What began in 1970 with 10% of the American people at the time taking to the streets to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet is, today, recognized as one of the planet’s largest civic events. Any talk about the environment inevitability leads to re-examining our role in it. And thankfully, more than ever, the focus these days is on a far more sustainable way of living and consuming; on a way of being that is in complete harmony with Mother Nature, with Planet Earth. And at the same time, we could also reflect on something that has its very being inside the bosom of the Earth. Something that reaches us after spending millions of years cradled there and is as interlinked with the Earth as is possible. We’re talking about diamonds. Natural diamonds, to be precise. Intrigued? Read on.
Diamonds are Eternal
Natural diamonds are amongst the oldest and definitely the hardest naturally occurring substances known to humankind. Formed over three billion years ago, with intense pressure and high temperature deep in the Earth’s mantle, a natural diamond is the epitome of good things coming to those who wait. Their unique chemical composition also means that they can last forever and yet remain in vogue due to their eternal sparkle and versatility.
A natural diamond never goes out of style. If you’ve had a classic piece of diamond jewellery passed down through generations in your family, you would know. Your grandma’s natural diamond can retain its aura, and still be all you—whether through a different setting, style, attire, you name it! And yes, your grandkids will one day be saying the same thing. With a natural diamond, old is always new.
Diamonds Do Good
The natural diamond mining industry has worked in tandem with the needs and demands of the resources it works with, both human and natural. As a result, these diamonds do good in a variety of ways.
For the environment: Leading natural diamond mining companies are committed to safeguarding the environment and to ensuring sustainable management of precious natural resources. Land-based diamond recovery is one of the cleanest forms of mining and is almost entirely reliant on mechanical processes due to the softness of the kimberlite rock where the diamonds can be found. 99% of the waste produced by mining operations is rock. This waste material is disposed of on-site and is eventually reclaimed as part of the landscape during the mine closure and rehabilitation process.*
There’s more. 83% of the water used in the mining process is recycled. The industry is aiming to move towards a carbon-neutral future, with increased use of renewable energy sources in various mines, as well as by studying how to capture carbon dioxide within the rock to offset all emissions through mining.
Even with regards to the land, the world’s leading natural diamond producers have a relatively small footprint due to the compact size of their mining operations. These companies collectively protect more than 2,60,000 hectares—or 2,590 square kilometres—of natural land in Russia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Australia, and Canada. This protected land amounts to three times the land they use for mining globally. Long-term biodiversity conservation programs have also been implemented to ensure, among other things, that the land is safe for wildlife and people once mining is complete.
For healthcare: From fatigue management and occupational illness to critical fatality risks, natural diamond mining member companies have covered the entire gamut of health and safety programmes. Initiatives also include local community support such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria prevention programmes. Primary healthcare is provided to all the mineworkers, as well as their families, at a subsidized cost.
For communities:Natural diamonds end up doing a lot of good for communities all over the world. And the figures speak for themselves. Consider this, natural diamond mining companies provide over $16 billion in total net benefit contributions, with $4 billion going towards salaries and benefits. In fact, these companies pay 4.8 times the living wage paid to the average worker. 60% of the value created is being retained locally, benefiting communities, both, directly and indirectly.
More than individuals, families, and communities, diamond mining can sometimes also transform the fortunes of a whole nation. Take Botswana, for instance. From being one of the poorest countries in the world, Botswana harnessed the power of its diamond resources and has today become one of the globe’s great development success stories.
In India, as Gujarat seemed to be headed towards its most serious water crisis in history, the state’s major diamond companies stepped in. One of them set about creating three massive ponds, the largest of their kind in Gujarat. A year on, about 40,000 people in 20 different villages across over 17,000 hectares of land now have access to an adequate supply of freshwater, with several more untold benefits.
So you see, natural diamonds don’t just exude an aura; they also come with a conscience. And then there’s the small matter of their versatility and timelessness. These beauties are for every generation, occasion, and setting—as heirlooms or memory makers, as style statements or friends of the Earth. The list goes on. So while the world asks you to stop, slow down and reflect on Environment Day, look no further. Especially when it comes to conscious luxury. Why? Because there’s no better showstopper than a diamond, naturally!
*analysis conducted by Trucost, part of S&P Global, based on 2016/2017 data.