I have long editorialized against diamonds; that a supposed symbol of love and commitment comes on the backs of abused miners and diamond-finishers the world over is one of society's many pathetic and disturbing ironies. Diamond mining destroys lives, the environment, it and funds wars (see stats below). 

 

• Angola's civil war has left half a billion dead and 86,000 maimed. About $3.7 billion in diamonds was pocketed by UNITA, the rebel movement in Angola, between 1992 and 1999 alone.

 

• The Democratic Republic of the Congo's war continues today, with rebels and armies from neighboring countries and the DRC committing atrocities. The ongoing violence has left 2.5 million dead and millions of people displaced to date. Hundreds of millions of dollars in diamonds are stolen or smuggled out every year. 

 

• On Aug. 27, two miners were killed and four others injured in an explosion at ALROSA's Udachinsky mining plant in the Yakutia Republic.

 

But if you are still attached to the idea of giving (or receiving) a diamond, there are some great alternatives from lab-grown diamonds — which also happen to cost 25 percent less than those that are mined and fund wars. And since diamonds are just simple carbon chains (as a former geologist, I can tell you that they are perhaps the world's most simple and boring hunks of gem), even diamond experts can't tell the difference between diamonds dug from the Earth (polluting it along the way) and those that are made in a lab. Because diamonds have so little complexity, producing them is a straightforward process. 

 

This is why they are called CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) diamonds, according to producer Washington Diamonds:

 

"A CVD diamond is grown from a small diamond seed, which adds vaporized carbon atoms one by one to create a larger diamond. This process is known as Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). CVD diamonds are chemically and visually indistinguishable from mined diamonds and experts cannot identify them even through inspection."

 

CVD diamonds are also U.S.-made, so they don't have to be shipped as far, and better yet, American jobs are created when people buy these gems. "

 

If I didn't think that diamonds were incredibly boring and cold-looking, I would consider such a gem. What do you think? Would you opt for a conflict-free, lab-grown diamond? 

 

Related green living story on MNN: How to make your wedding day green

 

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