Why Lab Grown Diamonds are Vegan and Mined Diamonds are Not Vegan
Are lab diamonds vegan?
By utilizing grown diamonds instead of mined diamonds Ada can ensure that there is little to no harm to ecosystems, wildlife or communities in the creation of our diamonds.
Laboratory-Grown diamonds are grown from small amounts of carbon. Graphite or purified natural gas are the two sources of carbon typically used to grow diamonds. Both graphite and natural gas are abundantly available and significantly less invasive and energy intensive to extract from the Earth compared to mining diamonds. Approximately one gram of graphite is required to grow a 1 carat diamond.
Very little water is needed to create cultured diamonds. The only water required is for cooling systems and can be used for years in a closed loop system
It requires approximately 750 kilowatt hours of electricity to grow a 1 carat diamond. That same amount of electricity could power the average US household for 25 days or allow you to drive a Tesla Model S approximately 2,000 miles.
Some diamonds sold by Ada are grown using renewable energy, and many of Ada’s suppliers of diamonds are actively building diamond production facilities that utilize wind, solar, or hydropower to grow diamonds.
Diamond producing equipment requires square feet of space, not square miles required to mine diamonds. Diamonds are grown around the world in existing industrial spaces.
In addition to exclusively using cultivated diamonds, Ada Diamonds is very conscientious in our precious metal sourcing. We are working toward using 100% recycled materials in all of our jewelry, and guarantee that all of our earth-extracted gold and platinum has been mined sustainably and responsibly. Read more about Ada's responsible sourcing policies.
Why Mined Diamonds are Not Vegan
There are four types of diamond mining and all have direct impact on wildlife and watersheds.
#1) Open Pit Mining of Kimberlite Pipes
In open-pit mining, diamond-containing Kimberlite pipes are mined to extract the diamonds. Because these volcanic pipes extend deep into the Earth, they are found in the ground beneath vegetation, lakes, rivers, and other overburden that must be removed to extract the diamonds.
This means that large quantities of waste rock, sand, and soil will be accumulated in the immediate vicinity a diamonds mine. For the prototypical 1 carat diamond extracted from a diamond mine tonnes of Earth must be blasted and extracted by diesel-powered heavy equipment.
In India, a new diamond mine will require the cutting down of 492,000 trees over 1,000 hectares of pristine forest, destroying a migratory corridor for the endangered Bengal Tiger.
In addition to destroying the tiger migratory corridor, many rare and endangered species of wild animals, such as Leopard, Cheetal, Chinkara, Chausinga, and Peacock, are found in the 1,000 hectares of forest that must be destroyed to mine the 34 million carats of diamonds.
In Canada, approximately 20 lakes have been drained in order to extract diamonds beneath the lakes, killing the aquatic life in the lakes. Furthermore, rivers have been re-routed and lakes, such as Snap Lake, have been turned from pristine arctic lakes into salty, brackish water high in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) due to the emissions of mining discharge into the aquatic system.
Furthermore, the mining of Kimberlite pipes surfaces toxic and radioactive materials that then enter water supplies and the local ecosphere, negatively impacting aquatic and land-based animals. For example, the Ekati mine in Canada pollutes the following materials into the local ecosphere, including Sulphate, Ammonia, Arsenic, Cadmium, Strontium, and Uranium.
Diamond mine related increases of selenium and antimony have been detected in fish tissues downstream of the Ekati mine.
The Marange Diamond Mines in Eastern Zimbabwe have been documented to be emitting carcinogens, heavy metals, and other chemical pollutants into the Odzi and then Savé Rivers.
The polluted waters pass through the Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC), home to lions, buffalo, leopard, elephant, rare African Painted Dogs and one of Africa's largest populations of rhinos. Thus, critically endangered wildlife in the Savé Valley may be exposed to heavy metals above the limits established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Furthermore, cattle drinking water downstream of the Marange Diamond Mines have been dying according to local residents and leaders of civic organizations. Residents who have bathed in the river have reported rashes and other skin ailments and have grown ill after drinking river water. (Source: Yale)
#2) Artisanal Mining of Alluvial Diamond Deposits
Over eons of time, the natural erosion of diamond-containing land has washed soil and diamonds downstream, leaving diamonds in riverbanks which are then extracted by artisanal mining methods.
Artisanal mining of diamonds in Africa is carried out by people working with simple tools and equipment, usually in the informal sector, outside much of the legal and regulatory framework. The vast majority of the diggers are very poor, exploiting marginal deposits in harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions – and having considerable negative impact on the environment. (Source: Diamond Development Initiative)
The environmental impacts of artisanal diamond mining are often mentioned in a general sense, though only one rigorous study has been published by South Africa Water Research Commission (Heath. 2004). The study examined multiple types of mining and used several indices to assess the impact of artisanal diamond mining, especially on water resources.
The study noted numerous environmental and animal impacts, including:
destruction of spawning habitat of fish and macroinvertebrates
leaks of oils and chemicals from equipment and large tracts of land becoming a safety hazard for people and livestock
acid mine drainage
release of toxic metal ions
alteration of river flows, excavation of sediments exposing them to oxidation
suspended sediments (increased turbidity) as a result of accelerated erosion
wind-blown dust from unprotected tailings
soil erosion of arable land
#3) Coastal and Inland Alluvial Mining
When diamond deposits are found in coastal areas, mining companies must remove soil and destroy plant life before they begin mining. Mining of beaches can also require the construction of sea-walls and large-scale excavation along coastal areas and modification of the land.
This destruction of plant life and permanent modification to the land can have significant negative effects on local wildlife.
#4) Ocean Floor Mining
After De Beers exhausted the diamonds on the beaches of Namibia they have begun to strip mining the ocean floor with a machine that they call ‘The Butcher,’ which butchers 60 tonnes of seafloor per hour. This strip mining destroys large swaths of the ocean floor, with potentially decades-long effects on marine life.
“They are clearly trashing areas and killing a whole load of animals but I don’t think it’s a threat to that ecosystem because it’s thousands of times larger than the area that’s being impacted,” said professor Charles Griffiths, a marine biologist from the University of Cape’s Department of Biological Sciences who monitors De Beers ocean mining operations.
Unfortunately, the rate of butchering of the seafloor to find diamonds is only accelerating as more strip mining vessels come online and more mining licenses are granted.