Growing Diamonds, Saving the Planet
July 21, 22
There was much excitement last month when Lusix announced a $90m funding round, not least because LVMH was among the investors. The French luxury conglomerate now owns the iconic US jeweler Tiffany & Co. Lusix makes lab-grown diamonds. Tiffany has made its position clear on lab-growns, namely that it sees no role for them in a luxury brand. So the fact that its investment arm was joining the rush to be a part of Lusix's success raised some eyebrows.
But that's a discussion for another time. What I find no less interesting is a detail that emerged in a subsequent conversation I had with Lusix CEO Dr Silviu Reinhorn about how the company uses nothing but solar power to create its diamonds. More than that, I discovered, Lusix actually generates surplus power that it puts into the grid for ordinary consumers.
"We are actually carbon neutral or even carbon negative, since we generate more solar power than we consume," he said. The company has a 30-megawatt solar farm in southern Israel that provides all its power - roughly equivalent to the demand from 5,000 homes. Its factory runs 24 hours a day and there are peaks and troughs in its own requirements, but overall it is putting more into the national grid than it takes out.
"All the companies that claim they are carbon neutral. It means they pay some institute to grow trees in South America and by that they become carbon neutral," said Dr Reinhorn. "We have allocated a dedicated solar plant near the Gaza strip where electrical power output is dedicated to Lusix and with that we power our current facility and also our future facility with solar power."
Lusix, which markets its wares as Sun Grown Diamonds, was certified last August by SCS Global Services, a third-party sustainability verification authority. It may be the only lab grown company able to claim 100 per cent of its power is solar, but there are others competing in the sustainability stakes.
Diamond Foundry, the Silicon Valley startup, now crystallizes methane, the greenhouse gas, into diamonds and announced in April that it had "moved Beyond Carbon Neutral". Martin Roscheisen, CEO, said: "When I look at the blue sky, I see greenhouse gas and a future diamond," said. "It took us years to prove it at scale but Rihanna was exactly right: Diamonds are in the sky." In Britain, "zero-impact" Sky Diamonds uses wind and solar electricity, and water collected from rainfall to power its "sky mining facility".
All three companies have one thing in common - big-money backers with a clear sustainability agenda. Lusix was founded by serial entrepreneur and inventor Benny Landa, the "father of commercial digital printing" who sold his company Indigo to HP for $830m. Diamond Foundry was set up with actor Leonardo di Caprio among its high-profile investors, plus 10 billionaires. And the man behind Sky Diamonds is Dale Vince, New Age traveller turned green energy millionaire and owner of the country's first vegan football club.
This isn't an exhaustive list of carbon-neutral lab grown diamond producers. I should also mention Latitude, a division of WD Lab Grown Diamonds. Last June it became the world's first lab grown producer to be certified as carbon-neutral by SCS Global. But there aren't that many more to add to the list. It should be longer. And it should be broader.
Have a fabulous weekend.