Growing and cutting a carbon neutral diamond ring

Apple’s chief design officer Sir Jony Ive and industrial designer Marc Newson designed a unique diamond ring out of one piece for (RED), an auction the proceeds of which go to fighting AIDS. The ring will be grown by diamond growing facility Diamond Foundry.

Diamonds consist of a special form of crystallised carbon. Unlike popular belief, they are not rare. The scientists estimate a quadrillion tons of diamonds lie deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Since the 1930s, diamonds have grown in popularity and production has increased 100 fold. However, many diamonds are mined in conflict areas and war zones and used to finance war related activities. These diamonds are often referred to as blood diamonds.

Diamond Foundry creates lab grown diamonds above ground in the US and are the first in the world to do so certified carbon neutral. The process uses solar technology to re-create the way in which diamonds form in nature, a process which uses less energy than mining them, and they are guaranteed conflict-free.

The grown diamonds are just as real as the ones found in nature. They have the same optical, chemical, thermal and physical features as mined diamonds. Each grown diamond is unique in is own way, with one-of-a-kind inclusions and growth patterns. All grown diamonds are certified with a unique gemological ID.

Ive and Newson’s design takes advantage of the growing technology to achieve a ring that is nearly impossible to make from natural diamond. Rather than setting a diamond in a ring, the ring consists entirely of diamond. Finding a diamond of that size is nearly impossible, especially of the required purity. For the team at Diamond Foundry were faced with a challenge to create a base plate of the required dimensions to make a block of diamond big enough for a ring.

“To create this, it required coaxing the first ten atoms of a layer into believing that a certain rare metal is a diamond, these atoms would assemble into real diamond and allow the creation of diamond blocks of previously unprecedented size,” the team explains. “This process was not previously considered possible. Through this process and Diamond Foundry’s plasma reactor technology, managed to create the first diamond blocks of the required size for this design project.”

The block will then be shaped by Diamond Foundry’s Antwerp-based master cutter, who has polished some of the world’s largest diamonds. Since there are no guidelines to create the shape and model, the cutter has to use custom tools and create the ring from scratch.

The ring has several thousand facets, some of which as small as several hundred micrometres, a feat never before seen in a single piece. The interior ring will be cut out using a water jet, inside which a laser beam is cast.

The ring will be auctioned on 5 December 2018 by Sotheby’s during Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami. The auction will be preceded by a public exhibition presented by Gagosian at the famed Moore Building, which will open on World AIDS Day, 1 December.

Photos: Diamond Foundry