From Grief to Forever: Turning Ashes into Diamonds

August 3rd, 2023


Technology has taken a significant leap forward, offering innovative ways to remember and cherish departed loved ones. Among these unique ways lies a concept that may seem straight out of science fiction—turning cremated ashes into diamonds. What was once an idea confined to laboratories has now become a heartfelt and intimate way for families to preserve the memory of their loved ones forever.

The Journey of a Diamond

The transformation of a person's ashes into a diamond is a fascinating process. Natural diamonds are formed over millions of years, deep within the Earth's core under extreme pressure and temperature. But thanks to General Electric's breakthrough in 1954, scientists can now replicate those conditions to create lab-grown diamonds. This opened up new possibilities, and in recent years, some companies have started incorporating carbon from cremated ashes into this process.

Remembering with Gems

One such company, Eterneva, based in Austin, Texas, has been at the forefront of this movement. They offer families the chance to design custom gem memorials, allowing them to choose the size, shape, and even the color of the diamond. A yellow diamond, for example, can be produced by adding nitrogen, while a colorless one requires stringent measures to prevent nitrogen contamination during the creation process. The possibilities of blue, red, green, and black diamonds are achieved through various techniques.

A Journey of Healing

The creation of a memorial diamond has proven to be an unexpectedly healing process for grieving family members. According to Adelle Archer, the co-founder and CEO of Eterneva, being involved in designing and monitoring the growth of the diamond has helped many people through their grieving process. The tangible connection to a loved one through the diamond serves as a conversation piece and a source of comfort.

Grief and Science Collide

Candi Cann, a leading grief theorist at Baylor University, is currently studying the experiences of Eterneva customers to gather empirical evidence of the healing benefits of memorial diamonds. While anecdotal evidence is abundant, this research aims to offer a deeper understanding of how this unique process influences emotional acceptance of loss.

The Skeptic's View

Despite the emotional appeal, some traditional jewelers have raised concerns about the composition of these memorial diamonds. They argue that, while the final gemstone contains a portion of carbon from the cremated ashes, a significant amount is generic stock carbon added for practical reasons. This has led some individuals to reconsider the idea, as they feel a stronger attachment requires a larger percentage of their loved one's remains.

Sustainability and Eco-Death

In an era where sustainability is increasingly valued, individuals are also considering the environmental impact of their death care decisions. While growing a diamond uses a comparable amount of energy to a household air conditioner unit, the process still relies on cremation, which involves energy expenditure and air pollutant emissions. Nonetheless, the appeal of preserving the carbon footprint by choosing an eco-friendly alternative like memorial diamonds is on the rise.

Technology has given us the means to keep the sparkle of our departed loved ones alive in the form of beautiful memorial diamonds. While the concept may initially raise skepticism or intrigue, it undoubtedly offers a powerful way for families to remember, cherish, and heal after the loss of those they hold dear.  

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