It’s been well documented over the last decade that diamonds (as well as gold and other popular jewellery products), are in fact, definitely not our best friends – despite the overused statement attempting to tell us differently.
Over the last few centuries, even up to today’s world, it’s rare that people understand the origins of their gemstones. Passing through the hands of multiple dealers, merchants and countries, it’s an industry that has always been known for being impervious and murky. With so much of the production reliant upon natural products and mining for materials, the environmental impact is treacherous.
Of course, it is not only problematic when it comes to the environment. Unfortunately, the jewellery industry, and diamonds in particular, has been linked to corruption and unethical behaviour for centuries. In fact, according to a report by the Yale School of the Environment, ‘it’s estimated that at least 60% of mined diamonds sold in the U.S have problematic ties to military governments and corruption.’
Transparent and ethical sourcing, as well as low energy usage and using sustainable materials, is all at the centre of a sustainable and environmentally friendly jewellery industry. Sustainability, in its truest form, needs to be approached holistically, as well as with the product. Similarly, while people’s habits don’t change and the population continues to want things that are ultimately bad for the environment, little change is going to happen.
There has, however, over the last two years, been a turning point in the approach to jewellery consumption and creation. At the centre of this positive progression is the fact that so many creative players are campaigning for change and development. Innovation and pioneering attempts at disrupting and catapulting the industry forwards have completely transformed the sustainable outlook of the future.
One such company that’s truly pushing boundaries is actively changing the shape of the future. Say hello to Aether, the world’s first carbon-negative and truly sustainable diamonds: alchemized from air and handset in fair-mined gold. Founded by climate-change campaigner and mechanical engineer Ryan Shearman, Aether is a luxury jewelry company with a paradigm-shifting vision. The jewellery pushes the boundaries of design, technology, and craftsmanship in order to pave the way for a more beautiful, honest, and enduring world.
Made from air, the diamonds created by the company are certified by the International Gemological Institute and are held to the same standards as mined diamonds. Naturally, due to their world-first status, the Aether stones are the most rare you can buy and, as it stands, their quality is among the top 2% of all diamonds on the planet.
What’s pertinent, too, is the notion that they have created something that can affect change for good, but without people having to change their habits. Instead, the company is creating an altogether new solution. They’ve recognised that people will still buy jewellery, and have created something that positively impacts through the production techniques.
It’s true that there are other big companies making brilliant moves in the lab-grown jewellery world, but other lab-grown diamond brands still source their carbon from fossil fuels. With a lack of transparency in the lab-grown industry, and blatant green washing happening every day, it’s generally pretty hard for a consumer to see through the marketing messages and ‘facts’.
That’s where Aether has really changed the story (and, the happy ending). They are proudly aboveground, meaning nothing is drilled or dug, and nothing harms the planet. ‘Amid global climate change and all of the other challenges 2020 has brought with it, we believe there is currently great opportunity for high-minded doers to step in and help shape the future,’ says Ryan. ‘Now more than ever, forces for true and lasting change are coalescing to transform our world into one where massive positive advancements for humanity and the planet are truly possible.’
After years and years of research, invention and blood, sweat and tears, the company came up with the protected technology to alchemize diamonds from air pollution. So, how does it work, exactly? In simple terms, the process happens across four stages.
Firstly, atmospheric collectors pull carbon dioxide air pollution straight out of the sky. As the air is drawn in, the CO2 collects in specialized filters. This captured CO2 is then synthesized into a usable hydrocarbon raw material, perfect for growing diamonds. From here, the hydrocarbon raw materials are placed into powerful reactors that create the perfect environment for growing a diamond. The diamonds grow fractal by fractal as the carbon atoms align into crystalline form. Aether sends the rough diamonds to cutters and polishers who help the diamonds achieve peak perfection.
Amazingly, each carat removes approximately 20 tonnes of carbon out of the sky. When you consider that the average person in the UK has an annual carbon footprint of 12.7 tonnes and in the US, 16 tonnes, buying a 2-carat diamond offsets a huge amount of carbon.
It’s exactly this type of change that young consumers want to see. In fact, according to a recent article by Matter of Form: ‘Ethical transparency around jewellery production is critical now, especially among millennials, who favour products and businesses that have a conscience. The 4 Cs will no longer cut it –– millennials want to be assured that what they are buying has not had a negative impact on humans or the environment. The provenance of the stone is key.’
Aether is proud to be a part of this idea of change for good. ‘Creating the world’s first positive-impact diamonds is just the beginning, and we are committed to becoming an independently carbon-negative company by 2023,’ Ryan continues.
‘We’re actively building a future where we generate our own renewable energy sources, returning excess clean power to the grid. Until then, offsets neutralize our operational impact as a whole, and help shift the industry from old power to new.’