Diamonds are no longer just for collectors, they’re also for the world.
That’s the takeaway from a new report from Recode.
A whopping 73% of the world’s diamonds are owned by fewer than 10 people.
That means we can’t afford to ignore them any longer, and we’re going to need to do something about it.
“The demand for these gems is so high, the price of them is so low, that it’s going to be hard for any company to keep them for themselves,” said Mark Williams, co-founder of Rethink Diamonds.
“The demand is there, but the supply is not.”
Rethink is a company that collects diamonds from the world and gives them back to people in need.
It sells these diamonds for about $8 per pound, so the average person in Africa or Asia has to pay $2,000 to $2.50 per pound to buy a diamond ring from Rethine.
But that’s only if you want a ring made from one of the diamonds, and the demand for those diamonds is growing rapidly.
In the last few years, Rethindigs production has grown from 400,000 pieces a year to more than 600,000 a year.
That growth comes on top of a surge in demand.
For instance, in 2017, demand for diamonds from North America was more than double what it was in the year before.
“There’s been an exponential increase in demand for our diamonds, the supply has been increasing exponentially and we are seeing more and more demand,” Williams said.
To meet demand, Rithindigs has to find new ways to mine diamonds in a more sustainable way.
They’re now using a combination of technology, conservation and a new, more efficient way of extracting diamonds, which means they’re able to harvest more diamonds from more places, and less from the same areas.
They also have to cut down on their use of toxic chemicals, which can lead to environmental damage.
The biggest challenge is finding a way to ensure the diamonds don’t become a part the global supply chain.
The company has been working on ways to improve its diamond supply chain to reduce environmental impact, while also making sure that they’re not used to extract the precious stones.
The process is called “sustainability recycling.”
“It’s very difficult to make sure that we recycle diamonds in the way that we want,” Williams told Recode, “because they are so hard to get to, they are extremely fragile and they have a very low yield.”
Rithindig’s sustainability recycling process uses the diamond in the process to convert it to something more suitable for use in a specific purpose.
For example, a diamond used in a ring could be used to make the material that makes up the diamonds’ core, or it could be sold as a replacement part in a tool.
That way, the company can ensure the gems are used for the right purposes.
In 2018, Rythindig reached a deal with the Government of Namibia to give away their diamonds for free to anyone in need, but it has only been a year since the company began using them in a sustainable way, and they’re still finding ways to reduce their environmental impact.
“When you’re going through the sustainability recycling, it is a long process,” Williams added.
“And we have to be patient and continue to find ways to make it work.”
While the diamonds are technically still mined in South Africa, they don’t make up a large portion of the company’s overall production.
Instead, they produce diamonds in India, China, South Africa and Australia, and Williams said that’s where the majority of the demand comes from.
In fact, RTHIndig’s supply chain is one of many companies that are using diamonds in other ways, like making jewellery, cosmetics and furniture.
It’s also possible to buy diamonds directly from RTHINDIG, and these diamonds are mined in the United States and Australia.
“We also sell them on the market,” Williams explained.
“But in the US we have a big supply chain, so we sell to our customers, and in Australia we sell them to our suppliers.”
While it’s not a sustainable business model, R THINDINDIG has found ways to find a way forward.
One way they’re trying to do that is through the use of renewable energy.
“Right now, our energy use is about 5% of our total supply, but we’re getting to a point where we’re starting to use more renewable energy,” Williams admitted.
“So we’re trying our best to take advantage of all the energy that’s being created around the world, to get more from it and use less of it.”
The company is also using renewable energy to create jobs in the region.
In 2017, the US and India were the two biggest sources of RTH INDIG’s manufacturing, with both countries contributing more