By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
Loose lab-grown diamonds and gem stones. MiaDonna
Lab-grown diamond engagement rings. MiaDonna<p>"One is that the major five producers of natural diamonds speculated that there will be no natural diamond production after 2050 because they've run out of profitable deposits. Reason two is that for the last 10 years, we've been sought out by people, Millennials, who want to buy something that doesn't come out of the earth, who care about the earth and the damage we've created," he adds.</p><p>When it comes to the effects related to the social and humanitarian issues of mining diamonds, lab-grown diamonds also have the upper hand here. In a recent case announced last month, the <a href="https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-issues-detention-orders-against-companies-suspected-using-forced" target="_blank">U.S. Customs and Border Protection</a> (CBP) admitted that gold from artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and rough diamonds mined from Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe are "produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor." </p><p>The CBP stated that they would issue Withhold Release Orders for gold mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and rough diamonds mined from Marange, Zimbabwe, along with 3 other products believed to be produced using forced labor. Additionally, in a 2017 report from the <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/607311509663221201/pdf/Concept-Project-Information-Document-Integrated-Safeguards-Data-Sheet.pdf" target="_blank">World Bank</a> on extractive industries in Sierra Leone, research found that 'it's estimated that approximately 300,000 Sierra Leoneans are directly employed at artisanal mining operations.' </p><p>Although the diamond industry is expansive and abundant in many countries across Africa, it's rare that these artisanal mines enforce proper labor laws and environmental standards.</p>
Custom MiaDonna lab-grown diamond engagement ring. MiaDonna<p> In a recent <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/beyond-the-hype-of-lab-grown-diamonds-1834890351" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a> article, GIA's James Shipley said that advancements in the lab-grown diamond industry has only really taken off in the last five years or so, when the mainstream jewelry sector began taking notice. The <a href="https://www.theigda.org/" target="_blank">International Grown Diamond Association</a> (IGDA), a non-profit organization formed in 2016 by a <a href="https://www.theigda.org/members" target="_blank">dozen</a> lab diamond growers and sellers, now has about 50 members, according to IGDA Secretary General, Dick Garard. When the IGDA first formed, lab-grown diamonds were estimated to represent about <a href="https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/diamond-market-lab-grown-disruption" target="_blank">1 percent</a> of a $14 billion rough diamond market. </p><p> This year, industry analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates they account for 2-3 percent of the market. He expects that share will only continue to grow as factories in China that already produce millions of carats a year for industrial purposes start to see an opportunity in jewelry. Zimnisky also <a href="https://5b16c634-a-8b9f6598-s-sites.googlegroups.com/a/paulzimnisky.com/paul-zimnisky/Jeweller%20Magazine%20-%20December%202018%2C%20PP%2032-33%2C%20Paul%20Zimnisky.pdf?attachauth=ANoY7crF_76zEujmBNhEZwCdCTFYygwqvs9ZPmRKxc9bn2NTsmLUk9hdFpt5wmTm5-1UjXgqJ8i3wFe0WUr8dKbkN2k7-nnyQL20shVtlHZBJb6Bke-PMyYOzTM2IBlOWxr0P-rkjGFvRPBFRQSmoc4RlzynNiHN8LHdQyEEWGGk83jZZduPu5hPDPC8lHCxvIOAPWCi5Y5ENeZQJEOxK6KoDRQKkoaSiFcGAJz6AiokfTXn2GPjRI5MuCD1z8praQuwxvRyqZKAxHXZ9KlO7qZQG1uQFlUWVPh3w1m3wtljQ1TKtRoB0v8%3D&attredirects=0" target="_blank">estimates</a> that lab-created diamond market shares in the fashion jewelry market are forecasted to grow to almost 7 percent by 2035. </p><p> MiaDonna, specifically, was founded with a single objective in mind: to offer consumers a beautiful, ethical and affordable diamond alternative which in turn, would support <a href="http://thegreenerdiamond.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">The Greener Diamond</a> to help free innocent children oppressed by the active conflict diamond mining industry. With every order placed at MiaDonna, they give back at least 10% of net profits to directly fund projects and initiatives to help local communities have alternative career paths to mining in countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. They aren't here to just sell consumers lab-grown diamonds, they're here to rebuild the lives and land damaged by diamond mining and provide better, safer and more sustainable options for those who would otherwise be involved in the conflict diamond industry. </p>
The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna<p> In addition, this year MiaDonna became a <a href="https://bcorporation.net/directory/mia-donna-company" target="_blank">Certified B Corporation</a>, which takes into account the company's overall social and environmental performance and evaluates how its operations and business model impact not only their own employees, but also the community, environment and customers. On top of their B Corp efforts, MiaDonna uses only recycled precious metals for all of their engagement ring settings, all of their jewelry is handcrafted in the U.S.A. and they even created an eco-friendly jewelry cleaner using a non-toxic formula that is both environmentally safe and packaged in a fully recyclable, grade 1 container. Learn more about MiaDonna <a href="https://www.miadonna.com/pages/about-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">here</a> and shop all lab-grown jewelry, engagement rings and accessories. </p><p> Whatever your personal preference may be when it comes to diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are here, and they're here to stay. By being an active, conscious consumer and doing your research into the products you're purchasing and the companies you're purchasing from, you'll have full control over what best fits your needs and desires. There will always be two sides to every coin, but with the resources available for consumers to make their own educated decisions on choosing their diamond, the power is in the people. </p>
By Morgan Erickson-Davis
Africa's Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on the planet. But according to a new study, this may soon not be the case. It finds that at current rates of deforestation, all primary forest will be gone by the end of the century.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) in the U.S. who analyzed satellite data collected between 2000 and 2014. Their results were published Wednesday in Science Advances. It reveals that the Congo Basin lost around 165,000 square kilometers (approximately 64,000 square miles) of forest during their study period.
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Tropical tree cover decreased by an area the size of Bangladesh—a total of 39 million acres. That amounts to 40 football fields worth of trees cut every minute of last year in a devastating blow to biodiversity and the global climate.
By Daisy Dunne
Just over a year ago, scientists announced the discovery of the world's largest intact tropical peatland in a remote part of the Congo's vast swampy basin.
The Cuvette Centrale peatlands stretch across an area of central Africa that is larger than the size of England and stores as much as 30 billion tonnes of carbon.
By Lee Fang
The leaked draft of a presidential memorandum Donald Trump is expected to sign within days suspends a 2010 rule that discouraged American companies from funding conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through their purchase of "conflict minerals."
Munganga Nzonga Jacques, 26, died Oct. 4 in an area in the Tshivanga region of the park, an area previously believed to be safe for the gorillas, showing the dangers conservationists face in unstable regions, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said.
Jacques is the second ranger to be killed in the park in the last six months. Rebel groups shot and killed park ranger Oscar Byamungu Mianziro back in March.
Park rangers carrying out an anti-poaching patrol in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.A.J.Plumptre / WCS
"We are very concerned about these increased threats to the rangers and their families, and to the protection of these animals," Andrew Plumptre, WCS senior conservation scientist for Africa, said in a statement.
Grauer's gorilla—a subspecies of eastern gorilla, the world's largest ape—are confined to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They were listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species back in September after their population dropped 77 percent.
In 1998, it was estimated that 17,000 Grauer's gorillas lived in the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Now, fewer than 3,800 of these gorillas still live in the wild, according to a report from the WCS, Flora and Fauna International and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature.
The main cause of the decline is hunting for bushmeat and civil unrest, which is taking place around villages and mining camps that have been established by armed groups deep in the forests in eastern DR Congo.
"The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to the wide availability of arms and created a plethora of militia groups who control different territories in the east of the country," Andrew Plumptre, senior conservation scientist for the WCS Africa Program, told PLoS One. "This has been terrible for conservation of its wildlife."