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Articles from DIAMONDS BY TYPE - SYNTHETIC / LAB-CREATED (99 Articles)

Synthetic diamond factories may not be as green as we’ve been led to believe
Synthetic diamond factories may not be as green as we’ve been led to believe

Doubts over synthetic diamond producers’ ‘eco-friendly’ claims

Claims made by some synthetic diamond manufacturers about their product being environmentally conscious and sustainable are increasingly being questioned.

The producers of lab-grown diamonds frequently market the stones as a greener and more ethical alternative to mined diamonds – particularly to consumers who are concerned about climate change.

However, Robert Bates, news director JCK Publishing Group, has challenged some of the claims. He argues that these claims are difficult to prove, impossible to apply consistently, and may be misleading to consumers.

Examining the true environmental impact of synthetic diamonds Bates asks: just how eco-friendly are lab-created diamonds?

"Bates found that lab-grown factories “require constant energy, 24/7, running huge microwave-heat generators” and that factories in China, India and Singapore are mostly fuelled by non-renewables like coal. 

Both synthetic and mined diamonds require a wide range of energy depending on the processes and techniques involved, with Bates noting that the figures are frequently incomplete on both sides.

“If a cookie contains 30 percent less sugar, that doesn’t make it a health food”
Robert Bates, news director JCK Publishing Group."

Equally complicated was assessing the carbon footprint of mined and lab-grown stones.

He writes, “In some cases the lab-grown companies compare favourably; in others, they don’t... These are both energy-intensive processes.”

The article also addresses the physical damage to the environment that diamond mining generates.

Jean-Marc Lieberherr, president Diamond Producers Association, told Bates, “Modern mining is done under very stringent environmental controls from local governments and communities.” 

A third-party auditor concluded that the DPA’s members offset their environmental impacts with a wide-scale conservation program.

However, some poorly managed mining sites, such as those in Africa, have been accused of mismanagement and pollution – a problem that lab-grown diamonds don’t have.

Finally, Bates explores the concept of ‘sustainability’ – the impact of mining and growing diamonds on human communities.

“Some 10 million people work in the diamond industry, in some of the poorest areas of the world. The diamond industry contributes US$8 billion a year to Africa,” he writes, noting, “No conservation group has endorsed lab-grown diamonds.”

One NGO executive interviewed for the piece criticised lab-grown diamond companies for focusing on the environment but ignoring a bigger question – “Is it ethical to guide people away from buying diamonds in developing countries, where a million people or more rely on the work?”

Bates noted: “It’s striking that no conservation group has endorsed lab-grown diamonds—though plenty have endorsed electric cars. We reached out to environmental organisations on this issue. None responded.”

When it comes to choosing a synthetic or a mined diamond, Bates says there are “no easy answers” and that consumers can’t make an informed choice until both sectors make their supply chains more transparent.

He concludes, “Even if lab-growns are more eco-friendly than mined, that’s an arguably inappropriate label to put on an item produced with large amounts of non-renewable energy. If a cookie contains 30 percent less sugar, that doesn’t make it a health food.”

Full story: Just how eco-friendly are lab-created diamonds?


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