‘Carbon negative’ diamonds made from air

Jewellery brand Aether uses their own technology to transform carbon dioxide air pollution into diamonds.

Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure. The material comes into being under high pressure and temperature. Natural diamonds have ages between 1 billion and 3.5 billion years and were formed at depths between 150 and 250 kilometres (93 and 155 miles) in the Earth’s mantle. They were brought to the surface in volcanic eruptions.

While natural diamonds are not as rare as is often claimed, their extraction from the ground is hardly sustainable, both environmentally and socially. Environmentally, soil erosion, deforestation can be consequences. In some African countries, diamond miners are forced to work and child labour can be involved. Diamonds from these regions are often referred to as blood diamonds for those reasons.

By recreating natural conditions, synthetic diamonds can be made. Unlike most synthetic variants of natural materials, synthetic diamonds are chemically identical to their natural counterparts and have less impurities. However, lab grown diamonds are often made from carbon from fossil fuels, produced for that purpose.

In this, Aether claims to be different. Their process consists of a three-week, three-part procedure that includes carbon capture, manufacturing, and hydrocarbon. A Swiss partner company captures carbon dioxide from the air. The captured carbon gas is turned into hydrocarbon, which, in turn, is used to create gem-grade diamonds through chemical vapor deposition. The entire process saves 127 gallons of freshwater, and every one-carat diamond removes 20 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. So while the diamonds are of course made of carbon, ‘carbon negative’ refers to the fact that it uses more carbon from the air than it emits.

Aether says their diamonds are in the top 2% of quality of diamonds available on the market. All of the diamonds are tested and graded by the International Gemological Institute and the Natural Capital Partners, who evaluate their diamond-making process and carbon impact.

Images: Aether