For us transparency and education is absolutely necessary in the move towards providing consumers with the most ethical options from which to choose when selecting a diamond. This is why we choose to offer our clients the option of using either natural mined Canadian diamonds, natural marine diamonds or lab grown in our pieces.
Our natural conflict-free Canadian diamonds are responsibly mined and fully traceable through the Canadamark programme (GIA certified). Canadamark diamonds go beyond the typical 'conflict free' or Kimberley Process certified, set up in 2003. The Kimberley Process undoubtedly drastically improved the industry when it partnered with governments, charities and the diamond industry after the war ended in Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, there are still gaps in an insecure system where a lack of independent regular monitoring allows for the smuggling of conflict diamonds into the trade.
Our Canadian diamonds are fully traceable from mine to the cutter / polisher and then straight to us. This journey is entirely transparent with absolutely no funding of conflict or violence. Only adult workers are involved in this process and they are paid fairly and work in safe conditions. Mining in Canada is governed by more stringent regulations than other countries and all mines involved in the Canadamark programme must meet strict environmental regulations including indigenous-led wildlife monitoring programmes and industry leading water recycling and composting systems. These mines are at the forefront of community engagement and environmental and waste management practices.
Chemically and physically identical to a mined diamond, lab-grown diamonds are also created using extreme pressure and heat, but made inside a machine rather than formed deep within the Earth. Nowadays, there are two ways to grow a diamond: High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) and the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method (see below for more information on these two methods for growing a diamond). The Diamond Foundry’s individual method is actually a combination of the two, using the CVD method but at much higher temperatures. Their diamonds are created in bespoke plasma reactors that re-create the earth’s natural conditions and this process begins with a tiny mined diamond ‘seed’ crystal. Using the heated plasma, atoms are then built onto this seed layer by layer until they form a jewellery-grade gemstone (chemically identical to a mined diamond).
As with many mined diamonds, the origins of lab-grown diamonds are not always clear and there is much misinformation publicised. A distinct lack of transparency makes it difficult to source accurate data to compare the carbon footprints of mined and lab diamonds, but the energy needed to produce a lab diamond is significant. This is why at Pascale James we choose to work with America's Diamond Foundry in offering a lab grown alternative to our clients as their diamonds are grown using 100% renewable energy. Whilst they don't publish figures of their energy usage, they are a carbon neutral producer of diamonds, hydropowered by the Columbia River in America's Pacific West.
- The chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method involves breaking down the molecules of a carbon-rich gas, such as methane, into carbon and hydrogen atoms, which then are deposited on diamond seeds to produce a square-shaped, tabular diamond crystal. Most CVD-grown diamonds require additional treatments like heat or irradiation to enhance or change their colours after the growth process.