Cremation is a popular option for keeping the remains of loved ones, but there are bereaved families who would rather turn their dead’s ashes into diamonds than to store them in an urn. This isn’t a far-fetched concept since diamonds are crafted from crystallized carbon and the human body has 20 percent carbon in it.
There are at least five corporations that are producing memorial diamonds, but one of the pioneers is Algordanza. The Swiss company is currently offering its service to 33 countries. In 2016 alone, the company managed to deliver about a thousand of the memorial diamonds.
Algordanza spokeswoman Christina Martoia told Business Insider that their gems bring “joy out of something that is, for a lot of people, a lot of pain.” The service isn’t only limited to dead people; they have previously received orders to turn a cat and a German Shepherd’s ashes into gems.
How They Turn Ashes into Sparklers
Algordanza would need at least 500 grams of ashes to ensure that there’s carbon for the diamond. A cremated human body produces approximately 2.5 kilograms of remains. Upon the client’s sending of the ashes, technicians will use a special oven to determine if there’s enough carbon. They can get the lacking carbon from a lock of hair.
Acidic chemicals are then used to purify the carbon. Martoia claims that this purification process increases the ashes’ carbon purity to 99 percent or even higher in some cases. The remaining 1 percent are the impurities, particularly boron, which is an important element in the body’s immune system.
Boron is responsible for the diamonds’ blue color, and depending on the amount of boron, the shades can differ. The more boron present, the deeper the blue will come out. One of Algordanza’s interesting observations is that memorial diamonds of people who underwent chemotherapy usually come out lighter. This might be due to chemotherapy’s effect on the body’s micronutrients.
Further purification processes are involved in creating a memorial diamond. Since natural diamonds are products of carbon from the Earth’s crusts, Algordanza tries to imitate the same environment. They insert the graphite-packed cell (containing the diamond) from the final purification process into a high-pressure growing machine.
The machine is capable of heating the cell up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. After several weeks, the technicians will remove the graphite cell and crack it open. Inside is a rough diamond, which many clients bring to another Swiss jeweler for polishing. Some, however, choose to take home the unpolished gem.
A memorial diamond starts at €3,927 (about $4,600). Algordanza can also make the diamonds bigger depending on the client’s request. They’ve had an order for a 1.76-carat diamond, which amounted to $48,000. It was the largest diamond the company produced.
The production time depends on the client’s preferred diamond size. The larger the gem, the longer time needed.
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