Man is dust and unto dust he shall be returned… before
being made into a diamond.
Death is the only certain thing in life. Whether we like it or not, we all die at some point and our bodies need to go somewhere. Either they’re buried to feed the earth, or burned and set free in the sky. Or at least, that’s what the options used to be. Now there’s another option, something that brings new meaning to the term ‘precious as a gem’. Yes, when you die, you could have your body turned into a diamond.
From film stars to pop culture icons and wedding rings throughout the ages, everyone loves a diamond. The stones are as precious as they are priceless. But the diamonds we’re talking about now have even more value to the people left behind when someone dies. Why? Because they’re made from their ashes. Now when a loved one dies, you can carry them around your neck on as a sparkler on your ring finger forever.
From ashes to a priceless jewel
It sounds like a strange idea, maybe even a little impossible, but read on.
We know that diamonds are formed by exposing highly organised carbon to high temperature and pressure. In the same manner, human and even pet ashes, a natural source of carbon, can also be turned into diamonds that can be worn and cherished for generations. These ashes undergo a chemical process that extracts their carbon which is then heated to convert it into graphite. The graphite is again subjected to high temperatures exceeding 1000s of degrees and about 870,000 pounds per square inch, which turns it into diamonds. They vary in colour as well thanks to the boron content of the ashes, which can make them anything from white to dark blue.
Extraction of carbon from a single cremated human body can result in as many as 50 gems, which can weigh up to one carat or around 100 diamonds of smaller sizes. A person weighing in at 80 kilograms can produce 2.5 kilos of ashes which is then turned into about 0.2 grams of diamond. Additional carbon may be added in the process when the carbon produced is not sufficient enough. These diamonds, which are synthetic in nature, are known as memorial diamonds.
How Much Does the Process Cost?
They’re not cheap, ranging in price from $3,500 for a 0.2-0.29 carat stone to about $20,000 for stones which weigh 0.9-0.99 carats. Diamonds made from pets have similar price tags as those that are made from humans.
Genuinely and precisely crafted
Memorial diamonds are created using a unique and precise crafting process. The whole thing, from cremation to the chemical process, will take 6 months for yellow LifeGem diamonds and 9 months for blue diamonds. Boron impurities in carbon will usually affect the weight and color of the diamonds that are produced. But the process has also been modified by some companies to produce multi-colored diamonds like yellow, blue, green, red and white. Iron composition means the stones to be magnetic in nature. As well as creating the diamond, the companies that make memorial diamonds can cut them in a style of your choice, such as the round brilliant cut, the radiant and princess cuts.
The memorial diamond creators can attest to its authenticity as each piece has a laser inscription of a GIA certification serial number, stone color description and a certificate.
The process itself is handled in such a way that preserves the respect for the departed and at the same time helping the family as they navigate through the mourning process. The diamonds are manually processed and meticulously handled. They are never exposed, are carefully cared for and are mostly covered with a polished wooden box in respect to the dead loved one. Such a unique and unusual way to remember your loved ones, memorial diamonds are changing the way some people think about death.
The Beethoven’s Memorial Diamond
In 2007, the Ludwig Ban Beethoven’s Memorial Diamond was completed and auctioned off. It was a a blue round brilliant diamond, the first ever diamond that was created from the carbon of a popular figure with historical significance. Ten strands of hair from Ludwig van Beethoven created three diamonds which produced about 130 mg of reinforced carbon. One of those diamonds was auctioned on E-bay at a price of about $1,000,000.00, only to be sold for $202,700. The proceeds from the sale were donated to the underprivileged children. The other diamond was given to the provider of the hair sample while the last one remained with the company that created the diamond.
This notion has changed perspectives about mourning and how people bury their dead. The process has really changed the feeling that death is an ending, during which things finish and nothing is really created. By comparison to these societal ideas, memorial diamonds are a new beginning for those who are no longer with us, and a way that their loved ones can keep them close to their hearts. They won’t ease the pain or your loss, nor bring back your loved one, but they are a unique memory to carry with you that may lighten the burden a little.
Who Does This?
There are a growing number of companies now that will offer this service for the deceased. Here is a broad list: