Synthetic-diamond producers often make spurious claims to environmental friendliness, but unlike publicly-listed diamond miners, they are under no obligation to disclose any information. In fact, an independent report by Trucost called “The Socioeconomic and Environmental Impact of Large-Scale Diamond Mining” revealed that producing a carat of lab-grown diamond likely results in more than double the carbon emissions of an equivalent mined diamond. Nonetheless, encouraged by deceptive advertising campaigns, some young consumers opt for synthetic diamonds because of their supposedly smaller carbon footprint, which is anything but certain.
Now, while the reportedly smaller environmental impact of diamond mining has been called into question, we note that significant efforts are being made to lower its impact and to rehabilitate mines at the end of their lives. Yet even if we were to set the environmental issue aside, it is still the case that the press overwhelming touts the ethical superiority of synthetic diamonds. This is thoroughly misguided, inasmuch as it all but ignores the enormous positive impact that diamonds have on producing countries. Indeed, we would argue that the tremendous socio-economic benefits that result from natural diamonds outweigh or offset any environmental consequences of diamond mining.
The same Trucost study found that the major diamond miners in 2016 created $16 billion in net benefits, 60% of which flowed directly back to local communities. Their workers were paid nearly five times the living wage in their country and they employed 77,000 people. Across the world, the diamond industry supports the livelihood of 10 million people, including 1.5 million artisanal and small-scale miners and their families in Africa and South America, and some 600,000 people in India. This is even more significant when one realizes that diamonds are typically mined in some of the world’s most inhospitable regions – from the NWT in Canada to the Siberian tundra and the deserts of South Africa – with few other employment options for the local population. The most remarkable success story is Botswana.
According to the World Bank, when Botswana gained independence in 1966, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of only $70 a year! In 1967, De Beers discovered the Orapa mine, and the rest is history. Today Botswana is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, with free health care, free education and a per capita income of nearly $20,000. Diamonds represent 88% of the country’s total exports and 20% of its GDP. No similar success story is attached to the production of synthetic diamonds, which contribute only to the bottom line of a few wealthy investors in the factories that produce them.
In conclusion, whether your motivation is economic, emotional or societal, the only real option is to buy natural diamonds. We at BNT Diamonds believe strongly in the enduring value of natural diamonds, and on this we will never compromise.