In 2011, Jason Payne and Lindsay Reinsmith went shopping for an engagement ring, but ran into what some might call a First World problem.
Given the problem of conflict diamonds — also known as blood diamonds, jewels mined from war zones or brutal insurgencies that ultimately fund those conflicts — "we were not comfortable using mined diamonds. We wanted something that was sustainable, ethical, vegan," Reinsmith told CNBC in a recent interview.
Then, a burst of inspiration hit the couple: Why not grow a stone in a laboratory, free from bloody wars and ethical conflicts that taint the $79 billion diamond industry?
From those early questions, Ada Diamonds — a start-up that provides lab-grown diamonds made through a special process using high pressure and temperature to make stones identical to those extracted from nature — was born. The husband and wife team raised a seed round from 8VC as well as Winklevoss Capital and Autonomous.
Ada Diamonds is part of a growing trend of diamond producers using environmentally sustainable, and ethical, means to produce jewels that don't have ties to insurgencies or politically unstable countries. Using a proprietary process, the company makes bespoke fine jewelry, with a focus on high fashion and bridal jewelry. Customers can custom order diamonds that contain mementos or mark special occasions, yet the entire process is ethically sourced.
"Ada is focused on educating consumers on the ethics of our diamonds. Ada is also vegan, which people may not realize," Reinsmith said.
"We don't demonize mined stones for what they are. The vast majority of our customers own natural diamonds, [but] this is an amazing alternative to mined diamonds," she added. "They are meaningful and can be grown through your own donor carbon. It's an opportunity to expand jewelry market in a unique and special way."