Dia

Innovation out of Thin Air

Aether Diamonds

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 15. Life on Land 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Overview

Aether Diamonds is pioneering direct air capture technology in its pursuit of creating and expanding its line of diamond jewelry products. While competitors source conflict diamonds or grow synthetic alternatives from fossil fuels, Aether Diamonds is the first to offer diamonds from excess carbon in the air, contributing to the global fight against climate change.

Authors

Neha Praseed

Neha Praseed

Helen Li

Helen Li

Rohit Rakhit

Rohit Rakhit

Ana Yasinsky

Ana Yasinsky

Michael Liu

Michael Liu

School

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Professors

Doug DeGirolamo

Doug DeGirolamo

Megan Buchter

Megan Buchter

Innovation

Aether is a company that has created an innovation that can change the world’s approach to creating viable products through waste created by man-kind. We already see many processes generated to help solve the waste issues and pollution, including recycling. Recycling is reusing materials thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Aether takes this concept to the next level through technological innovation, creating diamonds through literal thin air by capturing the carbon in our atmosphere and transforming it into an item of value and high demand. Diamonds are created in labs and processed through hydrocarbon feedstock required to grow diamonds in laboratories. This process comes from fossil fuels, which adds to the amount of waste and use of our limited resources provided by our planet. Aether sought to replace the need for fossil fuels in the creation of diamonds by providing the feedstock from another source - the excess carbon in the air we breathe.

“We can’t just turn the tap off; we have to pull the plug,” said Ryan Shearman, CEO of Aether, when asked about the global issue of rising carbon emissions and how his company contributes to solving this eminent issue. “Direct air capture […] is how we pull the plug […] it’s going to take all of these solutions to make sure we have a future for our children.” Using direct air capture technology, Aether synthesizes CO2 into the hydrocarbon feedstock labs required to grow diamonds. Through the power of 100% clean energy, the hydrocarbon material grows into diamond crystals. Despite the high cost of this process, the story of the creation of the diamond and the benefits provided to our planet create the perfect green product that consumers can purchase guilt-free.

Innovation out of Thin Air

Inspiration

Cofounders Dan Wojno and Ryan Shearman met 11 years ago as coworkers at David Yurman, a diamond company native to New York City. Seven and a half years later, Ryan’s Facebook post asking engaged couples about their process of selecting diamonds piqued Dan’s attention. They hopped on a call and discussed lab-grown diamonds- an innovation a few steps ahead of David Yurman’s commitment to avoid “conflict” or “blood” diamonds. The environment was on both founders’ minds; as they spoke, Dan was walking his dog on the streets of Bangkok and wearing a mask to protect himself from air pollutants. He jokingly speculated about creating diamonds from the carbon in the atmosphere, and they ended the call with a laugh.

A week later, the seemingly absurd topic resurfaced. Having worked in the diamond industry, both knew that a carbon-sourced diamond would be a story. Customers didn’t like the unethical story that shrouded naturally-grown diamonds, and they found lab-grown diamonds unromantic. “The only thing that ever sold a diamond is a story,” Dan says. “If we can truly make diamonds from atmospheric CO2, that’ll bring a unique and romantic story to lab-grown diamonds.” This conversation inspired individual research. Dan and Ryan met Anthony- a chemical engineer turned CTO. Once he confirmed that carbon diamonds were possible, the team spent the next three years perfecting the process of direct air capture.

Overall impact

Aether's main impact is its carbon initiative through diamond creation. Their primary customer base is people with climate change concerns looking for a new sustainable diamond option.

Some of the concerns with traditional diamonds include blood diamonds, human rights abuses, and environmental destruction. Aether has solved these problems and leads the charge in converting atmospheric carbon into diamonds. Dan promised that " while only a small amount of carbon sequestered in the diamond, we have a 20-ton commitment." This commitment means that for every karat of diamond they sell, they commit to pulling an additional 20 tons of C02 out of the atmosphere with their partner projects. Therefore, they use part of their profits for other frontier carbon initiatives to have maximum impact. Aether sees diamonds as a familiar first product and industry. However, in the future, they hope to grow and invest these profits in projects that will sequester even more carbon, such as graphite or carbon black. Aether measures its impact through Life Cycle Analysis, a third-party verification that ensures they are a carbon-neutral company. With their carbon sequestration in diamonds, they then become a carbon-negative company. Aether aims to be open, honest, and transparent with its goals, progress, and overall impact.

Business benefit

Aether's entire team consists of 13 people within four sectors- engineering, design, sales, and marketing. Aether was founded by Ryan Shearman and Daniel Wojno, who is now the CEO and COO, respectively. They both have backgrounds in mechanical engineering and extensive diamond creation knowledge, which have helped launch the company successfully. Company culture is also significant within Aether. Dan believes that "value alignment is of utmost importance. For him, the best and worst part about any company he has worked for is the people. So make sure that you hire people who integrate well with the company values. Also, the type of company you want to have is essential." In addition to asking qualification questions during interviews, they also prioritize asking questions to see if the candidate's values align with the company culture. What makes Aether so successful in its industry is how it values the different ideas and perspectives everyone on its team brings.

Social and environmental benefit

Aether uses direct air capture technology to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. While mined diamonds contribute 148 pounds of emissions per carat, Aether operates a carbon-negative company through its unique diamond crafting process. Compared to the energy required by mined diamonds, Aether diamonds require only half the amount of energy. The energy source is sustainable energy providers as opposed to fossil fuels. The innovative process further conserves 127 gallons of freshwater per carat typically used in the mining procedure and prevents billions of gallons of acidic run-off from mines each year. Aether also strives to preserve life on land by keeping its process above ground and precluding the destruction of ecosystems compared to traditional gem sources, which uproot 250 tons of earth per mined diamond. In terms of impact on society, Aether is 100% conflict-free.

Over 60% of mined diamonds sold in the United States have problematic ties to military governments or corrupt agencies. Aether makes decisions in consideration of ethics and well-being for all.

Interview

Daniel Wojno, COO

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Aether Diamonds

Aether Diamonds

New York City, NY, US

Business Website: https://aetherdiamonds.com

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

The Aether diamonds craft jewelry from carbon extracted from the atmosphere. Each carat positively impacts the climate and promotes ethical and sustainable practices.