Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but actually—they might also be her father, mother, or grandmother. That’s right, you can now turn your deceased loved one into bling on your finger.
Jewelry is undoubtedly sentimental, a talisman with intrinsic value to pass down to your children that tells the stories of your life. While wearing your great grandmother’s ring, you can almost feel her energy with you. Well now, a Swiss-based company, Algordanza, has developed a technology to turn human ashes into keepsake jewelry, so your great grandmother’s presence will literally be with you—on your finger. For the starting price of $5,000, Algordanza will forge a sparkling precious human diamond.
Joni Mitchell was right in 1970 when she sang, “we are stardust” in her song “Woodstock”—all living organisms are made up of the same stardust—the remnants of stars and massive explosions in the universe. Everything we are and everything on Earth originates from that stardust and it continually floats through us today, directly connecting us to the universe. That residual stardust finds its way into plants and into the nutrients we need for everything we do—to think, move, and grow.
In the case of diamonds, these same carbon remnants from stars are baked and compressed beneath the Earth’s mantle under extreme temperatures for thousands of years. Algordanza simply developed a technology capable of artificially mimicking this process using the charred, granular remains of the deceased.
The process involves treating cremated samples with special chemicals to extract carbon elements, which are then heated and transformed into a pure crystalline state known as graphite—yep, the same stuff found in a #2 pencil. This graphite is put into a machine, which stimulates the high pressure and high temperature of the Earth’s mantle, carbon atoms bond, and ta-dah a diamond is born.
What’s really peculiar about the human diamond is that each has characteristics unique to the individual. If you had dentures or prosthesis, your diamond will be of lesser purity. While human diamonds are usually blue, hues can range from clear to black, depending on how much boron is in your remains, a mineral absorbed through certain foods.
This strange concept of memorializing a family member in the form of a crystal accessory is gaining popularity among certain cultures, particularly in Japan, where nearly all the dead are cremated. And though the company’s service seems geared toward the rich, the procedure is an alternative to burials, which can be more expensive in the long run.
The world’s cities are running out of space to bury their dead. After all, apartment dwellers can’t bury their relatives in the front yard. We need to reimagine our death ceremonial rituals as an overpopulated world with a shortage of land. With hardly enough room for the living, where oh where will our dead bodies go? For those of us who need to visit the remains of a loved one to mourn and heal, instead of scattering ashes into the wind, this may be the answer. Diamonds are precious and intimate heirlooms. They couldn’t differ more from today’s cemeteries, crammed with too many graves, usually neglected. It’s hard to have a real relationship with the dead in a cemetery.
As a human diamond, you become something your loved ones can touch and enjoy the sight of. Remember, a diamond is forever, so these jewels can be passed down from generation to generation. If you fancy a blinged-out eternal sleep, then this unusual blend of mortuary science and jewelry is for you.
I would like to note that cremation is not a sustainable technique, with too much energy used, toxic emissions from the burning process, and a waste of organic material (your body) that could return to the earth as nutrients. If you’d like to give back to mama nature, green burials (when you’re buried inside an urn, compostable wooden box, or pod with a tree planted on top) are environmentally-friendly options and should ultimately be the future of our burial rituals.
Image by Carly Waito