A startup is sucking CO2 from the sky and making diamonds.

When we think of diamonds, there are some images that come to our minds; the wealthy wearing them or the miners working in difficult conditions to actually mine the diamonds that have earned the gems the title of "blood diamonds". Sadly, diamond mining is an industry where human rights issues raise concern even with the Kimberly Process. - IE

But now, Aether Diamonds, a startup that was founded in 2018 by Ryan Shearman and Daniel Wojno along with Robert Hagemann, became the first manufacturer to use atmospheric carbon to create sustainable diamonds.

"Good" diamonds?

According to Aether, each carat sold equals 20 metric tons of CO2 taken from the atmosphere, using a mix of direct air capture and other carbon removal methods that involve long-term carbon sequestration, which could offset the average American’s carbon footprint by 1.25 years.This way of manufacturing could help in the fight against climate change by removing carbon from the air and also help the industry itself by preventing the violation of human rights in diamond mining. 

Direct air capture has been part of Aether’s mission from the beginning. Shearman and Wojno founded the company after reading about direct air capture in 2018 and searched to find a way to forge diamonds using the carbon pulled from the air. Their aim has always been to sell enough diamonds to support the direct air capture market. 

The company produced “hundreds of carats” of diamonds last year and started shipping its first diamonds to customers in mid-2021. Now, Aether plans to produce thousands of carats in 2022.

Aether Diamonds can now add certified B Corp status to its credentials. To obtain a B Corp Certification a company must demonstrate high social and environmental performance, make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable, and exhibit transparency. But the certification isn’t easy to earn. Out of more than 100,000 companies that have applied for the certification in the last decade, only around 4,000 companies have got it.

How are diamonds created from CO2 emissions?

Aether starts the diamond manufacturing process by purchasing carbon dioxide from Climeworks facility, a leading direct air capture firm headquartered in Switzerland, and shipping it to the U.S. Aether puts the purchased CO2 through a proprietary process and converts it into high purity methane, or CH4. That methane is then directly injected into the diamond reactors, where the chemical vapor deposition method is used to grow rough diamond material in a few weeks. The chemical vapor deposition process heats gasses to very high temperatures under near-vacuum conditions which consume high amounts of energy. But as the company tackles climate change, the chemical vapor deposition and other manufacturing stages of Aether are powered solely by carbon-free sources like solar and nuclear.

The grown diamonds are shipped to Surat, India, where they’re cut and polished, and then get sent back to New York City’s diamond district for sale. Would you be interested in buying them? 

'The Rock,' the largest white diamond ever auctioned, falls short of expectations. News, 13th May 2022
Credit: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The largest white diamond to ever come up for auction has been sold for 21,681,000 CHF ($21.9 million) at Christie's in Geneva. - cnn

The 228.31-carat, pear-shaped gemstone -- dubbed "The Rock" -- originated from South Africa, where some of the largest diamonds in the world have been found, including the pear-shaped "Star of Africa" and rose cushion cut "Golden Jubilee."

"The Rock" is about the size of a golf ball and was previously worn as a lavish Cartier necklace by its former owner. Along with the pear-shaped stone, the new owner will also receive a round diamond and platinum pendant mounting from the French luxury brand.

Diamond Prices Are Spiking and Even De Beers Can’t Fill the Gap. News, 13th May 2022

The price of a small rough diamond, the type that would end up clustered around the solitaire stone in a ring, has jumped about 20% since the start of March, according to people familiar with the matter. The reason: Diamond cutters, polishers and traders are struggling to source stones after the US levied sanctions on De Beers’s Russian rival, Alrosa PJSC, which accounts for about a third of global production. - Bloomberg

For most of the modern history of diamonds, this is the sort of situation where De Beers could have tapped its vast stockpiles or simply fired up latent mining capacity. Little more than 20 years ago, its safes in London held stocks of diamonds worth perhaps as much as $5 billion.

Those days are now long gone. The company only carries working inventory stocks and its mines are running at full tilt. There is little chance of material increases in supply before 2024, when an expansion at its flagship South African mine will be completed.

“It’s very difficult to see us bringing on any new production,” Chief Executive Officer Bruce Cleaver said in an interview in Cape Town. “Thirty percent of supply being removed isn’t sustainable.”

Diamond Miner De Beers Returns to Angola After Ten-Year Absence. News, 22th April 2022
FILE PHOTO: Diamonds are displayed at the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (GSS) in Gaborone, Botswana, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

LUANDA (Reuters) -Diamond miner De Beers has signed two mineral investment contracts with the Angolan government, the Anglo American subsidiary said on Wednesday, in a return to the southern African country it left in 2012.

The contracts, for licence areas in the northeast, are for 35 years and give De Beers the rights to explore and mine, through two new joint ventures with Angola's state diamond company Endiama.

De Beers will hold 90% of the new joint ventures and Endiama will hold 10% initially but can increase its equity share over time, Angola's oil and natural resources minister Diamantino Azevedo said at a ceremony in the capital, Luanda.

"De Beers' return to Angola marks an important moment for the country and for the global mining sector," Azevedo said.

Alrosa suspends Natural Diamond Council membership. News, 9th March 2022
US sanctions have hit Alrosa. Pictured, CEO Sergei S. Ivanov. (Photo: Dmitry Amelkin, Transformation Director of Alrosa’s Polishing Division. Courtesy of Alrosa | Twitter. )

Russia’s Alrosa (MCX: ALRS), the world’s top diamond miner by output, suspended on Friday its membership in the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), a market alliance of the world’s leading producers of precious stones. - Mining

The move comes only a day after the company, which was placed on the US sanctions list, decided to step down from its position as vice chair of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), a global business standard-setting organization for the jewellery and watch industry. 

The Mirny, Sakha-based miner qualified the economic implications of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine as “unprecedented,” noting that the company would do “everything” needed to mitigate the outcomes of the armed conflict in the interests of its clients and partners.

“The company continues to monitor and analyze repercussions it might have for the industry and relationships that have been built over decades across the world,” it said in an emailed statement.

Alrosa was included on the US Department of the Treasury sanctions list released last week, along with chief executive Sergei S. Ivanov, who is also a board member of Gazprombank. 

David Kellie, chief executive of NDC, said the council understood and respected Alrosa’s decision, given the current geopolitical situation.

“For dozens of years Alrosa has been investing billions of dollars into building and supporting communities around its operations, Kellie said. “We wish the company the quickest resolution of all the difficulties encountered.”

The NDC explained that, in suspending its membership, Alrosa had stepped down from the board and will cease all financial contributions.

Data from the US Treasury shows Alrosa is responsible for 90% of Russia’s diamond production and 28% of global supply. The Russian government owns 33% of the company and another 33% is owned by Sakha, the Russian Republic where the company is headquartered.

Alrosa mined 32.4 million carats last year, with sales topping $4 billion thanks largely due to consumer demand from the US. 

While the full effects of the sanctions on the already undersupplied global rough diamonds market are not yet clear, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has said there was a chance the restrictions could prove counterproductive.

"It is a blow that should hurt Russia but there is a chance that we do more damage to ourselves,” spokesman Tom Neys told Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. “The Russians can easily trade their diamonds with non-EU countries and outside the US.”

The diamond jewelry industry is going into the year with diamond supply at historically low levels, estimated by Bain & Company at 29 million carats in 2021. “Upstream inventories declined ~40%, driven by high demand and slow production recovery, and are near the minimal technical level,” the report stated.

Novelty Cut Diamond Faceted as Iconic Apple Logo. News, 3rd March 2022
Figure 1. This 1.13 ct Fancy yellow diamond resembles the iconic Apple logo. Photo by Diego Sanchez.
A novelty cut 1.13 ct Fancy yellow diamond was recently submitted to the Carlsbad laboratory for color origin and identification service. The diamond was cut in the shape of a bitten apple and bore a striking resemblance to the iconic Apple logo found on Apple Inc. products (figure 1). Standard FTIR absorption spectrum identified it as a type Ia diamond with high nitrogen concentration. Standard UV-Vis spectroscopy revealed the typical UV-Vis absorption spectra of cape diamond, with the N2 (478 nm) and N3 (415.2 nm) defects that are responsible for the fancy yellow color in the “Apple” diamond. 
UAE Emerges as World’s Largest Rough Diamond Trading Hub. News, 3rd March 2022

UAE has surpassed Belgium to take top spot as the biggest rough diamonds trader in the world. Its total diamonds trade grew by 83 per cent between 2020 and 2021, and it traded over $22.8 billion worth of rough diamonds in 2021. Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC stated at the Dubai Diamond Conference, “Having grown to become the rough diamond capital of the world, we understand the importance of listening to the market, adapting, and taking action”. - 

UAE’s rough diamonds exports went up a whopping 98% year-on-year to $12.96 billion in 2021 and jumped 62% from 2019’s figure, according to a recent report from the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). By volume, rough exports climbed 31% to 107.9 million carats. In comparison, Belgium’s rough exports were $11.12 billion for the same period.

Last year, Dubai and DMCC held a series of auctions for rough diamonds. The auctions drew in some heavy bidders, and it has also played a crucial role in UAE's growth in rough diamond trading.

The Enigma Black Diamond | A Rare Cosmic Wonder. News, 25th January 2022

"The Enigma" is a 555.55 carat diamond that GIA laboratory graded Fancy Black in GIA Colored Diamond Identification and Origin Report. This diamond will be placed for auction at Sotheby's on February 3rd. 

Much more than a jewel. A treasure from interstellar space. “The Enigma” is an exquisite and extremely rare black diamond formed billions of years ago. This latest video showcases the 555.55 carat black diamond, offered by Sotheby's (3 – 9 February | London).

This unearthly stone is a carbonado diamond that possibly came from outer space, either created through meteoric impact or brought to Earth by an asteroid.

Unlike most diamonds, carbonado is a naturally occurring polycrystalline diamond material composed of randomly oriented cuboidal microcrystals. It contains non-diamond carbon material that gives it a generally black, gray, or brown appearance. Some data indicates that carbonado is slightly tougher than conventional monocrystalline diamonds.

ALROSA names a diamond after main character Kyndykan in honour of the project supporting indigenous peoples of the Far North. News, 15th December 2021

Kyndykan has become a symbol of the resilience, spiritual strength and unique values of the indigenous peoples of the Far North. The story inspired ALROSA to support a project also named Kyndykan, which aims to draw attention globally to the problem of preserving the traditions and culture of the indigenous peoples.

The Kyndykan diamond has a yellow-brown colour and measures 25х16х22 mm. It was mined in 2021 at one of the alluvial diamond deposits at Diamonds of Anabar, a subsidiary of ALROSA which operates across the vast Arctic territory of Yakutia. The indigenous peoples of the North traditionally inhabited this region. The diamond was found in the Olenyok district, one of the coldest regions in the northern hemisphere.

ALROSA first announced its support for the Kyndykan project in September 2021. This was the latest step in the company’s efforts to preserve the historical values of the indigenous peoples of Yakutia. Since its establishment, ALROSA has been involved in the lives of indigenous peoples, supporting ancestral deer-herding and fishing settlements, training communities in various specialties, creating jobs, providing everything necessary for a fulfilling life, organizing ethnic festivals, and supplying products to remote villages.

Evgeny Agureev, Deputy CEO of ALROSA said: “At ALROSA, we have a great tradition of giving names to newly mined diamonds. On this occasion, we decided to name a diamond mined in the Far North in honour of the little Even heroine Kyndykan and after a wonderful project, which is doing a lot to ensure that voices of indigenous peoples of the North are heard. ALROSA has always admired their resilience and strength of character, rich history and age-old traditions. Our common goal is to preserve all of this for future generations and to tell this story to the world.”

Gemfields introduces its largest high-quality emerald yet – Chipembele, the rhino emerald. News, 23th December 2021

Gemfields is delighted to introduce “Chipembele”, the latest and largest significant gemstone discovered at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia. Naming of uncut emeralds is a tradition reserved only for the most rare and remarkable gems. While no official record exists, it is thought that not more than a couple of dozen gemstones have ever been given their own name, and it is extremely unusual to encounter a gemstone weighing more than 1,000 carats. Weighing 7,525 carats (1,505g), Chipembele – which means ‘rhino’ in the local indigenous dialect of Bemba – has earned a place in this exclusive club, and a name to match. 

The discovery of Chipembele follows Insofu (Bemba for ‘elephant’ – discovered in 2010) and Inkalamu (‘lion’ - 2018), all of which were formed within relatively close proximity at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, which is the world’s single largest producing emerald mine, owned by Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government’s Industrial Development Corporation. 

Chipembele was discovered on 13 July 2021 by geologist Manas Banerjee and Richard Kapeta (who was also the team leader for the discovery of Inkalamu in October 2018) and his team at Kagem. The discovery, they said, “left everyone speechless”. Kapeta shouted in joy, “look at this rhino horn!” And hence, the gemstone found its name. 

Chipembele formed under near perfect conditions, allowing the combination of the elements beryllium, chromium and vanadium to crystalise into large, distinct hexagonal crystal structures with glassy surfaces. 

The recovery of such a large high-quality emerald is extremely rare and was made possible by the skilled Kagem mining team, who practise gentle extraction techniques when mining in areas where emerald mineralisation is present. The rich, golden green hue and gemmy nature of this emerald will be appealing to buyers looking to yield fine quality faceted emeralds after the cutting and polishing process.

Chipembele, largest emerald found in mine in Zambia. News, 15th December 2021
Small lots made up of stones weighing more than 1 g often showed more color variety within a single grade. Photo by Wim Vertriest; courtesy of Fura Gems.

Fura Gems hosted its first sales event for rough Mozambican rubies in August and September 2021. The international gem mining and marketing company has assets in Colombia (emerald), Australia (sapphire), and Mozambique (ruby). After previous sales events for Colombian emeralds in the first months of 2021, the firm now offered its rubies to the trade for the first time. - Gia.edu

Mozambican rubies have been available in the trade since 2009, and the region quickly became one of the most important sources for the red variety of corundum. Fura is only the third company to bring rubies to the trade in a formalized tender. During the first years after the deposit’s discovery in 2009, gems were recovered by artisanal miners and traded locally.

In 2014, the first large-scale sale of Mozambican rubies by an organized mining group took place. During that tender, Gemfields offered nearly two million carats of rough ruby, and they have hosted 14 auctions since then. Mustang Resources hosted a rough ruby tender in 2017, which was not well received by the trade. Fura took over existing ruby mining permits and equipment in Mozambique from various companies, including Mustang Resources, acquiring the largest ruby mining license in the country.

Invited buyers were able to view Fura’s rubies in Jaipur and Bangkok, locations that host the largest colored stone manufacturing industries in the world. Each company was able to view the stones over two days in a secured space. Precautions against COVID-19 included a limited number of attendees per day, which caused the entire event to last more than 24 days across the two locations. This allowed all potential buyers ample time to inspect the rough rubies.