Diamonds From The Sky — Made Real by Aether
Yes, diamonds - in the form of CO2.
By Matt Morris
Featured on arguably one of the greatest albums of all time in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was way ahead of its time, noticing that there may actually be diamonds in the sky.
Yes, diamonds- in the form of CO2.
The concentration of the toxic greenhouse gas carbon dioxide currently sits at an alarming 415 parts per million, the highest it has ever been. Without innovative companies from across every sector of industry working to mitigate and remove CO2 from the atmosphere, we’re in deep trouble.¹
And why not make it beautiful? Why not make it diamonds from the sky? ? Enter Aether Diamonds: the first carbon-negative luxury diamond jeweler to create diamonds out of thin air. Each diamond created by Aether permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With $1.3M in pre-orders in the first month since launch, Aether is on track to remove 1 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration and carbon offset projects.
But Why Diamonds?
The $13.9B diamond industry is one that has historically been plagued with ethical and environmental issues. Stained by blood through armed conflicts in diamond-rich regions that perpetuated further war, the diamond industry has a controversial past of grueling labor conditions and human rights violations. On top of this, the diamond industry also produces 16 gigatons of CO2 annually while ruining the land diamond mines exploit. Diamond mines rip away and contaminate the topsoil necessary for the growth of fertile lands. This unusable dirt gets whipped up into the air and waterways, polluting the very resources we need to live.
Some strides have been made in the industry to prevent further ethical atrocities, such as the Kimberly Process (KP) which creates transparency in the trade of rough diamonds. Enacted in 2003, KP certifies that each diamond comes from a mine that is not sold by a rebel group or their allies.² However, there are still loopholes where some conflict diamonds, often called blood diamonds, can fall through the cracks.
Yet, while the mined diamond industry may be trying to correct for its previous human rights atrocities, very little is being done for the environment. With almost 150 million carats of diamond procured from the earth per year, a significant amount of physical ground has to be moved. To put it in perspective, 1 ton of rocks hold .5 carats (1 carat = 0.2 grams). This equates to 300 MILLION TONS of earth moved each year to get these precious stones out of the ground. As one can imagine, that has serious effects on the environment around it. The process of moving diamond-rich ore ruins the land where mine exists, spoiling once fertile topsoil and sending pollutants into the air and waterways.
To alleviate the environmental and human pains inflicted by the diamond industries, methods of synthesizing diamonds from carbon have been developed to fulfill the needs for several applications of this precious stone, including in jewelry.
How does it work?
To make carbon-negative diamonds, CO2 must first be captured from the air. Using direct air capture technology, most commonly seen as giant fans sucking in air, CO2 is captured in a membrane and then filtered out to create a pure stream. From there, multiple steps are taken to convert this pure CO2 into a usable hydrocarbon feedstock that can then be used to completely separate out carbon from the gas. From there, this gas then must be further purified to remove any air or other gaseous impurities that may contaminate the soon-to-be diamond.
Lastly, high-purity carbon feedstock streams enter the reactor and cloak a small diamond seed in gas. Over the course of 3–4 weeks, a diamond grows. This process is known as chemical vapor deposition, in which the material is subject to a specific temperature, pressure, and concentration variables that create the finished product. Change any parameter, and the product you get is different from the previous setting. For Aether, this ensures that their lab-grown diamonds are unique, and cannot be copied exactly.
While these stones are lab-grown, they are atomically identical to those that you would get out of the ground but are instead grown to perfection every time. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission ruled in February 2018 that lab-grown diamonds could call the stones what they truly are: a diamond.³ This affirms the legitimacy of the product and allows LGD manufacturers to separate themselves from the mined diamond vertical.
How are Aether’s diamonds different from other lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are generally made from one of two methods: high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD). HPHT is an expensive, energy-intensive process that uses extreme conditions to recreate the environments that created diamonds in the Earth’s crust. This process is best used for small stones, where the conditions can be closely monitored, as the method is ripe for impurities to seep into the system.
CVD is better for the creation of larger stones of at least one carat. This is a significantly cheaper method to growing diamonds than HPHT, but it also takes time, and the inputs must be exact to get the correct geometry and uniformity of the crystal.
Under either scenario, most of these manufacturers use natural gas to make their diamonds, as methane is a common feedstock that can be used to easily procure pure carbon. On the downside, natural gas production is environmentally toxic. Therefore, using natural gas still creates a carbon footprint. Additionally, electricity is consumed in all parts of the process, also creating more carbon emissions as a result.
Instead, Aether sources carbon from the air alongside renewable energy sources to feed their entire operation. This means all of the diamonds created in Aether’s process sequester carbon from the air permanently. Additionally, each of Aether’s diamonds is certified by the International Gemological Institute, ensuring the quality of the finished diamond.
Where did you get that?
Combining Aether’s proprietary technology for making their own diamonds with a team full of experienced scientists and high-end jewelry leaders, Aether has created their own line of eco-friendly, carbon-negative luxury diamond jewelry.
Aether’s product line features earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and engagement rings. These rings feature beautiful, precision cut diamonds between 1 and 2 carats, with several smaller stones embedded into 18k gold. Each ring of Aether’s main product line fine-tuned to the wearer’s taste and for the occasion by choosing the size of the main stone (1, 1.5, or 2 carats), the color of the gold band (standard, rose, or white), and the cut of the diamond (round, cushion, emerald, oval, or pear).
Each of these diamonds is made from thin air and allows every person who wears Aether’s jewelry to be a part of the fight against climate change and have a way to prove it too.
The Luxury Jewelry Market
Consumers are looking for an ecological and ethical change, and lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) are on the rise. In 2018, 51% of consumers were already aware that LGDs existed, 65% of whom were from the 72.2M-strong millennial demographic in the US alone. With the luxury jewelry market that sits at $80B annual with a CAGR of 8%, there is a lot of space to capture. Combined with the downsizing of several mines by industry leaders like Argyle in Australia as extraction costs become increasingly expensive, there could not be a better time for Aether Diamonds to make its sparkling debut. In a 2019 market report published by Bain, the LGD market is growing 15% and 20% over the last two years and is expected to make up 3% of all new diamonds by 2023.⁴ 68% of consumers say they would choose an LGD over a natural diamond engagement ring.⁵
The diamond jewelry industry is a high margin industry as well, with most luxury jewelry retailers netting gross profit margins of over 40%. Given that carbon capture is currently an expensive process, ranging from $30–100 per ton of carbon dioxide from point-source capture, and $400–700 for direct-air capture, the high margin business makes it easier to sequence carbon in an economical way.
CEO Ryan Shearman is an industry veteran experienced in developing new materials for luxury jewelry. Ryan is also a two-time founder and entrepreneur. COO Dan Wojno is another industry leader and veteran, serving as the head of operations and quality assurance at luxury and high-profile jewelers. CTO Anthony Ippolito is a chemical and process engineer skilled in methanation hardware design.
Aether is raising $1.75M in seed funding with over $1.675M committed thus far. The startup has raised capital from Alpha Bridge Ventures, Awesome People Ventures, Ketch Ventures, and Social Impact Capital. If you are interested in joining Vectors Angel syndicate for Aether, please contact Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Annual CO2 Emissions; CO2.earth
 US Department of State; Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberly Process, https://www.state.gov/conflict-diamonds-and-the-kimberley-process/#:~:text=The%20Kimberley%20Process%20(KP)%20is,fund%20conflict%20against%20legitimate%20governments.
 Federal Trade Commission; Jewelry Guides: Statement of Basis and Purpose (August 8, 2018) https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/1393857/g71001_jewelry_guides_statement_of_basis_and_purpose_final_8-8-18.pdf
 Bain & Co; Global Diamond Report 2019 https://www.bain.com/contentassets/e225bceffd7a48b5b450837adbbfee88/bain_report_global_diamond_report_2019.pdf
 IDGA: A Diamond Choice 2019: Lab Grown Diamonds and the Future of the Diamond Industry