British clean energy entrepreneur Dale Vince has announced his brand new venture, Sky Diamonds. Vince and his team claim to have developed lab-grown diamonds made from capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air we breathe in a world’s first, and these “zero-impact” diamonds could be here as soon as next year.
Dale Vince, the founder of British green energy supplier Ecotricity and owner of the country’s first vegan football club Forest Green Rovers, says his next project dubbed Sky Diamonds will make carats of “zero-impact” lab-grown diamonds a reality. In a world’s first, the team behind the new venture has managed to develop diamonds that are made using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, water from rainfall and energy from the wind and sun in their “sky mining facility” based in the English market town of Stroud.
What’s more is these diamonds could even be carbon-negative – meaning that the process of making them could capture more carbon dioxide than it produces, taking it beyond having a neutral impact on the environment to having a positive footprint. Sky Diamonds’ final product is chemically identical to conventional diamonds that have been mined from the earth, and are accredited by the International Gemological Institute.
Making diamonds from nothing more than the sky, from the air we breathe – is a magical, evocative idea – it’s modern alchemy. We don’t need to mine the earth to have diamonds, we can mine the sky.Dale Vince
“Making diamonds from nothing more than the sky, from the air we breathe – is a magical, evocative idea – it’s modern alchemy. We don’t need to mine the earth to have diamonds, we can mine the sky,” said Vince, in conversation with the Guardian.
Though a price tag for the climate-friendly lab-grown diamonds have yet to be announced, Vince predicts that the company will be able to produce 200 carats every month with a projected scale-up to 1,000 carats monthly in the year ahead. Pre-orders will be made available from early next year, he said.
The exact manufacturing process that Sky Diamonds uses is called chemical vapour deposition, whereby a “diamond seed” is placed inside a sealed mill or chamber that is heated to extremely high temperatures and filled with carbon-rich methane. The methane, which is made using carbon sourced from the air and a renewable-powered electrolysis machine, will bond with the seed to create an anatomically identical gem.
We no longer need to dig these enormous holes in the ground – they’re visible from space, some of them. We don’t need to do that to get diamonds, we can just make them from the sky in an entirely benign process.Dale Vince
Traditionally, diamonds mined by the industry can involve shifting thousands of tonnes of rock and earth, rerouting rivers and constructing dams, leaving disastrous impacts on fish and wildlife and even cause natural ecosystems to collapse entirely. Not to mention, the diamond mining industry is severely tainted with bloody conflicts, giving rise to the term “blood diamonds”, as well as other ethical issues, from widespread child labour to hazardous working conditions and unfair wages.
Now with its weeks-long process to grow ethical, planet-friendly diamonds, Vince hopes to bring much-needed disruption to the problematic industry. “We no longer need to dig these enormous holes in the ground – they’re visible from space, some of them. We don’t need to do that to get diamonds, we can just make them from the sky in an entirely benign process,” he told PA.
“We see this as 21st century technology, the exact kind of thing we need to be doing to fight the climate and other sustainability crises, but also enable us to carry on living the way that we’re used to living and want to live.”
All images courtesy of Jeff Moore / PA Wire / Borkowski.