Leonardo DiCaprio is splurging on some bling for his birthday. The actor and environmental activist, who turned 41 on Wednesday, announced on social media the same day his investment in Diamond Foundry, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup that claims to grow “100 percent pure, 100 percent sustainable” diamonds using a plasma-culturing process that leaves virtually no carbon footprint. “Our founding team of MIT, Stanford, and Princeton engineers previously developed pioneering breakthroughs in solar power technology—and had a hunch that techniques used to harness the energy of the sun could also be used to make a better diamond, atom by atom,” the company explains on its website.
Since diamonds are “born from a fiery heat,” the scientists set out to mimic those conditions using plasma reactors that allow atoms to attach themselves to a sliver of earth-extracted diamond. Piggybacking atop the earth diamond’s crystalline structure, the atoms grow layer by layer until they result in a “pure, cultured, jewelry-grade diamond,” the firm says.
Other ways Diamond Foundry is differentiating itself from the competition? Besides using solar-power credits to whittle its ecological impact to zero, the company is also launching an online marketplace that allows its passel of mostly independent designers to receive all of their jewelry’s profits.
Still, Diamond Foundry considers its product’s conflict-free provenance its biggest achievement—a sentiment that DiCaprio, who earned a Oscar nomination for his role in the 2006 film Blood Diamond, shares.
“I’m proud to invest in Diamond Foundry—a company that is reducing the human and environmental toll of the diamond industry—by sustainably culturing diamonds without the destructive use of mining,” DiCaprio wrote on Facebook.