I have a startup which aims to grow ethical diamonds in a laboratory. I came f…
I have a startup which aims to grow ethical diamonds in a laboratory.
I came from Japan to do my last two years of school in Armidale, at the same school where my mother had done an exchange 35 years earlier! Next, I got accepted into UNSW to study Material Science and Engineering. But because we had to do one subject out of our field, I also studied jewellery making, as I’ve always wanted to do things with my hands, and I love artsy stuff. And that led me to do an internship with a small jewellery manufacturer, which led to part time work and then, when I finished uni, I started working there full time.
One thing that had always interested me was making gemstones, especially diamonds. The diamond industry is really messed up – it’s connected to a lot of civil wars and other conflicts in Africa, as well as having a very negative impact on the environment, since it involves a huge mine site. Then I found out that diamonds can actually be made in a laboratory using greenhouse gas as a raw material, and that this is already being done in the US. But when I tried to find companies doing it in Australia to work with, I couldn’t find any! So I thought maybe I could do it using my knowledge in material science. That was the beginning of the startup journey for me.
Then, four months ago, I heard about the Catalysr program, a startup accelorator for migrants and refugees. I applied and got in, and over the past three months, I’ve been working on my business plan. Last Wednesday, I did my final pitch to some investors and mentors. It went pretty well – I actually got first prize and so I was very happy. My next step is to reach people planning to get married, and I have heard that a lot of weddings will be coming up soon because of the marriage equality law being passed!
I’ve been enjoying the journey so far. A lot of people think my life is a bit random because I don’t really plan too much. During my degree, they said, ‘You’re studying engineering. Why are you working with jewelIery?’ Then, when I finished, they said, ‘Now why don’t you get an engineering job?’
But I just follow what I love to do. I think that makes me unique.
Photographer: Simone Cheung www.facebook.com/simonecheungphotography
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