Short of getting a taste for Blue Whale blubber or fillet of gorilla, it’s hard to think of a single consumer item that is as ethically dubious as diamonds.
The industry is plagued by “blood diamonds” which are mined in appalling conditions in nations such as Congo, and then exported illegally. The violence caused by factions warring over control of these diamonds goes seriously under-reported.
There is also the issue of rarity. Actually, diamonds are not particularly rare. Instead, the industry controls the world’s diamond trade, creates an artificial scarcity by acquiring new mines and carefully limits the flow of diamonds into the market to keep the price sky-high.
And what is really bizarre is that diamonds are just lumps of carbon. They can be made artificially to the very highest quality. Which is why, although it’s one of our quirkier Wonga Future 50 entrants, we think KinetIQue has serious potential to change a major market.
In essence, KinetIQue sells lab-created artificial diamonds that are identical to “natural” diamonds. The husband-and-wife team behind the firm, Jason and Elaine Foreman, tell us: “Our IQ Diamond is made in a laboratory where only electricity is needed and our precious metals are eco-friendly and/or recycled. No devastated ecosystems are associated with it and no-one loses an arm, a leg or a life. Our mission is to change the understanding most of us have about diamonds by offering plenty of truthful facts and an honestly, ethically priced real alternative to earth mined diamonds.” Their IQ Diamond is cheaper than a natural diamond and comes with none of the ethical concerns. Their motto is “kind, not mined”.
It’s a very small, local business, but we like the combination of campaigning and innovation. It’s the kind of disruptive outlook being applied across our 50 companies this year.