Lab Grown Diamonds: An Environmentally Conscious Choice
Diamonds are one of the world's most sought-after and valuable gemstones. They are prized for their hardness and the fact they reflect light, creating a dazzling effect. Since natural diamonds are buried in the earth, they must be mined, a process that is incredibly destructive to the environment. Manufactured diamonds grown in labs have become increasingly popular since they have many qualities found in natural stones but are ethically sourced.
What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Scientists have been producing manufactured diamonds since the 1950s, and early versions were often used in laser optics, health care, and telecommunications. By the 1980s, manufacturers were creating higher-quality, colorless versions that mimicked natural stones. Today, shoppers searching for exceptional jewelry with diamonds can find pieces that include lab-grown gemstones indistinguishable from natural stones.
Lab-grown diamonds are created using the same materials that form natural gemstones. Manufacturers replicate mined stones so closely that skilled jewelers often cannot detect a manufactured version using sight alone. However, well-equipped laboratories have the resources to identify the differences.
Problems Associated with Mining Diamonds
Natural diamonds take millions of years to form, and are buried so deeply that it takes extraordinary effort to retrieve them. Because diamonds maintain their value and are always in demand, companies worldwide have been willing to use destructive practices to get to the gemstones.
Diamond miners need to destroy land and waterways to reach buried diamonds. Over a hundred years of mining in areas like Angola have poisoned water supplies, decimated thousands of miles of land, eliminated agricultural soil, and left entire towns scarred. Many populations have been forced to find new homes because their land was decimated.
With these kinds of issues in mind, it is becoming more common for jewelers and designers to choose ethically sourced stones. Per CNN, high-quality, lab-grown gemstones have also become the first choice for many environmentally conscious shoppers.
Eco-Friendly Lab-Created Diamonds
According to The Environmental Magazine, choosing man-made gemstones not only provides buyers with gorgeous diamonds that simulate the beauty of mined stones but offers several environmental benefits.
About 126 gallons of water are consumed for each carat of mined diamonds. It only takes 18 gallons of water to create one carat in a lab, and the process does not pollute natural waterways the way mining does.
It also requires far less energy to make diamonds in a lab. The diamond-mining process uses about 538.5 joules of energy per carat, while man-made stones consume about 250 million joules. Also, energy used in making diamonds in labs is renewable.
A single carat of mined diamonds will disturb about 100 square feet of land. The process results in 5,798 pounds of mineral waste and makes fertile land unusable. Worse, the problem doesn't end when mines close. Because the process for closing mines is largely unregulated, there is little or no infrastructure designed to restore ecosystems that are unable to restore themselves.
Lab-grown diamonds create very little carbon dioxide compared to mined stones. While mined diamonds can produce 30 pounds of sulfur oxide, many man-made diamond manufacturers are carbon neutral.
Diamonds are some of the most elegant and in-demand stones globally, but mining them can have devastating impacts on the environment. With that in mind, many consumers now shop for lab-grown diamonds that replicate natural stones so closely jewelers often cannot tell the difference just by looking at them. Diamonds created in a lab are far more eco-friendly than mined versions.