Turning Cremains Into Diamonds

By Joelle Renstrom | 7 years ago

diamond ashesHere’s something we never saw on Six Feet Under.

A Swiss company called Algordanza helps people “keep your loved one[s] presently close to your heart” by hiring them to turn the ashes of the dearly departed into wearable diamonds. The company has a process that mimics the high-pressure, high-temperature geological conditions that produce diamonds.

Algordanza founder and CEO Rinaldo Willy first conceived this idea 10 years ago, and has been working ever since to transform it into a reality. As of now, Algordanza’s got customers in over 20 countries (25% of the customers are from Japan) and processes the cremains of 800-900 people per year. At the end of that process, customers get diamonds made from their deceased love ones, which they can keep or wear as jewelry. People can even set up arrangements ahead of time to have their own cremains turned into diamonds. As the website touts, “For a brilliant memory, a brilliant gem.”

The diamonds are a bit different from conventional ones, in that they’re tinted blue due to the boron in human bodies. Every now and then, though, one of these diamonds will be white, yellow, or even black for reasons Algordanza can’t quite explain, other than to attribute the uniqueness of each diamond to the uniqueness of the person it once was.

Cremation is less expensive than most funerals, and the ashes-into-diamonds process is comparable to the cost of a funeral, running between $5,000-$22,000 per person. Like the lab process used to make synthetic diamonds, Algordanza’s process turns the ash into carbon and then puts it into a heat- and pressure-applying machine where it will stay for weeks. The longer the carbon stays in the machine, the bigger the diamond will be. After cooling, they’ll grind and cut the diamond, and even laser-engrave it if requested. A pound of ashes can be turned into a single diamond, but it’s possible to get more than one diamond out of one person’s cremains. Algordanza has made as many as nine diamonds from an individual.

A Chicago-based company called LifeGem Memorials also creates diamonds out or cremains or out of a lock of hair. A Swedish company called Promessa offers another unusual alternative to a traditional burial: they’ll freeze-dry a body in liquid nitrogen, and then shatter it into a hygienic and odorless “organic powder” using sound waves. The company touts their process as the most environmentally friendly way of processing the deceased, as the organic powder turns into compost within 6-12 months of being buried. I’m not sure whether they were inspired by the death of the T-1000, but I have to give them props either way. Those cutting-edge Swedes!

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