Greta Thunberg might think that she’s the one setting an example to the next generation on green issues, but she’s got a long way to go before she can go head to head with the master:

What is a “sustainable diamond”, anyway?

Well, apparently it’s grown in a lab. Here’s some marketing speak from one of the main websites pushing them, which seems to be targeted at the rich and famous people with a very public social conscience:

“Using traditionally mined diamonds didn’t sit right with us; they change hands too many times, so there’s no guarantee that what you’re receiving is conflict-free.

Fortunately, there’s a new way. Diamonds, sustainably grown through technology in Silicon Valley. Diamond Foundry is growing real diamonds with the same beautiful characteristics as mined diamonds, but done the right way. So we joined forces to disrupt this ‘closed-door’ industry, creating positive and sustainable change along the way.”

In other words, they’re expensive fakes. This one, for example, will set you back about seventy-three thousand US dollars.

If you wanted to wear fake diamonds to the Oscars and get snooty about it online, you could probably pick some good-looking ones made of glass up for a few hundred quid and very few people would know the difference. But that wouldn’t really make the same point, would it?

And ethical gold?

“First of all, yes, there is unethical gold, or “dirty gold”. In fact, very few methods of sourcing gold can actually be considered ethical. Unethical gold refers to gold that is sourced from mines whose workers are subject to inhumane and dangerous working conditions. It can also refer to gold whose origins are unknown, and, since it cannot definitively be classified as ethical, it ends up falling under the umbrella of unethical.”

That’s a neat trick, isn’t it? If you aren’t 100% sure where your gold comes from, it might be unethical. The only guarantee you have is to pay a bit more. And if you pay a bit more, well, you get to tweet it out on Oscar night.

What’s astonishing about this story is that Jane Fonda actually seems to think that she’s a better person than the average Josephine Soap because she paid a bit more for her jewellery.

Generally, moralising isn’t my thing, but there are about four hundred quadrillion ways that she could have used that money to actually help people, and worn very little to no jewellery to the Oscars at all. Does she help more people by wearing that stuff, or by just taking the money she was going to spend on it, and giving it to a homeless shelter? Or a home for stray cats? Or cancer research?

And then of course there’s the self-regarding public need to announce her own virtue – the “here I am, being a good person” tweet. There’s an old belief that charity and good works should be performed quietly, and anonymously, without seeking praise or credit for them. If Fonda wants to know her diamonds don’t come from some blood mine in Eritrea, good for her. But that doesn’t make her any better or worse than the actress on the other side of the red carpet who’s wearing a necklace her boyfriend bought for her.

She’s not a better person than any of the rest of us. She’s just an old lady wearing expensive jewellery and trying to get credit for it.

Pull the other one, Jane.