Stories from Sustainable Living

Engagement Season Is Upon Us—Here’s What You Should Know About Sustainable Diamonds

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Well+Good EditorsDecember 19, 2019

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Ahh, cuffing season: While for some it might mean finding the nearest person to act as a human space heater, for others it means getting engaged to their long-term partners and celebrating their commitment (congrats!). Insert the scroll of hand-in-the-foreground-pose photos to show of all that bling here.

And by bling, we mean diamonds. But have you ever stopped mid-scroll to think about where all those diamonds are coming from—or the impact their retrieval might be having on the planet?

“It is increasingly important every day to understand the impact of every purchase on the planet and humanity,” says Alexander Weindling, co-founder and CEO of Great Heights, a diamond-industry disruptor that’s changing the game with lab-grown diamonds. “Diamonds dug from the earth in underdeveloped nations or sucked from the seabed floor by giant vacuums deliver unwarranted and unnecessary disruptions, disturbance, and pain to our planet. We have found a better way.”

Yep, we’re talking sustainable diamonds, which are paving the way with innovative practices to help you make one of your most lasting purchase decisions a more ethical one. So if you’re thinking of tying the knot or showing yourself some love (we’re here for it), it’s time to get real about your rock.

Keep reading for why lab-grown diamonds are about to be a *big* deal—for you and the planet.

lab grown diamonds

So, what’s the difference?

At the simplest level, mined diamonds are found underground and lab-created diamonds are grown, well, above ground in a lab. Other than their origin, according to Great Heights, lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically the same as mined ones (just minus the impact the latter has on the planet).

“Tons and tons of earth must be moved and massive waste created to find one mined diamond,” Weindling says. “It is said that the Mir mine in Siberia is so deep and vast that aircrafts are forbidden to fly over it for fear the vortex we have created will suck them down into its depths.” Are you picturing a post-apocalyptic movie sequence, too?

Instead of digging giant craters into the planet, Great Heights employs a team of highly trained scientists to simulate and accelerate nature’s process by heating a reactor to the temperature of the sun, according to Ryan Bonifacino, co-founder and president of Great Heights.

Price is another factor that sets mined and lab-grown diamonds apart. “Lab-grown diamonds are 30 to 40 percent less expensive than mined diamonds,” Bonifacino says.  “What the diamond industry doesn’t tell you, ever, is that you don’t need to spend that much to accomplish what you want.”

Rather than hooking you up with a salesperson—which Bonifacino notes has a long history of less-than-transparent tactics when it comes to the jewelry business—Great Heights offers a team of diamond experts with multi-generational experience for you to chat through the pros and cons. One pro? On top of skipping the whole damaging-entire-ecosystems thing, “I think we’ve helped [people afford] a lot of down payments on houses and outrageous honeymoons,” says Weindling.

Hello, eco-friendly (and people-friendly) payoffs

A giant issue with mined diamonds, of course, is where they’re dug up, but a lot of retailers still claim they aren’t coming from problematic places. But, says Weindling, “There is no 100 percent sure-proof way to know if your mined diamond comes from a conflict zone or involved human exploitation.” Opting for lab-grown takes out the guess factor.

Another bonus point for lab-grown diamonds is that there’s no water or rock waste created and no environmental contaminants left behind, according to Weindling. For a visual, he suggests taking a peek at the Snap Lake mine in Canada and the abandoned mines in western Australia—these mines were created for a short-term purpose, but are left for years (and years) to come.

So if you’re really considering your diamond to be forever, why not make sure it’s an eco-friendly one? “Since the industrial revolution we have treated the earth as an inexhaustible resource,” says Weindling. “It is time to choose to be on the right side of history.” Welcome to the (ethical) bling ring.

Sponsored by Great Heights

Photos: Great Heights

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