The traditional diamond mining process uproots thousands of rocks and earth, thereby destroying ecosystems and wildlife habitats. These are called “blood diamonds” as the process involves child labour, wherein children work under hazardous conditions and extremely low wages.
Moreover, it is estimated that at least 60% of mined diamonds sold in the US have problematic ties to military governments and corruption. This is where the climate tech startup and a certified B-Corp, Aether from New York, comes to play as it transforms air pollution into valuable materials and goods. It is the creator of the world’s first diamonds made from atmospheric carbon.
Aether has raised $18 million in a Series A funding round that was led by Helena, a global problem-solving organisation. With this, the total funding raised by the company is now $21 million.
The other investors that took part in the round include TRIREC alongside participation from SOUNDWaves (the sustainability-focused investment vehicle from Sound Ventures, founded by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary), Khosla Ventures, and Social Impact Capital.
Aether will use the investment to increase the headcount and scale up production to meet rapidly increasing market demand.
“Aether’s Series A will allow us to scale our carbon utilization technology and enact real and meaningful change in the market,” said Ryan Shearman, CEO and co-founder. “Aether has been fortunate to remain selective about whom we bring on as investors and Helena is a perfect match. Our values are deeply aligned. We are thrilled to be working together towards a shared vision for the future.”
Says Henry Elkus, Founder and CEO of Helena: “Aether has done this by creating an entirely new category of diamond using direct air carbon capture technology. Beyond supporting an industry critical to the climate crisis while simultaneously addressing multiple problems in the diamond space, Aether has forged an astounding product that stands alone. We are proud to share in such a monumental achievement and bring this more sustainable solution to consumers around the world.”
Besides the investment, Helena joins Aether as a strategic partner, utilising its vast network to support the company’s commercial expansion. The partnership will work on building Helena’s previous work in direct air carbon capture by increasing market demand for an industry that is critical to reaching Net Zero.
Furthermore, Matthew Saunders, Principal at Helena, has joined Aether’s board of directors. He leads the firm’s private investing activities, which target innovations that provide solutions to societal problems.
Diamonds made from CO2 emissions
Founded in 2018 by Ryan Shearman and Daniel Wojno, Aether transforms air pollution that would otherwise be warming the planet. It is 100% conflict-free and always makes decisions with the wellbeing of life on earth in mind.
It contributes to climate change with its breathtaking gem-quality diamonds. The company’s mission is to create a new category of diamonds having a positive impact on the planet. Aether began shipping its products to consumers in mid-2021.
Aether diamonds are atomically identical to their mined counterparts but do not have any harmful environmental or social impacts. It uses clean energy throughout its supply chain and the company’s proprietary diamond production process is the first commercialised process to have a net negative carbon footprint.
The US company has committed to removing 20 metric tonnes of CO2 from the air for every carat of diamond sold, which is enough to offset the average American’s carbon footprint by more than a year. As per the company, its process saves 127 gallons of freshwater used per mined carat. Besides this, the diamonds require only half the energy use of mined diamonds as these are sourced from sustainable energy providers instead of fossil fuels.