As a humanitarian and environmental activist, Lily had for a long time a controversial relationship with gems extracted from under the skin of our planet. In this interview, she is joined by the founder of Skydiamond, Dale Vince and photographer Rankin, to explain to our editor Julia Pasarón how we can turn the industry into an agent for positive change in the efforts to combat climate change.
Diamonds are made of pure carbon, and thanks to pollution, we have plenty of it in our atmosphere. Lily Cole learnt about the company making diamonds out of thin air – Skydiamond – when researching for her book, Who Cares Wins: How to Protect the Planet you Love. “Diamonds are synonymous with beauty,” declares Lily, “but for many years the mining of jewels has been a very ugly business.” Lily’s concern is not new. As early as 2005, she announced that she would no longer model for De Beers after being alerted to the situation of the Kalahari Bushmen being evicted from their lands in Botswana.
– Lily Cole
Being able to mine the sky represents the perfect metaphor of how we ought
to be evolving every industry in the face of the climate crisis…
“Being able to mine the sky represents the perfect metaphor of how we ought to be evolving every industry in the face of the climate crisis: carbon negative by design; a solution rather than a problem. That’s why I became such a supporter of Skydiamond’s mission,” she says. In fact, for quite some time, Lily has been calling for an end to traditional diamond mining and advocating for sustainable fashion. “Scientists tell us we have to not only reduce carbon emissions, but also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” she explains. “There are many ways to do this, from nature itself to artificial trees and other high-tech solutions; mining the sky instead of the Earth to produce diamonds is one of them. Such a crazy and amazing concept!”
– Lily Cole
If I am going to help sell something, it has to be something I believe in…
This is the over-simplified mental process that Dale Vince, founder of Skydiamond, followed to create the world’s first and only conflict-free diamonds made entirely from renewable energy. Dale has always been interested in sustainability. He is what we could call a green-tech pioneer. Dale is Chairman of Forest Green Rovers, recognised by United Nations as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club, and, before Skydiamond, he founded Ecotricity, a provider of fully sustainable energy.
– Dale Vince
I’d look at cars and wondered how much fuel we burnt in our everyday lives…
Dale’s interest in eco-friendly businesses started when he was a kid, when he spent a lot of time wondering about the sustainability of our way of life. “I’d look at cars and wondered how much fuel we burnt in our everyday lives,” he shares. This was the 1970s, a fuel thirsty decade if there has ever been one. As Lego Technic didn’t exist yet, Dale took to building his own stuff using batteries, which at the time were expensive, didn’t last long and had to be thrown away. “It all seemed to me a terrible waste of materials.”