Is Lab Grown The Future?

From meat to diamonds, lab grown is starting to take centre stage as a more planet friendly option to growing materials. The diamond industry is known to have un sustainable aspects from the intensive mining processes to social justice issue around treatment of workers within complex and un transparent supply chains. We speak to Co-Founder's of Kimai Jess and Sidney, about their thoughts on the industry, how they build their company with the mission to make the diamond industry cleaner. 

Let's start with the basics, what are lab grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds. Kimaï diamonds are made using solar energy in a lab. The main difference is that lab-grown diamonds provide 100% transparency compared to mined diamonds which have notoriously murky supply chains and are linked to complex and often devastating social and environmental issues. 

In what ways are traditional diamonds problematic? 

A real lack of transparency. It’s almost impossible to know where mined diamonds come from, and child labor is still sadly a reality in that industry. Before a mined diamond gets to its final owner, it exchanges hands an average of 10 to 15 times—and 250 tonnes of earth is moved for every 1 Carat diamond mined. 

What's the process of making a lab grown diamond?

Here’s the technical process:
1. A diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is filled with a carbon rich-gas, like Methane, among other gasses. 
2. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. 
3. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gasses, and the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed and slowly crystallizes. 

Could you share both your backgrounds and how you got into the lab grown diamond industry?

We were both born into families who worked in the diamond trade in Antwerp, but when we became aware of the inner workings of the industry (murky supply chains, child labour, negative impacts on the planet and local communities)- we wanted to do things differently. 

At 18, we both moved to London. Sidney trained to become a certified gemologist and I studied Business and Finance. Then, in autumn 2017, we went to visit our families and happened to speak to a local jeweller, who was complaining about the rise in lab-grown diamonds. At the time, this concept was still new. This was our lightbulb moment. We had been looking for a way to make the industry we loved more ethical and relevant for our generation, and we’d found it. We got to work on our designs, then had one of each prototype made in a lab, using our savings.

We quit our jobs and launched a website in November 2018. It felt like a huge risk. But just two months later, in January 2019, Meghan Markle was pictured wearing our Felicity earrings. The rest is history! 

What's the overall driving mission?

Ultimately, one of our biggest goals is to eventually help bring an end to unethical diamond mining. We aim to do this through Kimai by showing there is a way to make beautiful jewellery and diamonds in a modern, transparent way. We always say, diamond mines are not forever...

What can we expect to see from Kimai next? 

We are always looking for ways to innovate and reduce our impacts on the environment- we are in the middle of a big research project around our carbon footprint and look forward to sharing news on this soon...

Name your favorite piece from the Kimai collection!

Sidney: I’m loving the Amie chain bracelet. I like to wear mine stacked with other bracelets I’ve collected over the years and never take off.

Jess: I can’t leave the house without my earrings and always start with my Semi Hoops


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