Diamond attracts considerable attention as a versatile and technologically useful material. For many demanding applications, such as recently emerged quantum optics and sensing, it is important to develop new routes for fabrication of diamond containing defects with specific optical, electronic and magnetic properties. Here we report on successful synthesis of diamond from a germanium-carbon system at conditions of 7GPa and 1,500-1,800°C. Both spontaneously nucleated diamond crystals and diamond growth layers on seeds were produced in experiments with reaction time up to 60h. We found that diamonds synthesized in the Ge-C system contain a new optical centre with a ZPL system at 2.059eV, which is assigned to germanium impurities. Photoluminescence from this centre is dominated by zero-phonon optical transitions even at room temperature. Our results have widened the family of non-metallic elemental catalysts for diamond synthesis and demonstrated the creation of germanium-related optical centres in diamond.