It may seem like a thing of fantasy, but a luxury jewellery startup has created diamonds that are made of thin air.
Aether pulls carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air to make its lab-grown gems, which are physically and chemically identical to those that are mined.
It bills them as carbon-negative diamonds by claiming to remove 20 tonnes of CO2 from the air for every one-carat diamond sold.
That’s what earned Aether the B Corp Certification as the first and only diamond producer with that title.
Its gems are unlike other lab-grown diamonds because these are created from petrochemicals like methane.
Aether is now planning to use $18 million (£13.75 million) in funding to ramp up the production of its diamonds, including a wholesale programme that has just been launched.
Ryan Shearman told Forbes that he became immediately intrigued when he heard about this new direct capture technology created by a company in Switzerland that strips harmful CO2 out of the air, and he wondered if they could take all this abundant, harmful carbon that’s warming the world and turn it into a beautiful form of carbon that warms the heart – diamonds.
He said that they were addressing the lab-grown market in a new way since there’s some level of emissions and environmental impact from the fossil fuel production used for lab growth and that it gets down to both mined, and lab-grown diamonds taking sides about which harms the environment less. Aether turns that paradigm on its head and that we would be benefiting the planet.
The company uses a reactor to remove CO2 from the air.
Its clever technology then follows the hydrocarbon synthesis, which means that captured CO2 is synthesised into the hydrocarbon feedstock needed for growing diamonds in a chemical vapour deposition reactor.
The next step is diamond growth, where the hydrocarbon raw material is fed into specialised chemical vapour deposition reactors that are powered by 100 per cent clean energy.
Once the diamond crystals are completely developed, experts cut, polish, and add the final touches to the gems.
Aether hasn’t revealed any cost details of its four-step diamond making method, but it does save 127 gallons of fresh water which is typically used per mined carat, along with not wasting so much energy because the gems require only half the energy consumption of mined diamonds.
Shearman said Aether was proud to be the architect of the world’s first gem-quality diamonds from the atmosphere.
These gems are evidently not fake diamonds, they’re just grown in a lab, and seemingly identical to mined diamonds – the same way an IVF baby would be grown in a lab, but we wouldn’t call it a fake baby. Although, of course, babies aren’t diamonds.
Some people want natural diamonds, some don’t care. The same way that some people want to eat 100 per cent organic food and others don’t care if it’s modified.
However, these man-made gems are worthless because they’re not rare and will be controlled to inflate the value, but then is a mined diamond a man-made belief that it’s actually worth something because it comes from the ground?
Diamonds seem to be deliberately controlled to sell them as being rare, although they’re plentiful all around the world in so many different countries, but hype sells, and it sells because people want a nice quality rock as long as the cost is within reason, but many diamonds are not worth the overpriced sticker tag that is merely various degrees of carbon.
However, with crime being what it is, who wants to be sporting such an expensive diamond? It’s far too dangerous and there are fakes out there that just look like the same thing, that’s if you don’t look at it too closely. But the truth is it’s not worth wearing a natural diamond because criminals are on the prowl all the time.