of a lab-grown (LG) jewelry line beginning this September, called Lightbox.
The items in their new Lightbox collection will be priced between $300-$1000 dollars and their lab-made diamond will retail for a fraction of their naturally occurring cost. Simply put, they are disrupting the disruptors of the diamond industry, and doing it well.
According to the article,Lightbox has a very simple and low pricing system that takes color, clarity, and make completely out of the equation. Instead, the offering will be all about design. The pricing is straightforward and simple: diamonds go for $200 per quarter-carat, so prices are $400 for a half carat, $600 for a 0.75-carat, and $800 for a one-carat stone.
But before you think this news may have some high end jewelers running for the hills, you might want to think again.
Having such a large company like De Beers become a top player in the man-made or lab-grown diamond industry, and price their jewelry accurately, means that they are actually placing more value into naturally occurring diamonds due to their rarity and timelessness. Lab-made diamonds are just that, lab made. There is nothing special about them other than the fact that they look somewhat similar to a naturally occurring diamond. Sure they make a great gift for a young girl’s elementary school graduation necklace, but to give as an engagement ring or deeply sentimental gift would seem counterintuitive.
“We’ve been telling our customers this all along. If they don’t want to buy an actual diamond, they should look into buying moissanite instead--as any lab-made diamond just isn’t going to hold its value.” - Set F., owner of La Bijouterie and long time diamond trader/jeweler.
But don’t be fooled, although this move is actually good news for many high end jewelers specializing in diamonds, it will be extremely troublesome for business who focus solely on lab-made diamonds, as the prices for Lightbox are extremely competitive.
According to this Edahn Golan article, “From a marketing perspective, this is devilishly clever. It provides a fashion item at a very reasonable cost. But it does not end there because it certainly turns the LG discussion on its head – no longer is the price of the diamond attached to naturals. According to De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver, the cost of producing a 0.50-carat LG is double the cost of producing a 0.25-carat stone, “and there is no rarity element to it, right? So the price is double,” he explained.”
“Disconnecting LG prices from naturals, focusing on the design elements and responding to consumer interest in a fun item that is fashionable and disconnected from ethics shifts the discussion.”- EG
And shifting the discussion it has.A man made or lab made diamond is omitting the timelessness and everlasting value a naturally occurring diamond possesses. It takes away the precious scarcity and value that has made today’s diamonds so popular and desired. Although to the naked eye, these so-called diamonds may look similar, they are quite fake and unfortunately do not hold their value. Also, rarely talked about is the fact that these man made “diamonds” actually give off a blue hue.
Just as one cannot compare an original painting to a reproduction, one cannot compare a diamond to a manufactured replica. In order to be called a diamond it must be naturally occurring.
Trends around diamond shape, diamond settings, and gem color may come and go, but the beauty that is of a true diamond is everlasting.