In late June 2021, Latitude a lab-grown diamond company that’s a division of the Washington D.C.-based WD Lab Grown Diamonds opened a new chapter in jewelry history by announcing that it is the world’s first and only diamond company to produce lab-grown diamonds that are carbon neutral, and what’s more, climate neutral. While diamonds have long been evaluated based on their cut, color, clarity and carat weight (collectively known as the 4 Cs), Latitude embodies the 5th C, or climate neutrality. 100 per cent third-party certified climate neutral is a rating that surpasses carbon neutral in environmental stewardship. At this moment in time, it appears that Latitude embodies the highest environmental sustainability distinction of any diamond, lab-grown or naturally mined. All of this has been made possible by the world’s most stringent benchmark of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) accountability for the diamond industry: the SCS Global Services’ Jewelry Sustainability Standard, titled SCS 007. Developed over the last decade by an international multi-stakeholder committee, SCS 007 is the first standard program to accurately trace a diamond’s epic journey from origin to cutter to manufacturer to jewelry store to consumer. The standard’s documented empirical chain of custody provisions guarantee provenance with 99% accuracy. What’s more, according to Stanley Mathuram, executive vice-president of SCS Global Services, “WD Diamonds offset, mitigated, and reduced its environmental impact by eighteen times through strategic sustainability investments and process improvements over their year-long odyssey to meet our scientific standard and receive certification.” It is worth noting that along with WD Lab Grown Diamonds, other initial stakeholders who have signed up to undergo the process that will lead to attaining the SCS standard certification include such global jewelry brands as Swarovski, Goldiam, LUSIX Lab-Grown Diamonds, GreenRocks Created Diamonds and Nouveau Diamond.
Developed after years of internationally coordinated scientific research, meetings, and multiple draft documents, SCS 007 represents the first comprehensive, multi-stakeholder sustainability standard for both natural diamond and lab-grown diamond sectors. In addition to industrial-scale, naturally mined diamonds and laboratory produced diamonds, SCS 007 also applies to cutting and polishing facilities as well as grading laboratories that take temporary custody of diamonds during their journeys. (The standard is being managed by SCS Standards, the non-profit standards development arm of SCS Global Services.)
Notably, the standard focuses on the sustainability of the diamond production operation, rather than whether it was sourced from a mine or a lab. As Mathuram related, “SCS 007 provides the first unified, industry-wide statement of responsibility to workers, communities and the environment. Our plan,” he continues, “is to donate a percentage of certification fees to fund and train smaller, artisanal diamond operations so that they can formalize their operations and also benefit from this standard.” The SCS 007 standard is based on five pillars of achievement, the first of which is verified origin traceability. This entails guaranteeing the origin of each certified diamond through advanced testing, gem identification protocols, surveillance audits and sampling across the supply chain.
The second involves twelve principles of ethical stewardship and adhering to various comprehensive environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirement. Then there is verified climate neutrality. This means achieving confirmed climate neutrality based on the most stringent climate protocols addressing both current and legacy emissions.
While the category of sustainable production practices refers to eliminating or offsetting environmental and human health impacts, the fifth and final pillar embodies sustainability investments. These varied investments create societal benefits through investments that support and advance vulnerable communities, clean the air and water, protect the climate and protect endangered ecosystems. As Mathuram explained, “The robust provisions of this consensus standard will ensure that people seeking to make sustainability claims for their stones, whether mined or laboratory produced, have met a high bar of performance. This industry with its long history of self-promoted and problematic claims deserves a fresh start with a unified claim that has the potential to gain the trust and support from consumers and stakeholders.”
As Sue Rechner, CEO of WD Lab Grown Diamonds shared, “This Standard enables the diamond industry to walk the walk. We’re proud to be the first diamond company to be certified and achieve the highest level of sustainability rating – a process that involved a robust lifecycle assessment, and over a year of in-depth audits. Our commitment to sustainability and transparency reflects our belief in putting the consumer first – empowering them with third-party verified information so that they can make an informed choice. With the launch of our premium brand Latitude,” she continued, “We define a new benchmark for environmental, social and governance stewardship, and are creating a space for the consumer to define and celebrate their life’s milestones on their own terms.”
According to sustainable marketing consultant Nancy Trent, founder and president of New York-based Trent & Company, the SCS 007 certification standard can provide valuable assurances to urgent consumer questions. “Jewelry lovers of all ages, genders and sexual orientations are seeking transparency and corporate accountability with respect to environmental responsibility, worker rights, human health and Fair Trade practices,” she noted. “This standard is a step in a more evidence-based, documented direction for the diamond and jewelry industries.”
Trent, whose jewelry-related clients have included The International Jewelry Design Guild, Philip Stein Watches and The Jewelry Accessories Show of New York, prophesies, “Only those designers and retailers who clearly address consumers’ ethical concerns and answer the urgent environmental questions of current and future generations will forge a sympathetic connection with diamond jewelry shoppers, build trust and see their diamond jewelry sales grow.”
Despite marketing assurances that a given diamond is conflict-free, caused minimal environmental impacts and was produced safely without breaking labor laws or violating human rights, without a rigorous and science-based, uniform industry standard for responsibly sourced and ethically produced diamonds “such claims are unverifiable, hollow and ultimately self-defeating,” Trent observes. “Many people, including teens, are smart enough to know when a diamond jewelry website, advertisement or Instagram post contains greenwashing language. Those in the diamond and jewelry industries urgently need to realize that today’s environmentally aware kids are their future customers, and tailor their diamond jewelry lines and marketing accordingly.”
Available through upcoming exclusive brand and designer partnerships, and a selective international network of authorized retailers, Latitude’s Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) diamonds are graded by eminent independent gemological laboratories. Latitude’s colorless and near-colorless diamonds are certified as among the rarest diamonds on earth – Type IIA, and As Grown with no post-growth treatment enhancement. Latitude diamonds are available in a full range of carat weights, including sizes that set records for lab-grown diamonds in fancy and round brilliant shapes. They embody high industry grades in Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat.
Founded in 2008, WD Lab Grown Diamonds specializes in Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) diamonds, with laboratories in the Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois areas. (While WD utilizes proprietary diamond growth technology to achieve bespoke gemstone production at scale, it also offers diamonds for industrial and scientific applications.) WD Lab Grown Diamonds is the exclusive licensee of a portfolio of patents covering single crystal CVD diamond growth technology developed by The Carnegie Institution of Washington. The company is jointly owned by Huron Capital, WD Management, members of its board of directors and The Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Certifying sustainably mined and laboratory grown diamonds under one standard may enable the jewelry industry to resolve many of its diamond marketing dilemmas, observed Soraya Cayen, owner of the Carmel, CA. high luxury jewelry salon Cayen Collection, which was voted by the Womens’ Jewelry Association (WJA) as one of the top five jewelry stores in the United States. As Cayen related, “Now the industry can start educating consumers about this new standard and explain some of the world-changing economic, ethical and environmental benefits that are associated with certified sustainable diamonds.”