Lab created diamonds
Clearly, diamond mining isn't sustainable. Even if we are able to make progress with regard to the social cost of diamonds, the Earth doesn't yield up her natural diamonds without an environmental price. Fortunately, there are now alternatives which are ecologically responsible.
Although synthetic diamonds have been available since the 1960's, the stones made were only of industrial quality. It is only recently that gem quality diamonds were finally brought to market, with several companies currently pursuing this new niche.
The two different processes utilized ("High Pressure, High Temperature" and "Chemical Vapor Deposition") both create gems which are chemically, optically and physically the same as diamonds made by nature. While testing laboratories are working to develop procedures so that they can reliably differentiate between natural and lab created diamonds, the fact that they must use sophisticated equipment to make that determination very plainly suggests that the stones will be indistinguishable to non-technical observers.
The Eco Footprint of Created Diamonds
The components needed to make diamonds are fairly modest. Carbon is needed, but since graphite is already mined in large quantities, the small amount used to make a diamond is unlikely to impact demand for mining.
The other thing needed is energy to create heat and pressure. Pressure is created through the use of hydraulics, which requires little energy. Heat is created by resistance. A very thin filament of platinum is placed in the center of a crucible. An electrical charge is passed through that filament. Maintaining 1300 C requires about as much electricity one would use to power a 500 watt light bulb.
Since these created stones are in fact real diamonds, there is little remaining reason to endure the stigma now attached to natural diamonds. We feel the time has come to start transitioning those employed in diamond mining to sustainable livelihoods in other industries, while phasing out diamond mining altogether. It simply isn't needed any more.