Amazing Creation: Diamonds from Atmospheric CO2

Diamonds from Atmospheric CO2
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For most people, the first thing that comes to their minds when talking about diamonds is mining. People with money to spare typically invest in diamonds. And why not? Diamonds are one of the hardest minerals. They are valuable. They even have industrial uses. Diamonds can cut glass. Other industries try to make glass as hard as diamond, to extend the product’s applications.

But diamond miners work in very difficult conditions. The fees they receive from extracting diamonds from the Earth are far less than the value of the gemstone after it is polished and set. 

Diamonds from atmospheric carbon dioxide

Diamond mining is a long process. But a startup, Aether Diamonds, based in New York, is redefining the mining process. With their revolutionary method, they help the environment as well.  

Who would think that you could make something beautiful and precious from a pollutant like carbon dioxide? Aether Diamonds, founded in 2018 by CEO Ryan Shearman, COO Daniel Wojno, and Robert Hagemann, is the world’s first manufacturer of sustainable diamonds using atmospheric carbon. 

rose gold diamond
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Similar to mined diamonds

The diamonds from Aether are chemically and physically similar to mined diamonds. According to Aether, the reactors they use mimic the natural process of diamond creation. It takes the Earth between 1 billion to 3.3 billion years to produce diamonds. But with Aether’s process, it will only take a few weeks. 

Moreover, most lab-grown diamonds come from petroleum-based by-products. Aether says they produce their diamonds from excess carbon they suck from the atmosphere. In effect, they are creating an exquisite thing from environmental pollutants. 

Crafting the diamonds

Aether says that each carat they sell is equal to 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide they harvest from the atmosphere. They use a process that combines direct air capture and other methods to remove carbon. The latter calls for the long-term sequestration of carbon. It is equivalent to a 1.25-year offset of an average American’s carbon footprint. 

The company’s manufacturing process offers a two-pronged benefit. It fights climate change through the removal of atmospheric carbon. At the same time, it helps the miners by preventing human rights violations in the diamond mining industry.

From the beginning, the company’s mission is to promote direct air capture. The company’s founders learned about the process in 2018. Afterward, they looked for a way to forge diamonds from the CO2. Aether’s objective was to produce and sell diamonds to support the market for direct air capture.

The founders of Aether learned of the direct air capture system from Climeworks of Switzerland. Now they purchase CO2 from the Climeworks facility. Aether has a proprietary process to convert the CO2 into methane of high purity (CH4). Through direct injection into the diamond reactors, the methane undergoes a chemical vapor deposition process to grow the rough diamonds in about 30 days. The entire process consumes a lot of energy, which the company supplies through nuclear and solar carbon-free sources.

Aether ships the grown diamonds to Surat, India. The facility in India cuts and polishes the raw diamonds before they send them back to Aether’s jewelry and luxury goods retail shop in the diamond district of New York City.   

Aether produced several hundred carats of diamonds in 2019, which they started shipping by the middle of 2021. By 2022, they plan to produce carats in the thousands.

Growth of Aether 

Aether Diamonds, established in 2018, already earned various credentials. It is now a certified B Corp, which means that it demonstrated high environmental and social performance, exhibited transparency, and was legally committed to changing its corporate governance structure to be more accountable. A B Corp Certification is difficult to earn. Only about four percent out of 100,000 companies that apply for the certification in the last ten years received it.

If you love diamonds and want to add new items to your collection, would you consider an Aether diamond? Aether’s diamond is a real diamond. It has the same aesthetic, clarity, and sparkle as mined diamonds. So, how are they different? Natural diamonds take billions of years to grow while Aether’s diamond and other lab-grown diamonds grow after several weeks. Further, Aether’s diamonds are a lot cheaper.