In recent years, many bereaved consumers have left gravestones behind and adopted a new way of memorializing their deceased loved ones — turning their ashes into sparkling diamonds.
In a lengthy post on the Cremation Institute last month, grief and memorial expert Amy Gardner outlined the unusual process in its entirety, citing a growing and overwhelming interest from readers as the reason for the outline.
"You might wonder how exactly this miraculous transformation takes place. How can human remains become a shiny diamond pendant or a pair of earrings?" the post reads. "As you can imagine, it's by no means simple."
How cremation diamonds are made
Gardner goes on to explain in the post, how, after cremation, the carbon still present from the body is isolated. This process can take several weeks but eventually results in a powdery carbon graphite substance that is the starter material for diamonds.
Once the carbon has been isolated, it goes through a process called "graphitization," in which heat and pressure are applied to the substance until a graphite structure is formed.
The next step, is the "most miraculous of all," Gardner notes. The carbon graphite structure, or "diamond seed," is exposed to temperatures of 2500 degrees Fahrenheit and 850,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, replicating the conditions beneath the earth's surface where diamonds are naturally produced.
"Gradually, a diamond begins to grow," Gardner says. "It starts as some crystallization on the top of the carbon seed. Then over time this becomes a raw diamond."
"The most magical thing about all this is that every person's diamond will be unique," she adds. "Each individual requires a different mix of heat and pressure to grow a diamond, so the result is highly personalized. No two cremation diamonds are alike."
Consumers can then choose when to remove the diamond from its growth cell, the longer it remains in the cell, the larger it will become. Once removed, the traditional pattern of cutting, polishing, and setting the diamond begins.
It's not cheap
The Cremation Institute surveyed cremation diamond companies and estimate prices that range anywhere from $1250 for a 0.10 carat diamond to $20,000 for a one carat blue diamond — and that is just for the cremation process, setting not included.
While the price tag may be high, many customers enjoy the uniqueness and customization that cremation diamonds afford, and that goes not only for deceased relatives or friends, but for pets, too.
Business Insider notes that cremation is an increasingly popular option, and is expected to make up more than half of all body disposals by 2020. With cremation on the rise, it could be that cremation diamonds will continue to grow in popularity, as well.
The Business Insider also reports that one industry leader, Swiss company Algordanza, has its services available in 33 countries and sold almost 1,000 gems in 2016.
Here is a video of the process posted on YouTube by Algordanza:
ALGORDANZA Memorial Diamonds youtu.be