Ace’s ANC vs Cyril’s ANC
“We treated our entrepreneurs and businesspeople… like enemies, and white monopoly capital, and all that. That must end today.” – President Cyril Ramaphosa, 26 October 2018
“We cannot allow a few of us to be co-opted into the power structure of the (mainly white) rich, while many (indeed most black and African people) still remain poor. We cannot defeat White Monopoly Capital by allowing it to co-opt us.” – Ace Magashule, 18 May 2019
Anyone still claiming that the ANC is united under President Cyril Ramaphosa must please explain how the two people Quote: d above can claim to work towards the same goal in the same organisation.
Reading ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s speech from the weekend’s Walter Sisulu memorial lecture, watching the hero’s “welcome” of Lindiwe Sisulu into the ANC Women’s League and listening to the attacks on the Zondo commission by Magashule’s storm troops made one thing abundantly clear: Ramaphosa’s got mutiny on his hands.
The ANC is now clearly divided between the Ramaphosa camp which champions economic growth, non-racialism and anti-corruption, and the Magashule camp which champions conspiracies, victimhood and blames white people for all the country’s ills.
Magashule is now in open defiance of the ANC president as the party goes into its crucial national executive committee (NEC) meeting where the composition of the next ANC will be discussed.
Ramaphosa has to deal with Magashule, decisively and soon.
The former Free State premier, who is himself deeply implicated in years of state capture and corruption, is on a mission to besmirch Ramaphosa’s name and efforts to rebuild South Africa.
The Magashule who spoke at the historic Waaihoek Methodist Church in Bloemfontein where the ANC was formed, was the same Magashule who supported and aided the Gupta family in their plunder of South Africa and particularly the Free State.
Those who may have thought the WMC and radical economic transformation (RET) playbooks died with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s defeat at Nasrec in the race for the next Cabinet must think again. Magashule sang from the exact hymn sheet that was created for the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma by Bell Pottinger on Saturday when he spoke in memory of one of the greatest leaders ever produced by the ANC.
What a shame.
What makes the depravity even worse was the fact that Sisulu’s daughter, Lindiwe, was looking on, endorsing the spectacle and abuse of her father’s name to further the cause of those who want to undermine and derail Ramaphosa’s clean-up project.
Sisulu took umbrage when I wrote in this column last week that my sources have intimated to me that she may have teamed up with the Magashule gang to topple Ramaphosa. It’s no secret that Sisulu is still hurt after Ramaphosa appointed DD Mabuza as deputy president of the country.
Remember that Sisulu was the Ramaphosa slate’s candidate for deputy president at Nasrec, but after a last-minute deal with Mpumalanga’s Mabuza, he won the ticket and also ascended to the second-highest post in the land.
After this weekend I have even more reason to believe Sisulu is part of the project to undermine Ramaphosa. How do you sit on a stage and listen to speaker after speaker slamming the work of the Zondo commission and the country’s brave journalists?
How do you do nothing when speaker after speaker declares war on Magashule’s enemies and call on his critics to be “crushed”? And then be “welcomed” into the ANCWL by an ecstatic Bathabile Dlamini, who embodies the lost Zuma era?
Magashule’s diatribe against WMC on Saturday was clearly aimed at Ramaphosa. When he says “a few of us” have been co-opted by white business, he means Ramaphosa. More specifically, Magashule was probably referring to Ramaphosa’s business breakfast with Goldman Sachs last week during which he assured investors that expropriation without compensation would be handled with the greatest care and sensitivity.
Magashule isn’t interested in nuance solutions. He is a populist, only interested in saving his own skin. He has learned well from his mentor, Zuma; play the victim, stoke the conspiracies and blame white capital for all your problems.
Magashule is in big, big trouble. There is a real chance that he will be arrested and charged when the National Prosecuting Authority’s state capture prosecutions finally kick off.
Magashule and his mentor need to neutralise Ramaphosa’s power before the state capture trials begin. Who will be first?
– Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.
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Billions of years ago when the world was still young, treasu
Billions of years ago when the world was still young, treasure began forming deep underground. As the edges of Earth’s tectonic plates plunged down into the upper mantle, bits of carbon, some likely hailing from long-dead life forms were melted and compressed into rigid lattices. Over millions of years, those lattices grew into the most durable, dazzling gems the planet had ever cooked up. And every so often, for reasons scientists still don’t fully understand, an eruption would send a stash of these stones rocketing to the surface inside a bubbly magma known as kimberlite.
There, the diamonds would remain, nestled in the kimberlite volcanoes that delivered them from their fiery home, until humans evolved, learned of their existence, and began to dig them up.
The epic origin of Earth’s diamonds has helped fuel a powerful marketing mythology around them: that they are objects of otherworldly strength and beauty; fitting symbols of eternal love. But while “diamonds are forever” may be the catchiest advertising slogan ever to bear some geologic truth, the supply of these stones in the Earth’s crust, in places we can readily reach them, is far from everlasting. And the scars we’ve inflicted on the land and ourselves in order to mine diamonds has cast a shadow that still lingers over the industry.
Some diamond seekers, however, say we don’t need to scour the Earth any longer, because science now offers an alternative: diamonds grown in labs. These gems aren’t simulants or synthetic substitutes; they are optically, chemically, and physically identical to their Earth-mined counterparts. They’re also cheaper, and in theory, limitless. The arrival of lab-grown diamonds has rocked the jewelry world to its core and prompted fierce pushback from diamond miners. Claims abound on both sides.
Growers often say that their diamonds are sustainable and ethical; miners and their industry allies counter that only gems plucked from the Earth can be considered “real” or “precious.” Some of these assertions are subjective, others are supported only by sparse, self-reported, or industry-backed data. But that’s not stopping everyone from making them.
This is a fight over image, and when it comes to diamonds, image is everything.
A variety of cut, polished Ada Diamonds created in a lab, including smaller melee stones and large center stones. 22.94 carats total. (2.60 ct. pear, 2.01 ct. asscher, 2.23 ct. cushion, 3.01 ct. radiant, 1.74 ct. princess, 2.11 ct. emerald, 3.11 ct. heart, 3.00 ct. oval, 3.13 ct. round.) Image: Sam Cannon (Earther) Same, but different The dream of lab-grown diamond dates back over a century. In 1911, science fiction author H.G. Wells described what would essentially become one of the key methods for making diamond—recreating the conditions inside Earth’s mantle on its surface—in his short story The Diamond Maker . As the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) notes, there were a handful of dubious attempts to create diamonds in labs in the late 19th and early 20th century, but the first commercial diamond production wouldn’t emerge until the mid-1950s, when scientists with General Electric worked out a method for creating small, brown stones . Others, including De Beers, soon developed their own methods for synthesizing the gems, and use of the lab-created diamond in industrial applications, from cutting tools to high power electronics, took off.
According to the GIA’s James Shigley, the first experimental production of gem-quality diamond occurred in 1970. Yet by the early 2000s, gem-quality stones were still small, and often tinted yellow with impurities. It was only in the last five or so years that methods for growing diamonds advanced to the point that producers began churning out large, colorless stones consistently. That’s when the jewelry sector began to take a real interest.
Today, that sector is taking off. The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA), a trade group formed in 2016 by a dozen 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 1 percent of a $14 billion rough diamond market. 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.
“I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not.” “This year some [factories] will come up from 100,000 gem-quality diamonds to one to two million,” Zimnisky said. “They already have the infrastructure and equipment in place” and are in the process of upgrading it. (About 150 million carats of diamonds were mined last year, according to a global analysis of the industry conducted by Bain & Company.)
Production ramp-up aside, 2018 saw some other major developments across the industry. In the summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reversed decades of guidance when it expanded the definition of a diamond to include those created in labs and dropped ‘synthetic’ as a recommended descriptor for lab-grown stones. The decision came on the heels of the world’s top diamond producer, De Beers, announcing the launch of its own lab-grown diamond line, Lightbox, after having once vowed never to sell man-made stones as jewelry.
“I would say shock,” Lightbox Chief Marketing Officer Sally Morrison told Earther when asked how the jewelry world responded to the company’s launch.
Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther) While the majority of lab-grown diamonds on the market today are what’s known as melee (less than 0.18 carats), the tech for producing the biggest, most dazzling diamonds continues to improve. In 2016, lab-grown diamond company MiaDonna announced its partners had grown a 6.28 carat gem-quality diamond, claimed to be the largest created in the U.S. to that point. In 2017, a lab in Augsburg University , Germany that grows diamonds for industrial and scientific research applications produced what is thought to be the largest lab-grown diamond ever—a 155 carat behemoth that stretches nearly 4 inches across. Not gem quality, perhaps, but still impressive.
“If you compare it with the Queen’s diamond, hers is four times heavier, it’s clearer” physicist Matthias Schreck, who leads the group that grew that beast of a jewel, told me. “But in area, our diamond is bigger. We were very proud of this.”
Diamonds can be created in one of two ways: Similar to how they form inside the Earth, or similar to how scientists speculate they might form in outer space.
The older, Earth-inspired method is known as “high temperature high pressure” (HPHT), and that’s exactly what it sounds like. A carbon source, like graphite, is placed in a giant, mechanical press where, in the presence of a catalyst, it’s subjected to temperatures of around 1,600 degrees Celsius and pressures of 5-6 Gigapascals in order to form diamond. (If you’re curious what that sort of pressure feels like, the GIA describes it as similar to the force exerted if you tried to balance a commercial jet on your fingertip.)
The newer method, called chemical vapor deposition (CVD), is more akin to how diamonds might form in interstellar gas clouds (for which we have indirect, spectroscopic evidence, according to Shigley). A hydrocarbon gas, like methane, is pumped into a low-pressure reactor vessel alongside hydrogen. While maintaining near-vacuum conditions, the gases are heated very hot—typically 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius, according to Lightbox CEO Steve Coe—causing carbon atoms to break free of their molecular bonds. Under the right conditions, those liberated bits of carbon will settle out onto a substrate—typically a flat, square plate of a synthetic diamond produced with the HPHT method—forming layer upon layer of diamond.
“It’s like snow falling on a table on your back porch,” Jason Payne , the founder and CEO of lab-grown diamond jewelry company Ada Diamonds , told me.
Scientists have been forging gem-quality diamonds with HPHT for longer, but today, CVD has become the method of choice for those selling larger bridal stones. That’s in part because it’s easier to control impurities and make diamonds with very high clarity, according to Coe. Still, each method has its advantages—Payne said that HPHT is faster and the diamonds typically have better color (which is to say, less of it)—and some companies, like Ada, purchase stones grown in both ways.
However they’re made, lab-grown diamonds have the same exceptional hardness, stiffness, and thermal conductivity as their Earth-mined counterparts. Cut, they can dazzle with the same brilliance and fire—a technical term to describe how well the diamond scatters light like a prism. The GIA even grades them according to the same 4Cs —cut, clarity, color, and carat—that gemologists use to assess diamonds formed in the Earth, although it uses a slightly different terminology to report the color and clarity grades for lab-grown stones.
They’re so similar, in fact, that lab-grown diamond entering the larger diamond supply without any disclosures has become a major concern across the jewelry industry, particularly when it comes to melee stones from Asia. It’s something major retailers are now investing thousands of dollars in sophisticated detection equipment to suss out by searching for minute differences in, say, their crystal shape or for impurities like nitrogen (much less common in lab-grown diamond, according to Shigley).
Those differences may be a lifeline for retailers hoping to weed out lab-grown diamonds, but for companies focused on them, they can become another selling point. The lack of nitrogen in diamonds produced with the CVD method, for instance, gives them an exceptional chemical purity that allows them to be classified as type IIa ; a rare and coveted breed that accounts for just 2 percent of those found in nature. Meanwhile, the ability to control everything about the growth process allows companies like Lightbox to adjust the formula and produce incredibly rare blue and pink diamonds as part of their standard product line. (In fact, these colored gemstones have made up over half of the company’s sales since launch, according to Coe.)
And while lab-grown diamonds boast the same sparkle as their Earthly counterparts, they do so at a significant discount. Zimnisky said that today, your typical one carat, medium quality diamond grown in a lab will sell for about $3,600, compared with $6,100 for its Earth-mined counterpart—a discount of about 40 percent. Two years ago, that discount was only 18 percent. And while the price drop has “slightly tapered off” as Zimnisky put it, he expects it will fall further thanks in part to the aforementioned ramp up in Chinese production, as well as technological improvements. (The market is also shifting in response to Lightbox, which De Beers is using to position lab-grown diamonds as mass produced items for fashion jewelry, and which is selling its stones, ungraded, at the controversial low price of $800 per carat—a discount of nearly 90 percent.)
Zimnisky said that if the price falls too fast, it could devalue lab-grown diamonds in the eyes of consumers. But for now, at least, paying less seems to be a selling point. A 2018 consumer research survey by MVI Marketing found that most of those polled would choose a larger lab-grown diamond over a smaller mined diamond of the same price.
“The thing [consumers] seem most compelled by is the ability to trade up in size and quality at the same price,” Garard of IGDA said.
Still, for buyers and sellers alike, price is only part of the story. Many in the lab-grown diamond world market their product as an ethical or eco-friendly alternative to mined diamonds.
But those sales pitches aren’t without controversy.
A variety of lab-grown diamond products arrayed on a desk at Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. The stone in the upper left gets its blue color from boron. Diamonds tinted yellow (top center) usually get their color from small amounts of nitrogen. Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther) Dazzling promises As Anna-Mieke Anderson tells it, she didn’t enter the diamond world to become a corporate tycoon. She did it to try and fix a mistake.
In 1999, Anderson purchased herself a diamond. Some years later, in 2005, her father asked her where it came from. Nonplussed, she told him it came from the jewelry store. But that wasn’t what he was asking: He wanted to know where it really came from.
“I actually had no idea,” Anderson told Earther. “That led me to do a mountain of research.”
That research eventually led Anderson to conclude that she had likely bought a diamond mined under horrific conditions. She couldn’t be sure, because the certificate of purchase included no place of origin. But around the time of her purchase, civil wars funded by diamond mining were raging across Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, fueling “widespread devastation” as Global Witness put it in 2006 . At the height of the diamond wars in the late ‘90s, the watchdog group estimates that as many as 15 percent of diamonds entering the market were conflict diamonds. Even those that weren’t actively fueling a war were often being mined in dirty, hazardous conditions; sometimes by children.
Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag. Click here to view original GIF A 3.11 ct. heart-shaped lab-grown diamond from Ada Diamonds. Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther) “I couldn’t believe I’d bought into this,” Anderson said.
To try and set things right, Anderson began sponsoring a boy living in a Liberian community impacted by the blood diamond trade. The experience was so eye-opening, she says, that she eventually felt compelled to sponsor more children. Selling conflict-free jewelry seemed like a fitting way to raise money to do so, but after a great deal more research, Anderson decided she couldn’t in good faith consider any diamond pulled from the Earth to be truly conflict-free in either the humanitarian or environmental sense. While diamond miners were, by the early 2000s, getting their gems certified “conflict free” according to the UN-backed Kimberley Process , the certification scheme’s definition of a conflict diamond—one sold by rebel groups to finance armed conflicts against governments—felt far too narrow.
“That [conflict definition] eliminates anything to do with the environment, or eliminates a child mining it, or someone who was a slave, or beaten, or raped,” Anderson said.
And so she started looking into science, and in 2007, launching MiaDonna as one of the world’s first lab-grown diamond jewelry companies. The business has been activism-oriented from the get-go, with at least five percent of its annual earnings—and more than 20 percent for the last three years—going into The Greener Diamond , Anderson’s charity foundation which has funded a wide range of projects , from training former child soldiers in Sierra Leone to grow food to sponsoring kids orphaned by the West African Ebola outbreak.
MiaDonna isn’t the only company that positions itself as an ethical alternative to the traditional diamond industry. Brilliant Earth, which sells what it says are carefully-sourced mined and lab-created diamonds, also donates a small portion of its profits to supporting mining communities. Other lab-grown diamond companies market themselves as “ ethical ,” “ conflict-free ,” or “ world positive .” Payne of Ada Diamonds sees, in lab-grown diamonds, not just shiny baubles, but a potential to improve medicine , clean up pollution , and advance society in countless other ways—and he thinks the growing interest in lab-grown diamond jewelry will help propel us toward that future.
Others, however, say black-and-white characterizations when it comes to social impact of mined diamonds versus lab-grown stones are unfair. “I have a real problem with people claiming one is ethical and another is not,” Estelle Levin-Nally , founder and CEO of Levin Sources, which advocates for better governance in the mining sector, told Earther. “I think it’s always about your politics. And ethics are subjective.”
Saleem Ali , an environmental researcher at the University of Delaware who serves on the board of the Diamonds and Development Initiative, agrees. He says the mining industry has, on the whole, worked hard to turn itself around since the height of the diamond wars and that governance is “much better today” than it used to be. Human rights watchdog Global Witness also says that “ significant progress ” has been made to curb the conflict diamond trade, although as Alice Harle, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness told Earther via email, diamonds do still fuel conflict, particularly in the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe.
Most industry observers seems to agree that the Kimberley Process is outdated and inadequate, and that more work is needed to stamp out other abuses, including child labor and forced labor, in the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector. Today, large-scale mining operations don’t tend to see these kinds of problems, according to Julianne Kippenberg , associate director for children’s rights at Human Rights Watch, but she notes that there may be other community impacts surrounding land rights and forced resettlement.
The flip side, Ali and Levin-Nally say, is that well-regulated mining operations can be an important source of economic development and livelihood. Ali cites Botswana and Russia as prime examples of places where large-scale mining operations have become “major contributors to the economy.” Dmitry Amelkin, head of strategic projects and analytics for Russian diamond mining giant Alrosa, echoed that sentiment in an email to Earther, noting that diamonds transformed Botswana “from one of the poorest [countries] in the world to a middle-income country” with revenues from mining representing almost a third of its GDP.
In May, a report commissioned by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), a trade organization representing the world’s largest diamond mining companies, estimated that worldwide, its members generate nearly $4 billion in direct revenue for employees and contractors, along with another $6.8 billion in benefits via “local procurement of goods and services.” DPA CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr said this was a story diamond miners need to do a better job telling.
“The industry has undergone such changes since the Blood Diamond movie,” he said, referring to the blockbuster 2006 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio that drew global attention to the problem of conflict diamonds. “And yet people’s’ perceptions haven’t evolved. I think the main reason is we have not had a voice, we haven’t communicated.”
But conflict and human rights abuses aren’t the only issues that have plagued the diamond industry. There’s also the lasting environmental impact of the mining itself. In the case of large-scale commercial mines, this typically entails using heavy machinery and explosives to bore deep into those kimberlite tubes in search of precious stones.
Some, like Maya Koplyova , a geologist at the University of British Columbia who studies diamonds and the rocks they’re found in, see this as far better than many other forms of mining. “The environmental footprint is the footprint of digging the hole in the ground and crushing [the rock],” Koplyova said, noting that there’s no need to add strong acids or heavy metals like arsenic (used in gold mining) to liberate the gems.
MIRNY, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 1, 2018: A view of a kimberlite pipe of the Mir diamond mine of ALROSA’s Mirny Mining and Processing Division (MPD). Photo: Alexander RyuminTASS via Getty Images Still, those holes can be enormous. The Mir Mine , a now-abandoned open pit mine in Eastern Siberia , is so large—reportedly stretching 3,900 feet across and 1,700 feet deep —that the Russian government has declared it a no-fly zone owing to the pit’s ability to create dangerous air currents. It’s visible from space .
While companies will often rehabilitate other land to offset the impact of mines, kimberlite mining itself typically leaves “a permanent dent in the earth’s surface,” as a 2014 report by market research company Frost & Sullivan put it.
“It’s a huge impact as far as I’m concerned,” said Kevin Krajick , senior editor for science news at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who wrote a book on the discovery of diamonds in far northern Canada. Krajick noted that in remote mines, like those of the far north, it’s not just the physical hole to consider, but all the development required to reach a previously-untouched area, including roads and airstrips, roaring jets and diesel-powered trucks.
Diamonds grown in factories clearly have a smaller physical footprint. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, they also use less water and create less waste. It’s for these reasons that Ali thinks diamond mining “will never be able to compete” with lab-grown diamonds from an environmental perspective.
“The mining industry should not even by trying to do that,” he said.
Of course, this is capitalism, so try to compete is exactly what the DPA is now doing. That same recent report that touted the mining industry’s economic benefits also asserts that mined diamonds have a carbon footprint three times lower than that of lab-grown diamonds, on average. The numbers behind that conclusion, however, don’t tell the full story.
Growing diamonds does take considerable energy. The exact amount can vary greatly, however, depending on the specific nature of the growth process. These are details manufacturers are typically loathe to disclose, but Payne of Ada Diamonds says he estimates the most efficient players in the game today use about 250 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity per cut, polished carat of diamond; roughly what a U.S. household consumes in 9 days. Other estimates run higher. Citing unnamed sources, industry publication JCK Online reported that a modern HPHT run can use up to 700 kWh per carat, while CVD production can clock in north of 1,000 kWh per carat.
Pulling these and several other public-record estimates, along with information on where in the world today’s lab diamonds are being grown and the energy mix powering the producer nations’ electric grids, the DPA-commissioned study estimated that your typical lab-grown diamond results in some 511 kg of carbon emissions per cut, polished carat. Using information provided by mining companies on fuel and electricity consumption, along with other greenhouse gas sources on the mine site, it found that the average mined carat was responsible for just 160 kg of carbon emissions.
One limitation here is that the carbon footprint estimate for mining focused only on diamond production, not the years of work entailed in developing a mine. As Ali noted, developing a mine can take a lot of energy, particularly for those sited in remote locales where equipment needs to be hauled long distances by trucks or aircraft.
Uncut diamond (left) next to a cut, polished diamond (right), both created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther) There’s also the question of just how representative the report’s energy consumption estimates for lab-grown diamonds are. While he wouldn’t offer a specific number, Coe said that De Beers’ Group diamond manufacturer Element Six—arguably the most advanced laboratory-grown diamond company in the world—has “substantially lower” per carat energy requirements than the headline figures found inside the new report. When asked why this was not included, Rick Lord, ESG analyst at Trucost, the S&P global group that conducted the analysis, said it chose to focus on energy estimates in the public record, but that after private consultation with Element Six it did not believe their data would “materially alter” the emissions estimates in the study.
Finally, it’s important to consider the source of the carbon emissions. While the new report states that about 40 percent of the emissions associated with mining a diamond come from fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment, emissions associated with growing a diamond come mainly from electric power. Today, about 68 percent of lab-grown diamonds hail from China, Singapore, and India combined according to Zimisky, where the power is drawn from largely fossil fuel-powered grids. But there is, at least, an opportunity to switch to renewables and drive that carbon footprint way down.
“The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption.” And some companies do seem to be trying to do that. Anderson of MiaDonna says the company only sources its diamonds from facilities in the U.S., and that it’s increasingly trying to work with producers that use renewable energy. Lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry grows its stones inside plasma reactors running “as hot as the outer layer of the sun,” per its website , and while it wouldn’t offer any specific numbers, that presumably uses more energy than your typical operation running at lower temperatures. However, company spokesperson Ye-Hui Goldenson said its Washington State ‘megacarat factory’ was cited near a well-maintained hydropower source so that the diamonds could be produced with renewable energy. The company offsets other fossil fuel-driven parts of its operation by purchasing carbon credits.
Lightbox’s diamonds currently come from Element Six’s UK-based facilities. The company is, however, building a $94-million facility near Portland, Oregon, that’s expected to come online by 2020. Coe said he estimates about 45 percent of its power will come from renewable sources.
“The reality is both mining and manufacturing consume energy and probably the best thing we could do is focus on reducing energy consumption,” Coe said. “That’s something we’re focused on in Lightbox.”
In spite of that, Lightbox is somewhat notable among lab-grown diamond jewelry brands in that, in the words of Morrison, it is “not claiming this to be an eco-friendly product.”
“While it is true that we don’t dig holes in the ground, the energy consumption is not insignificant,” Morrison told Earther. “And I think we felt very uncomfortable promoting on that.”
Various diamonds created in a lab, as seen at the Ada Diamonds showroom in Manhattan. Photo: Sam Cannon (Earther) The real real The fight over how lab-grown diamonds can and should market themselves is still heating up.
On March 26, the FTC sent letters to eight lab-grown and diamond simulant companies warning them against making unsubstantiated assertions about the environmental benefits of their products—its first real enforcement action after updating its jewelry guides last year. The letters, first obtained by JCK news director Rob Bates under a Freedom of Information Act request, also warned companies that their advertising could falsely imply the products are mined diamonds, illustrating that, even though the agency now says a lab-grown diamond is a diamond, the specific origin remains critically important. A letter to Diamond Foundry, for instance, notes that the company has at times advertised its stones as “above-ground real” without the qualification of “laboratory-made.” It’s easy to see how a consumer might miss the implication.
But in a sense, that’s what all of this is: A fight over what’s real.
“It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in. They are a type of diamond.” Another letter, sent to FTC attorney Reenah Kim by the nonprofit trade organization Jewelers Vigilance Committee on April 2, makes it clear that many in the industry still believe that’s a term that should be reserved exclusively for gems formed inside the Earth. The letter, obtained by Earther under FOIA, urges the agency to continue restricting the use of the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” and “semi-precious” to Earth-mined diamonds and gemstones. Even the use of such terms in conjunction with “laboratory grown,” the letter argues, “will create even more confusion in an already confused and evolving marketplace.”
JVC President Tiffany Stevens told Earther that the letter was a response to a footnote in an explanatory document about the FTC’s recent jewelry guide changes, which suggested the agency was considering removing a clause about real, precious, natural and genuine only being acceptable modifiers for gems mined from the Earth.
“We felt that given the current commercial environment, that we didn’t think it was a good time to take that next step,” Stevens told Earther. As Stevens put it, the changes the FTC recently made, including expanding the definition of diamond and tweaking the descriptors companies can use to label laboratory-grown diamonds as such, have already been “wildly misinterpreted” by some lab-grown diamond sellers that are no longer making the “necessary disclosures.”
Asked whether the JVC thinks lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, Stevens demurred.
“It’s a nuanced reality that we’re in,” she said. “They are a type of diamond.”
Change is afoot in the diamond world. Mined diamond production may have already peaked , according to the 2018 Bain & Company report. Lab diamonds are here to stay, although where they’re going isn’t entirely clear. Ziminsky expects that in a few years—as Lightbox’s new facility comes online and mass production of lab diamonds continues to ramp up overseas—the price industry-wide will fall to about 80 percent less than a mined diamond. At that point, he wonders whether lab-grown diamonds will start to lose their sparkle.
Payne isn’t too worried about a price slide, which he says is happening across the diamond industry and which he expects will be “linear, not exponential” on the lab-grown side. He points out that lab-grown diamond market is still limited by supply, and that the largest lab-grown gems remain quite rare . Payne and Ziminsky both see the lab-grown diamond market bifurcating into cheaper, mass-produced gems and premium-quality stones sold by those that can maintain a strong brand. A sense that they’re selling something authentic and, well, real.
“So much has to do with consumer psychology,” Zimnisky said.
Some will only ever see diamonds as authentic if they formed inside the Earth. They’re drawn, as Kathryn Money , vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth put it, to “the history and romanticism” of diamonds; to a feeling that’s sparked by holding a piece of our ancient world. To an essence more than a function.
Others, like Anderson, see lab-grown diamonds as the natural (to use a loaded word) evolution of diamond. “We’re actually running out of [mined] diamonds,” she said. “There is an end in sight.” Payne agreed, describing what he sees as a “looming death spiral” for diamond mining.
Mined diamonds will never go away. We’ve been digging them up since antiquity, and they never seem to lose their sparkle. But most major mines are being exhausted. And with technology making it easier to grow diamonds just as they are getting more difficult to extract from the Earth, the lab-grown diamond industry’s grandstanding about its future doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable.
There’s a reason why, as Payne said, “the mining industry as a whole is still quite scared of this product.”
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In June 1969, engineers turned off the water in the American Niagara Falls.
The FBI Found These Cybercriminals Because They Were Advertising Their Skills Online When you think of the summer of ’69, Vietnam protests, Woodstock, landing on the moon, and Bryan Adams may come to mind. But a lot happened from an environmental perspective, too. The Cuyahoga River caught on fire (again), there was an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California , and the National Environmental Policy Act was created. One of the most intriguing events of the year, though, flew under the radar: turning off Niagara’s American Falls. On several prior occasions, the falls had slowed to a temporary halt because of ice. But starting in June 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dewatered the American Falls—the smaller of the two main cataracts that make up Niagara Falls—to investigate the feasibility of giving it a facelift. And it may happen again: In 2016, the Niagara Frontier State ParkCommissionannounced that it hoped to shut off the American Falls within the next few years. The reason this time: to repair the old bridges that take tourists from the New York state mainland to Goat Island. (This scheme depends on the requisite funding coming through, and that seems far from certain, though a representative from the commission tells me that they are still hoping it will happen.) Treating a natural wonder like a faucet may seem alarming. But wonderful though it may be, Niagara Falls is hardly natural. Over the course of the 20 th century, the United States and Canada repeatedly cooperated to alter the great cataract. As the birthplace of large-scale hydroelectrical production and distribution, Niagara Falls attracted companies responsible for the majority of the nation’s electrochemical and aluminum output. Water diverted from above the waterfall, then dropped to the lower gorge, was liquid gold. Well before the end of the 19 th century, steps had been taken to reclaim the falls area from the ravages of unbridled industrialism. Industry just shifted location to the downstream gorge. By the early 20 th century, enough water was being diverted that there were serious worries about the scenic appeal of the cataract. But, cried factory owners, these diversions were actually saving the falls from themselves: Reducing the water flow over the lip reduced the erosion that caused the falls to move back an average of about 4½ feet a year. Decades of transborder negotiations and studies ensued, aimed at finding a way of maximizing power production while minimizing the aesthetic impact so that tourism wasn’t harmed. Diplomatic agreements to apportion Niagara’s bounty were signed in 1929, 1932, and 1941. None, however, were ratified by the U.S. Congress. Water diversions kept increasing. Bigger hydroelectric stations—successively laying claim to the largest in the world—were built, with newer developments located even further downstream to receive the water that was now channeled through huge tunnels and conduits that ran under the sister cities flanking the gorge. Finally, in 1950 the U.S. and Canada inked a treaty to definitively deal with the tension of whether Niagara should produce power or beauty: It should be both. Or, at least, it should appear to be both. The Niagara River Water Diversion Treaty authorized the two nations to divert between half and three-quarters of the Niagara River’s water. Since then, even at the best of times, during tourist hours, only half of the water intended for the falls actually plunges over the brink. And if you are unlucky enough to arrive in the evening or winter, you are seeing but one-quarter of the water bequeathed to the falls of Niagara. Government planners were concerned about the aesthetics of the waterfall—especially the Horseshoe Falls, which are much bigger than the American Falls and primarily in Canadian territory. The 1950 treaty therefore also contained provisions for various remedial works in the Niagara waters of both the United States and Canada: a control dam, weirs (submerged dams), excavations, fills, and so on. All these interventions would mask the visual consequences and reduce erosion. Engineers said their goal was to create an “impression of volume” going over the waterfall. This could be achieved by spreading out the flow more evenly along the lip of the cataract so that it still looked robust, even if much less water was passing over the brink. To do this, the Horseshoe Falls were dried out with cofferdams—the temporary structures that allow things to be built in the water—and the riverbed and cataract chiseled out and contoured. The crestline was shrunk about 15 percent by filling in the flanks of the waterfall.Those reclaimed areas are today’s prime viewing areas. Much of it was planned on high-precision scale models of Niagara that filled entire warehouses. You might say that they were just turning the original waterfall into a very large-scale model. In the jargon of enviro-tech historians, the waterfall was a hybrid infrastructure combining the organic and the mechanical. But Americans soon grew jealous that the Canadian waterfall had received a makeover, especially considering that tourists and honeymooners had already been heading to that side in greater numbers. Moreover, a series of rock falls from the American Falls had added to the talus—the huge pile of rock debris that formed at the base—making it more of a stepped cascade than a sheer drop. In response, in 1965, leading citizens of Niagara Falls, New York, jump-started a campaign to preserve and enhance the beauty of the American Falls. They wanted to make Niagara look more like itself. In response, Canada and the U.S. asked the International Joint Commission, the bilateral body that oversees U.S.-Canada border waters, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to investigate and report on measures necessary to preserve or enhance the beauty of the American Falls, specifically with regard to the talus. Was it feasible to remove the 280,000 cubic yards of talus that had grown to more than half of the height of the falls at some points? To find out, in 1969, the American Falls were shut off from June to December. (See this video of the dry falls.) Some 27,000 tons of rock and earth were dumped upstream to create a 600-foot long cofferdam from the mainland to Goat Island. Millions of coins and even some bodies were found in the dry rock bed. Over time people forgot what Niagara Falls looked like in its unadulterated state. While some in the Niagara tourism industry worried about a detrimental drop in the 5 million people who visited annually, others thought that the waterfall renovation might actually increase tourism. (At least one newspaper editor thought this campaign to “save the Falls” from an impending “death” was a concoction meant to boost tourism and the area’s economic prospects. He was largely right. ) Though many people did come for the express purpose of seeing what was hailed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, in the end, the pessimists were proven correct, since tourism significantly declined in 1969. (This may be because people thought incorrectly that both the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls wouldn’t be in operation.) Government planners considered the outright removal of the talus, as well as the placement of a dam downstream from the falls that would raise the Maid of the Mist pool and drown the talus (which would, of course, shrink the vertical height of the falls). The Corps of Engineers concluded that the talus was likely propping up the face of the American Falls. Based on this, as well as public input sessions and an estimated price tag of approximately $26 million, the International Joint Commission decided in 1974 against talus removal. But the dewatering wasn’t all for nothing: Engineers used the opportunity to stabilize the rock face of the American Falls with bolts, cables, and anchors, while installing electronic rockslide sensors. The decision to leave the American Falls mostly alone was tied to the fact that the International Joint Commission wasn’t sure whether most tourists would really notice a major difference even if the talus was gone, plus the local interests that had initially pushed for the dewatering in hopes of stimulating tourism now thought that a dried waterfall would actually be bad for business. But abstaining also spoke to a conspicuous shift in attitudes, stimulated by the burgeoning environmental movement, about turning nature into infrastructure. To the International Joint Commission, it seemed “wrong to make the Falls static and unnatural, like an artificial waterfall in a garden or a park,” and the fundamental conclusion of the commission’s report was that “man should not interfere with the natural process.” By comparison to 1969, contemporary plans to turn off the American Falls to fix a few bridges constitute a fairly minor, though probably unnecessary , intervention. Niagara Falls has already been heavily manipulated. The real waterfall—by volume, at least—is now in the penstocks of the massive hydropower stations downstream. Over time people forgot what Niagara Falls looked like in its unadulterated state. Nonetheless, the diminished falls are, honestly, still impressive to behold. Stand on the cusp of the cataract, and the power that claims some 25 lives per year is still manifest.
Tears, honesty and flirty games: how we escaped our married sex rut
After 15 years and three children, my husband and I found ourselves stuck in an ‘intimacy impasse’. Could a therapist help us sizzle again?. I t’s usually when I have my head in the dishwasher that my husband will come up and say, “Hey love, do you fancy a cuddle tonight?” I don’t know how, but somehow “cuddle” has, over the years, become the cute (but loaded) word for sex in our house. And I, often wanting just a cuddle – one that doesn’t involve an erection, merely a straight up, PG cuddle – often simply clam up.
We have a shared craving for closeness but opposing strategies to reach it. While Jim would happily shag his way to a chat, I want to chat my way to a shag. For him, physical connection fuels the emotional, while for me the emotional is paramount for the physical to ensue – and all of this has led us to an intimacy impasse. A sex rut.
The courtship around sex has become an outlandish dance – one that neither of us seems to know the steps to any more. It’s like we are speaking two languages. And neither is that keen to become fluent in the other person’s tongue. After 15 years together and three children (10, 8, 6) we both need intimacy, we even know it’s there waiting to be accessed, but somehow we’ve forgotten how to.
Mornings start with bad moods. My partner huffs and puffs and carries the disappointment of needs not met downstairs, and then on into his day. At times, leaving the house for work deflated, shoulders slumped, other times propelling his hurt back on to me, by being a little distant – sometimes for days.
I, meanwhile, feel saddened, angry and somewhat “less than” for not being able to keep up with his appetite. I also feel ungenerous for not being able to simply give a little – on days where I’m not in the mood – if it means so much to him. One side feels hurt, the other guilty. So after yet another argument on the topic, where pillows are plumped a little too aggressively, I suggest we seek help.
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Jim is reluctant at first, feeling we should be able to lift ourselves out of the sticky swamp of sex-communication without external assistance. If it were that easy, I answer, we wouldn’t be playing out the same scenario on repeat. The thought of being stuck in this pattern years from now terrifies Jim enough to look beyond his “what kind of a couple needs help to deal with their sex life?” misgivings and we agree to see someone.
I find Meredith Reynolds, a sex coach and educator, online. Her website looks friendly and professional, but what wins me over is the sentence: “I work with people to help them become more present in their bodies [yes please] and more connected to their erotic selves.” Sign me up.
Since having kids, my breasts and vagina have been mauled, stretched, bitten, chewed and bruised – threefold. Often, I don’t seem to know when I want touch or, if I want it at all, what kind of touch I want. Sometimes, any touch – a peck when I’m standing by the fridge, a warm caress between the thighs in bed – just feels intrusive. And that’s hard to say to the person you love.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘Sometimes, any touch – a peck when you’re standing by the fridge – feels intrusive. And that’s hard to say to the person you love’. Photograph: Guardian Design Team
On the flipside, Jim, who would happily be intimate every day, blossoms like a water lily at dawn when we have sex, radiating warmth and tenderness, genuinely skipping out of the door. The world is a good place and everyone is safe. But not every day is show time.
Before having a session with Reynolds, we individually fill out a short form about the wonderful and difficult things in our sex life. Writing about our intimacy makes our “problems” a living, breathing thing that exists beyond our bedroom walls.
Our answers are used as the basis for an initial phone consultation. During our three-way chat, it becomes clear that Jim is frustrated with the inconsistency of our sex life. He feels rejected and annoyed about intimacy only happening when I say it’s on. He’d like to explore more, and understand my lack of desire.
Meanwhile, I realise I am mourning the sensual person I once was, the one full of desire, who was happy to attend Cake sex parties (promoting female sexual pleasure) and explore her body freely, the one before births and late miscarriages. That person is dormant.
Two weeks later, Jim and I ring the doorbell at a Victorian house in London. Reynolds gives us a heartfelt welcome, and ushers us into the therapy room downstairs. Sitting on pouffes in a warm room suffused with incense, we take in our surroundings. I clock a long truncheon, a sort of Goliath-sized dildo perhaps, behind the door. On the ceiling are metal eyelets. Gulp.
Reynolds says: “I share this room with another practitioner.” Phew, let’s save that truncheon for his clients. We begin the session by talking. Jim and I lay bare our hurts and pains and stand metaphorically naked, at our most vulnerable. And yet we feel safe. It feels good to talk openly in a space without judgment, without right or wrong. I cry when I realise there is still trauma in my body from the miscarriages we’d suffered. I feel like hugging myself, and also him for everything that we’ve been through.
Within minutes I feel more in my body than I have for a long time. Relaxed. Grounded
Before we move on to practical exercises, Reynolds emphasises that no one has to take their clothes off or do anything they don’t want to. We start with simple breathing. Within minutes I feel more in my body than I have for a long time. Relaxed. Grounded. Capable of hearing my own wants and desires. I have arrived back in my skin somehow. There may even have been a tingle in my groin. Then we “wake up the hands”. We choose a small object from a selection Reynolds displays, which includes a smooth stone and a piece of fur-like fabric, and are asked to explore it, the weight, the texture, its temperature, to run it along our hands, our arms – an act of body mindfulness. And it’s working.
But the real game-changer is being introduced to the Wheel of Consent, devised by the American sex coach Betty Martin . This is the notion that when we are sexual, we move between different zones and often are not aware what zone we are in. Are we giving or receiving? Taking or allowing? Reynolds clarifies: “If one person in a couple says, ‘Would you like a foot rub?’ but actually, they’re hoping it will lead to sex, well, that’s giving with an agenda – which the receiver can feel isn’t true giving.”
We get to grips with this concept by playing the three-minute game, which involves asking each other two questions in turn, each an offer: How would you like me to touch you for three minutes? And, how would you like to touch me for three minutes? Confused? So are we, but humour and light-heartedness begins to enter the room, and with it a deep connection. We get excited to explore the possibilities within the game.
My wife believes it is normal to lose interest in sex post-menopause – but I disagree Read more
Reynolds says: “It’s like what happens with an orchestra. When we get clear on who touch is for – sometimes the receiver of the touch, sometimes the doer – focusing on the individual instruments in practice means that the whole thing can come together with clarity and beauty.” During one of the three-minute exercises, I focus on Jim’s armpit, an area as yet under-explored, and notice that his armpit hair feels really awesome on my lips, and Jim discovers that, when permission is asked and trust established, pretty much anything goes. Reynolds explains, “As trust deepens, we can take more risks, ask for what we want. And part of trust-deepening is knowing that we can say “no”, and that we can hear “no” and be OK – this opens up so many delicious possibilities.”
We are given homework. Mine is to be clear about what I want, eg: “No thanks, darling. I really want to have a bath tonight,” Jim’s is to sit with the “No” and not throw it back at me. We are both to discuss when there might be a possibility of sex in the week, or POS as we’ve now coined it, the POS never being binding. We are encouraged to play the three-minute game at home, which we now do often.
Since our session with Reynolds, touch is laced with humour, rather than a sense of heaviness. Jim’s new approach, “Permission to touch fanny?” makes me laugh, and with laughter comes looseness. And occasionally this leads to sex. And when it doesn’t, it’s fine too. Because at least we’ve had a cuddle – a bona fide, PG one.
Liz and Jim’s names have been changed
Topics Sex and intimacy: a user’s guide Relationships Sex Sexuality features
Maldives Tour Hints
(Created page with “Maldives tourism offers you several of the top moments that you can never forget in your entire life. Maldives tourism is full of unique and strange experiences. With the sun,…”) (No difference) Latest revision as of 13:10, 19 May 2019
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