Guest Post: The Reality of Conflict Free Diamonds by Anna Mieke Anderson, MiaDonna and The Greener Diamond

We know that our planet is capable of creating beautiful things and diamonds and gold are some of them. We believe that the Earth doesn’t need to be harmed in order for us to enjoy the beauty of diamonds. We believe that technology is our friend. We believe in recycling what we have already extracted from the Earth.

The Earth is precious.

The MiaDonna story started in 2005 when a 7 year old boy named Ponpon living in an African diamond mining community told me, “I had a great summer because only one of my classmates was killed.” Those words changed my life forever. I realised that my diamond engagement ring that represented love most likely orphaned children just as I was on bed rest during pregnancy. I took off my ring and started to sponsor Ponpon who had spoken those resounding words that changed my life.

Diamond consumers need to know that conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are still a problem in today’s society.

In order to save more children, I started a movement to bring awareness to the corruption of Earth mined diamonds. At the same time, I worked with scientists to grow a truly conflict free diamond in a lab to fund the foundation I had started, The Greener Diamond. MiaDonna and The Greener Diamond were created together, to work as a system, toward the common goal of eliminating the demand for conflict diamonds.

But I don’t just write cheques, I have visited these war torn areas and experienced the fear that these children face daily. I made my own way as an entrepreneur and woman in the ‘boys club’ of the diamond industry even though it wasn’t simple, I was often being ignored, then sued, ostracised and belittled.

“Dirty diamonds” are being certified by the Kimberley Process and sold in markets around the world as “conflict free” diamonds.

Over the past six years, it is estimated that 60 million carats of confirmed conflict diamonds hit the international diamond market. Diamonds mined in African countries like Zimbabwe are associated with the killing, raping and maiming of hundreds of artisanal miners, even though they are considered “conflict free” under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, solely because the diamonds mined do not fund armed forces, even if human rights were violated.

Lab grown diamonds have seven times less the environmental impact than diamonds mined from the Earth.

The environmental factors make you want to cringe. Large mines both gold and diamond are deep, gaping holes that leave irreparable damage to the Earth’s surface, some of which can even be seen from space. Once a mine has run out of what the Earth has produced, it is abandoned. Mining displaces communities, contaminates drinking water, leaves a long lasting scar on landscapes and communities and contaminates ecosystems with toxic waste which results in widespread water pollution.

Our diamonds are grown in a lab. These are real diamonds; optically, chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds. We just mimic the natural growing process of a diamond in a lab environment. It’s kind of like getting ice from your freezer versus a glacier. They are also made from a purer form of carbon. This makes them harder and shine brighter than 98% of mined diamonds on the market because they are all Type lla diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds are free of negative environmental and humanitarian abuses and cost up to 40% less than traditionally mined diamonds.

Our lab grown diamonds are made from what is commonly called a diamond seed. In the very early days of the lab grown diamond industry, Earth mined diamonds were used in the production of lab created diamonds. With the improvements in technology for creating diamonds, we no longer use Earth mined diamonds in the making of our lab grown diamonds. The diamond seed is made up of graphite and a proprietary mix of other minerals. Just like an Earth mined diamond, each seed is made of a repeating lattice of carbon atoms which build up into the diamond rough using HPHT or CVD growing processes.

No new earth is dug up for the purpose of our jewellery.

Though lab grown diamonds create around 26 pounds of carbon emissions per carat, this is much less compared to Earth mined diamonds which come in at an estimated 143 pounds of carbon emissions per carat. We understand that 0 pounds would be ideal so in order to offset our carbon emissions, we plant a tree for every purchase made with One Tree Planted. We recently planted 500 trees in Oregon. We use recycled metals, used in prior jewellery or melted down scraps that are saved for the specific use of fine jewellery and all our settings are manufactured in New York City.

We are proud of our solution and impact.

MiaDonna’s fine jewellery line does not hurt the environment or humanity and our foundation, The Greener Diamond, returns profits to the communities that have been damaged by the conflict diamond trade. At least five percent of the profits from every purchase have been used to fund educational, mentoring, agricultural and urgent relief programmes to help restore the land and lives impacted by the illegal trade of conflict diamonds.

In 2017 we donated 22% of our profits as we are currently working on an agricultural training centre in Liberia, Africa. The Greener Diamond Agricultural Training Centre is set to open in April 2019. We will be training and be employing up to 100 people in a two year curriculum. Once they graduate, they will be leaving with a new set of skills along with a microloan to start their own farm.

As a shopper, you have the choice to buy ethically.

As a consumer, you can become educated and vote with your money. When buying jewellery of any kind, ask where it was sourced: What is the origin of the diamond? What is the origin of the gold? Was it responsibly sourced? Learn if and how the jeweller is going beyond the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to ensure that they are providing conflict free jewellery. Jewellers should be able to confidently answer these questions for you.

We can positively change the lives and lands affected by the conflict diamond trade and build a more sustainable path for the diamond industry.

Our mission is to create the highest quality and most beautiful eco friendly fine jewellery available. By providing consumers an affordable mined diamond alternative, we are able to help repair the land and lives damaged by the unethical conflict diamond industry.

Anna-Mieke Anderson is the CEO and Founder of MiaDonna and Company, a mother and consumer turned philanthropist and entrepreneur. In 2006, Anna-Mieke had the vision to create a conflict free diamond and has led the evolution of the lab grown diamond industry.