two companies are selling diamonds made in a laboratory from CO2 that once circled the Earth.
Each carat of a diamond removes 20 tons of CO2. That, he said, is more invisible gas than the average person produces in a year.
With the purchase of a 2-carat diamond, Shearman pointed out, “you’re essentially offsetting 2 ½ years of your life.”
It can take Mother Nature as long as a billion years to make diamonds, which are formed in rocks. But as Shearman explained in an interview with E&E News, he has developed a patent-pending process that can make a batch of diamonds in a laboratory in four weeks.
Unlike other laboratory-made diamonds, his process starts with CO2 removed from the air. The gas undergoes a chemical reaction where it is subjected to high pressure and extremely high temperatures. All of this is created using solar, wind or hydraulic power.
Aether has been selling its diamonds since the beginning of the year at prices ranging from $7,000 for a ring to around $40,000 for earrings with sparkling stone arrangements.
Aether has a competitor, a British company called Skydiamond founded by Dale Vince, an entrepreneur and self-styled environmentalist who says he spent five years researching how to make what he calls the world’s first “zero-impact diamonds.”
Vince takes frequent potshots at the traditional diamond industry, noting that it has a history of using child labor and underpaid women. He also points to diamond mines that have scarred the Earth and damaged wildlife. He argues that a lack of regulations has fostered civil wars in Africa that can be funded by smuggled stones sometimes called “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds.”
In 1954, an American chemist, Tracy Hall, invented an alternative to natural stones: the first diamonds made in a laboratory. He worked for General Electric Co. and used a reactor combined with a press to subject powdered carbon to high temperatures and pressures.
The result was diamond crystals made within a few weeks. It eventually led to a new industry that manufactured “laboratory diamonds” using two competing methods. Both required a lot of energy.
According to Shearman, the CO2 is sent to a facility in Europe where it is converted into methane. That is sent to a reactor in Chicago, where pressure and heat fueled by renewable energy convert it into diamonds.
Climeworks has gone on to make a business out of accepting donations of CO2 from various sources and, for a fee, injecting it into a rock formation near a power plant in Iceland. Once it’s underground, the gas is mixed with water, and it will turn into stone in two years. The company is building a pilot plant called Orca that is designed to bury 4,000 tons of CO2 each year.
So far, over 3,000 companies and individuals from 52 countries have made contributions in exchange for a certificate showing that they have permanently stored CO2 underground