From DNA to Diamonds
Diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend. These days, they can also be her mom, dad, or partner. New technology has provided the means to compress cremated human remains into diamonds, using the same conditions – extremely high heat and pressure – that allow the production of natural diamonds deep under the earth.
It has been around a decade ago since this method of preserving cremated remains was first discovered. It has now grown in popularity all over the world.
Every year, the remains of thousands of people are converted into diamonds. It takes about three months to complete the process, after which, the product is either kept in a box or made into jewelry.
Most of the stones turn out to be blue because of the trace amounts of boron (an element involved in bone formation) found in the human body. From time to time, though, a diamond may pop out white, almost black or even yellow, and the reasons are still unknown. In any case, each cremation diamond is always a bit different.
Most orders for cremation diamonds are placed by relatives of people who have just passed away, but sometimes, people may make arrangements for themselves to be converted into diamonds once they die.
People pay around $5,000 to $22,000 for a cremation diamond, a cost just about the same as some funeral packages. The equipment and processes involved are also more or less the same as those found in a lab that produces synthetic diamonds from other types of carbon.
The basic process includes reduction of the ash to carbon, which is then mixed with real diamond seed and slid into a machine where extreme heat and pressure is applied for weeks.
The machine, which is an incubator, makes use of a unique and complex High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) process that copies the diamond-making conditions of nature. Temperatures are higher than 2000?C and pressure is stronger than 60,000 atmospheres. After 70 days or less, an in-the-rough but genuine diamond is formed. An expert gem cutter will cut and polish the stone according to industry standards. This is at least hundreds of millions of years faster than the natural process for making diamonds.
The custom diamond then undergoes authentication and inspection by a gemological institution, which also measures it and finally grades it. The final product will then be released to the customer.
More time for the process means a bigger rough diamond. When the new diamond has cooled off, it is is ground and then cut to the desired shape; sometimes, it is also engraved using a laser.
It only takes around one pound of ashes to create one diamond, and up to around nine diamonds may be made from one person’s ashes. Mostly, the diamonds are brought to a jeweler to be designed into rings or pendants.