No, Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Not “Mining-Free” – JCK

This yr, the Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) will begin revising its “Inexperienced Guides,” which lay out guidelines for environmental advertising and marketing claims.

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) is asking the trade for options for the way the Inexperienced Guides ought to deal with jewellery. (JVC’s suggestion type is here.)

Right here’s one comparatively small—however irritating—problem that I hope can be thought-about.

The FTC mustn’t enable—or, on the very least, it ought to place strict parameters on—phrases similar to “mining-free,” “created with out mining,” and “no mining.” These descriptors are incessantly used for lab-grown diamonds. Examples will be seen here, here, here, here, and here.

From what I perceive, the FTC judges claims and descriptions on two fundamental standards. First, they need to be true. (Clearly.) Second, they’ve to obviously talk the character of the product.

So, for instance, the time period “aboveground diamonds” is likely to be technically correct, however FTC attorneys say it doesn’t correctly talk the diamond’s lab-grown origin. (In spite of everything, some pure diamonds are discovered above floor.)

A descriptor similar to “mining-free” does fulfill the second standards: It clearly communicates the diamonds’ lab-grown origin. The issue is, lab-grown diamonds aren’t mining-free.

“Mining-free” implies there was no mining concerned within the diamonds’ manufacturing. However only a few merchandise on this world will be thought-about really mining-free. The iMac I’m typing this on actually isn’t. Mined supplies can even be wanted to provide inexperienced expertise. Nonetheless you’re feeling about mining—and it’s a sector with loads of dangerous in addition to good—its merchandise encompass us day by day. With out it, we couldn’t get a lot performed.

Manufacturing high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) diamonds requires graphite. Producing lab-grown diamonds with the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) methodology requires high-purity methane and hydrogen. The methane is mostly sourced from oil, gasoline, and coal mining.

“Methane primarily comes from the bottom,” says David Hardy, founding father of, a diamond grower. “So does graphite.… Even the gear used has metals, they usually don’t come from the air both.”

Ryan Shearman, cofounder and chief alchemist of Aether Diamonds, which converts carbon dioxide captured from the air into methane to create lab-grown gems, asserts that “there’s no actual strategy to supply methane responsibly. It’s both coming from crude oil manufacturing or it’s coming from fracking.”

He says new methods of producing methane are beginning to emerge—together with from biogenic sources (i.e., livestock)—however there aren’t presently established provide chains for that.

When one seems on the many pages of details about lab-grown diamonds on-line, these points are hardly ever addressed. Pandora is one the few corporations that mentions them in its lab-grown diamond sustainability report (which is just obtainable as a PDF download):

In uncooked supplies acquisition, the potential social and environmental impacts [of lab-grown diamonds] are related to the extraction of uncooked supplies similar to pure gasoline and/or coal for the manufacturing of excessive purity methane and hydrogen. The extraction of pure gasoline and coal will be related to important inherent social and environmental impacts.

Excessive purity methane gasoline is assumed to be produced from Liquified Pure Gasoline (LNG), and due to this fact uncooked materials acquisition begins with the extraction of pure gasoline.

In Europe, hydrogen is usually produced from pure gasoline through steam methane reforming whereas in China, the world’s largest hydrogen producing nation, it’s primarily produced through coal gasification utilizing arduous coal.

Are main quantities of those supplies used? Growers say no.

“They’re very small portions used, and they’re in some methods far much less essential than the electrical supply used,” says Hardy.

Pandora’s report—which, we should always be aware, was company-sponsored—says the emissions required to get these supplies “can’t be fully eradicated however will be off-set by means of investments in high quality carbon off-setting schemes.” It additionally says “that the dangers ‘attributable’ to the lab-grown diamonds from the CVD course of is probably minimal given the trade’s share of complete produced pure gasoline (to excessive purity methane and hydrogen) is negligible.”

I’m not trying to have interaction within the tiresome lab-versus-natural eco-debate. It isn’t clear how a lot of those supplies is used, as most producers are proprietary about their expertise and nearly by no means provide arduous numbers. That is about terminology.

Whatever the certain quantity, mined supplies are used within the creation of nearly all lab-grown diamonds. To say that these stones are “mining-free,” or that “no mining” is concerned of their creation, is simply not true. Whereas there could also be a couple of exceptions, if mining went away tomorrow, so would lab-grown diamonds. But even revered retailers like Well-liked Science parrot assertions that lab-grown diamonds contain “no mining in any respect.”

One can simply conjure alternate verbiage that’s simply as clear however way more truthful, like calling lab-grown diamonds “non-mined” or specifying there’s “no diamond mining,” somewhat than “no mining” typically. However that is about greater than only a linguistic tweak.

Diamond growers understand how their merchandise are created. They know they use methane and the place it comes from, even when most of their clients don’t. But some nonetheless declare their product is “mining-free” or created with no mining.

That is about greater than a poor phrase selection. That is about terminology that’s probably deceptive. That’s the reason it shouldn’t be allowed.

“I doubt many issues will be classed as mine-free,” says Hardy. “There isn’t any actual silver bullet.”

And even silver comes from the earth.

Prime: Oil and gasoline mining is a significant supply of methane emissions. (Photograph: Leslie Von Pless/courtesy of NASA)

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