You may have heard that you can memorialize your departed loved ones by having a beautiful diamond made from their ashes. Rather than scattering the ashes or just setting them on the mantle in an urn, you can call on Eterneva. The company uses the carbon in your deceased loved one’s ashes or from their hair to craft a beautiful gem that will provide a keepsake to last the rest of your life and beyond.
How is this possible? Is there even enough carbon in cremated remains to produce a diamond? As it turns out, there’s between one and four percent carbon in the ashes, and that’s more than enough for the diamond creation process. The human body is made up of dozens of elements, but only a few exist in more than trace amounts. The most prevalent is oxygen, which makes up 65 percent of our bodies, and carbon is second at 18.5 percent.
As anyone who’s studied organic chemistry knows, carbon binds with other elements to form the basic building blocks of all life. Carbon isn’t found “standalone” inside of us. If it were, we’d be carrying pounds and pounds of coal in our bodies. Instead, carbon in the body is in the form of chemical compounds such as carbon dioxide, calcium carbonate, and carboxylic acid.
When the body is cremated, it’s subject to extremely high temperatures of 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. When cremation is complete, the result is skeletal remains and base elements that are crushed into powder. About three to seven pounds are left. There’s about one to four percent carbon in the ashes. That’s reduced from 18.5 percent in a living body because most carbon has been burned off as carbon dioxide.
The remaining carbon is largely in the form of calcium carbonate, which is a building block for bones. It survives because it bonds strongly and is protected by the bones where it resides. There’s residual carbon in remains that have been cremated at temperatures up to and even above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. This has been demonstrated with scientific testing.
In the diamond creation process, Eterneva works with state-of-the-art laboratories to validate the carbon contents of the remains. TDI-Brooks International and B&B Laboratories are the company’s partners in this effort. Customers can request that this testing be performed on cremated remains, whether from traditional cremation or aquamation, as well as on hair samples. The labs determine the percentage of organic carbon, inorganic carbon, and total carbon in each sample.
A multi-stage high-temperature purification process refines the carbon. This breaks the bonds in compounds such as calcium carbonate and leaves 99.995 percent pure carbon. It takes weeks, but now there’s something a diamond can be made from.
High-pressure high temperature (HPHT) technology is used to grow the diamond. The technique has been around since the 1950s, but over the years, it has improved. Today, HPHT works on carbon placed in a growth cell under immense temperature and pressure. It uses a metal alloy to facilitate growth and requires a diamond seed the size of a grain of sand. Carbon from the ashes is used alongside generic carbon to create the gem. The resulting diamond will typically contain 10 to 15 percent carbon from the loved one’s ashes. This diamond growth takes two to three months.
Once the diamond has grown, it’s scanned and inspected for quality. Then, it’s off to Antwerp, where master diamond cutters apply the same skill and experience they use to cut mined diamonds. Now, your diamond is ready for the finishing touches. This can include coloration if the customer has chosen a green, red, or black diamond. The stones are also graded by independent gemologists and engraved with the client’s inscriptions using a microscopic laser.
Finally, the gem is set. Eterneva can arrange this for you, or you may choose to work with your local jeweler. The result is a gem that will always be as precious as the memory of your departed loved one.