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How laboratory-grown diamonds involve mining.

by Julia Griffith FGA DGA EG


This article challenges the belief that laboratory-grown diamonds are ’sustainable’ products based on the narrative that they ‘do not involve mining’.

Cheremshansky Nickel Mine.jpg

Cheremshansky Nickel Mine.

Laboratory-grown diamonds are made - not mined. Thus, it is often concluded that there is no mining involved in the creation of laboratory-grown diamonds. Let’s explore this…

Many laboratory-grown diamonds are marketed as 'green', 'ethical', 'eco-friendly', and 'sustainable' based on the fact that they are not mined.


This generalisation is false. Most laboratory-grown diamond involve mining to some degree.

HPHT lab grown diamond crystals by the gema academy julia griffith.jpg

HPHT laboratory-grown diamond crystals.

Raw materials are needed to create laboratory-grown diamonds. Minerals, metals, and gases are the main ingredients for creation. These derive from mining.


The truth about this is hidden behind the creation process of laboratory-grown diamonds. Many do not consider the processes that  occur before the laboratory-grown diamond is created.


This impacts the information shared about laboratory-grown diamonds. Unfortunately, it results in a significant amount of 'greenwashing' and misinformation.


This is not to say laboratory-grown diamonds are bad, or that none of them are sustainable, or even that natural diamonds are better.


The purpose of this article is to address this particular inaccuracy - the sustainability claims surrounding laboratory-grown diamonds based on a lack of mining are often untrue.

Important note: Some laboratory-grown diamond producers make tremendous efforts towards sustainable practices in their business. I've included a list of such producers at the end of this article.

Green Claims: Claims that show how a product,... brand or business provides a benefit or is less harmful to the environment... They do this through a range of methods such as: statements, symbols, emblems, logos, graphics, colours and product brand names.'

- Green Claims Code


"Greenwashing:  making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do." - Investopedia

2ct HPHT lab grown diamond by the gem academy.jpg

HPHT laboratory-grown diamond.

How are laboratory-grown diamonds
NOT sustainable?

Energy sources are often considered when discussing the creation of laboratory-grown diamond.​ These can be immense and electricity can be rooted in non-renewable sources such as coal.

Though a worthy consideration, this will not be the focus of this article. Instead, we will be focusing on the raw materials required to make laboratory-grown diamonds.​ Most of these ingredients are from natural resources and are non-renewable.


There are two main methods for creating laboratory-grown diamonds: HPHT and CVD synthesis (Learn more about these creation processes here). These growth processes are completely different from one another and require different ingredients. 


Let’s look at these separately.

HPHT lab grown diamond synthesis diagram showing raw materials and ingredients graphite me

Some of the main ingredients in HPHT laboratory-grown diamond synthesis.

CVD lab grown diamond synthesis diagram showing raw materials hydrogen and methane where t

The two main ingredients in CVD laboratory-grown diamond synthesis.

Where do the ingredients come from?

The ingredients used to make laboratory-grown diamonds are sourced from all over the world. Common localities for the main ingredients in HPHT synthesis; graphite, nickel, iron, cobalt, and pyrophyllite, are listed below.

HPHT lab grown diamond synthesis diagram showing mining raw materials locality by the gem

Biggest producers for the main ingredients in HPHT laboratory-grown diamond synthesis.

Pipelines of diamond and laboratory-grown diamonds

Mining occurs after natural diamonds form. For laboratory-grown diamond – it occurs before. 


The pipeline for diamonds starts at the mine, goes through crushing and concentration, through to sorting and rough dealers and sent to cutters. 

The pipeline for laboratory-grown diamonds starts with the ingredients, which must be transported to a single location to get made into laboratory-grown diamonds. Then they go through a similar process to natural diamonds with sorting and cutting.

​EXCEPTION: A couple of producers make laboratory-grown diamonds with no ingredients coming from mining at all (e.g. Sky diamonds). They are certainly the exception to what is being discussed in this article and the minority amongst laboratory-grown diamond producers.

HPHT lab grown diamond synthesis diagram showing raw materials process and pipeline by the

The first part of the pipeline in HPHT laboratory-grown diamond synthesis.

CVD lab grown diamond synthesis diagram showing raw materials process and pipeline by the

The first part of the pipeline  in CVD laboratory-grown diamond synthesis.

The problem with greenwashing

Greenwashing products is unfair to consumers. They are restricted of making a well-informed choice.


Companies that try their best to act responsibly are also affected as their efforts are diluted by the false claims of others.

Critically, it can be unfair to those in the supply chains - particularly those at the mine. Some mining setups are flawed. It can be the same with diamonds.


How can we be aware of issues and address them when they are hidden behind a 'green' reputation?

Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is of particular concern. DRC produces 72% of cobalt. Mainly used in lithium ion batteries (such as the ones found in electric cars and your phone). This is also one of the metals used to create HPHT laboratory-grown diamonds. A small amount is used in every press.

It is said that there is no 'clean supply' of cobalt. Much of it is obtained though artisanal mining. Cobalt is toxic to touch and breathe. Artisanal mining is said to involve very unsafe working conditions, low pay, environmental damage, young workers - many things that consumers are consciously trying to avoid by choosing laboratory-grown diamonds.

Though it can be hard to hear - boycotting industries that involve mining is not necessarily the answer. The mines will still run. Things will not magically change. 


Awareness is the first step to change. Companies that use these resources have the opportunity to act on improving the circumstances further up the pipeline. Exactly how, I'm not sure - but action cannot be taken when the truth is greenwashed.


Right now, consumers may think they have made responsible choice by choosing a laboratory-grown diamond. Depending on the producer who created the stone - they may have been misled. 

Regarding laboratory-grown diamonds - we must recognise that mining is a part of their production*. Greenwashing only serves as a distraction from making a real impact on our world and the people in it.

For further information on greenwashing and the UK laws surrounding it, check out the Green Claims Code.

*There are a couple of producers that are exceptions to this statement, we will discuss this in the next section.

HPHT metal flux inclusion in lab grown diamond by julia griffith from the gem academy.jpg

Metal (nickel, iron, colbalt) trapped in a facetted HPHT laboratory-grown diamond as an inclusion.

Responsible options for diamonds and
laboratory-grown diamonds

Sustainably Rated Diamonds (SCS-007)

Both diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds be put forward for SCS-007 certification.


This certificate (definitely a certificate - not a report) can be assigned to stones that have successfully adhered to the '5 pillars of achievement'.

These include a verified traceable origin, meeting environmentally, social and governance requirements, climate neutrality, sustainable production practiced, and investments into community and environment projects outside of the company.

Find out more about Sustainably Rated Diamonds here.

Second-hand diamonds

Diamonds are forever, unless whacked with a hammer (and even then - they may survive). Diamonds circulate the diamond industry again and again. The stones have sometimes been out the ground for decades. Purchasing a secondhand diamond can be a way to reduce social and environmental impact.

Producers that make efforts with sustainability

Some producers make claims about sustainability from a specific point of view - where it be responsible sourcing of their raw materials or renewable energy sources. Some will fund carbon-emission projects.

Here are a few companies that spring to mind:

Note: Any company claiming sustainability needs to be verified from an independent third-party company to ensure their claims are valid.

Laboratory-grown diamonds are not sustainable just because they were artificially produced. Traceability back to the producer can be very difficult. When there is a lack of traceability - no sustainability claims can be made.

For further information on greenwashing and the UK laws surrounding it, check out the Green Claims Code.

Sky diamonds

CVD-grown laboratory-grown diamond in the UK. Methane created from carbon-dioxide captured from the air. Hydrogen created via electrolysis in their own facility using rainwater as the source of H2O. Solar-powered energy source. Fully traceable supply chain. 

(Sky diamond: If you're reading this - I'd love a tour).

Aether Diamond

CVD-grown laboratory-grown diamond in the USA. Methane created from carbon-dioxide captured from the air. Unknown hydrogen source (not on website). 100% renewable energy source.

Diamond Foundry

CVD-grown laboratory-grown diamond in the USA. 100% renewable energy source (hydropower). Unknown hydrogen or methane source (not on website). Dedicated suppliers such as VRAI making traceability easy. Laser inscribed with the producers logo for future traceability.

Bring Diamond

CVD-grown laboratory-grown diamond in the UK. Unknown hydrogen source (not on website). 100% renewable energy source. Created, cut and polished in the UK. Involved in planting tree projects, and UK conservation and wildlife charities. Fully traceable supply chain.

Greenlab Diamond (sold through other suppliers)

CVD-grown laboratory-grown diamond in India. 100% solar-powered energy. Funding into tree planting projects equivalent to one tree plated per laboratory-grown diamond produced.

I know there are a lot more. These producers are the ones I've done research into already. If you know of a company that makes conscious efforts regarding sustainability, drop me an email at with details of their process and I'll happily add them into this article.

Check out my Gem Dictionary YouTube series! Helping the jewellery world to understand common industry phrases. Still a long way to go with the word in this video: 'synthetic'. Don't be mad at the phrase 'synthetic diamond' - it's the OG phrase! Check out this definition in my YouTube video below. Click the subscribe button in the bottom right to subscribe to this YouTube channel.

ultimate guide to lab-grown diamonds by the gem academy julia griffith online course.jpg

Learn more about laboratory-grown diamonds with my

Ultimate guide to laboratory-grown diamonds

Online course available now

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