An English football club owner and leading environmentalist is targeting success in the jewellery sector with a business that develops eco-friendly diamonds by sucking carbon out of the air.
Dale Vince, who is chairman of Division 2 side Forest Green Rovers – the only ‘vegan’ football club in the country – is aiming for the stars with a venture called Sky Diamonds, which uses a “sky mining facility” in Gloucestershire to pull carbon out of the atmosphere to form the gemstones.
The site uses wind and solar electricity, with water collected from rainfall.
Mr Vince, who also set up green energy firm Ecotricity, says the process challenges traditional diamond mining, which causes damage to the planet.
His team has reportedly spent more than five years perfecting the technique, creating lab-grown diamonds that are physically and chemically identical to Earth-mined diamonds.
The diamonds, which are certified by the International Gemological Institute, take a couple of weeks to be made. It is understood that the site will be able to produce 200 carats of diamonds a month once they are available for sale in 2021, but it could be scaled five-fold within the next year.
“The entire ingredient list comes from the sky and it’s not just low or zero carbon, it’s actually negative carbon in that respect, because we’re locking up atmospheric carbon into a very permanent form of carbon: the diamond,” Mr Vince told the BBC.
“We no longer need to dig these enormous holes in the ground – they’re visible from space, some of them. We don’t need to do that to get diamonds, we can just make them from the sky.”
Mr Vince said the concept was “21st century technology” and the exact kind of thing that needed to be done to fight the climate and other sustainability crises.
Mr Vince told the Guardian newspaper that Sky Diamonds uses the chemical vapour deposition process, which typically involves placing a “diamond seed” within a sealed chamber, or “diamond mill”. It is then heated to 800°C and filled with carbon-rich methane gas.
The carbon elements will gradually bond with the “seed” to create a diamond “anatomically identical” to a stone that has taken billions of years to grow underground.