What a fantastic year it has been for MiaDonna, The Greener Diamond Foundation, and the Lab-Grown Diamond industry at-large. We have pushed boundaries and broken old traditions to create a greener diamond industry. Here's a recap of 2016:
The Greener Diamond Foundation
In late May I traveled to Liberia, Africa to check on our current Greener Diamond Foundation projects and to film our new MiaDonna Commercial. It is always so incredibly humbling to visit these diamond mining regions and to see and meet the children and communities benefiting from consumers choosing conflict-free.
My first stop was to visit Ponpon. He is the seventeen-year-old boy that I started sponsoring (then seven-years-old) when I first found out I had most likely purchased a conflict diamond. It was through our letters that I got a first-hand look at what it was like for a child to grow up in a diamond mining community. I decided my sponsorship needed to be scaled to make a real difference. That is when I got the idea for MiaDonna and The Greener Diamond Foundation – a system that would together to help other children like Ponpon.
I made it a point to visit the slums of West Point, Monrovia, which has long had a reputation for crime and depravity.
In August 2014, the area began its fight against the Ebola virus and was cordoned off by the police and the military in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. The epidemic drew attention to the living conditions in West Point, where most people have limited access to water, food, and electricity. Wooden toilets hang from stilts over the river and piles of trash shadow living quarters, amplifying the spread of disease.
It was a very intimidating experience entering West Point. We had body guards and needed to get permission to enter from the rebel leaders. We gave out as many school supplies as we could, but it's still not enough, this is an area desperate for our help.
Following West Point, and on a much more positive note, I visited our new farm. The farm is attached to an orphanage and had been relying on aid and begging to feed the children. However, with new livestock and a thriving farm they are finally self-sustainable.
It's really exciting to see the progress we are making and what we are able to achieve simply because diamond consumers have made the conscious choice to purchase conflict-free from MiaDonna.
"I humbly and respectfully thank each and every MiaDonna customer because you made this happen."
In July, MiaDonna made a list of Oregon's Fastest-Growing Private 100 Companies (for the 3rd time!). I'm so thankful for my MiaDonna team and everyone that has supported my mission to create a greener diamond industry.
In November we launched MiaDonna’s world’s largest Grown-in-the-USA laboratory diamond! This exciting announcement has been ten years in the making. When I founded MiaDonna, our technology only allowed us to grow diamonds yellow in color and up to about 0.25 carats in size. I knew a day would come when we could consistently grow diamonds in a modern-day lab environment that are far better than anything we could get out of the earth, and that day is today! Our scientists have grown, right here in the USA, a colorless 6.28 carat lab-grown diamond, representing a true technological breakthrough.
After decades of research and development, our scientists can now precisely replicate the earth’s natural process of crystallizing carbon into brilliant diamonds that are chemically, optically and physically identical to earth-mined diamonds. These grown diamonds are priced anywhere from 30 to 40% less than an equivalent earth-mined diamond, are eco-friendly and guaranteed conflict-free.
"We are doing things today that I only dreamt of doing ten years ago."
2017 officially marks MiaDonna's ten-year anniversary. To celebrate this huge milestone, we're excited to announce the launch of our new state-of-the-art website in early January, and my very own engagement ring collection in early 2017.
So get ready for a big year. We're only just beginning to shake up the diamond industry!