Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Creating Diamonds From Human Ashes

Synthetic diamonds is not anew technology, gemstone manufacturing has been developed since approximately 1945 and many socially conscious celebrities are now choosing synthetic over the troublesome mined variety. However, a new twist for synthetic gemstones such as diamonds exist. A company called LifeGem creates gemstones from carbon that's captured during the cremation of human remains.

It's not a design that appeals to everyone, but the company is finding that an increasing number of people are choosing the services in order to keep a family member’s memory and presence as a lasting beautiful keepsake.

How it works:

Carbon is released during the cremation process which is captured as a dark powder than heated to produce graphite. The graphite is sent to a lab where it is synthesized into a luxury colored diamond or gemstone of choice. Gemstones can be chosen from a variety of shapes such as Round, Princess and Asscher, are available in different carats and options include a small variety of gemstones.

The concept of ‘memorial’ gemstones is still unquic and so far there are only two major memorial diamond firms in the world.

LifeGem (America) and Algordanza (Switzerland) -- both companies have their specialties. LifeGem, for instance, offers to mix ashes with other minerals so that clients can decide if their loved ones would make a better blue, red or yellow-toned stone. Algordanza (who creates only diamonds) flatly refuses such "impure" mixing and insists its diamonds are made from 100 percent human beings. No "genetically-modified gems," so to speak.

Anther company based in Russia named New Age Diamonds offers to make a cultured diamonds using the hair on your stilling head. With a handful of your hair (approx 1 gram's worth), they can combine it with carbon and run it through a HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) machine to create a genuine diamond.

Mourning Jewelry

Some of the earliest examples of mourning jewelry were found in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Black and white enameled heads or skulls were often set into rings and brooches. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was a status symbol to present mourning rings to friends and families of the bereaved.

In the United States the use of mourning jewelry increased with the outbreak of the Civil War. During the Civil War as the soldiers left home to join the fight, they would leave a lock of hair with their families. Upon the soldier's death, the hair was often made into hair mourning jewelry or placed in a locket. The custom continued throughout the Victorian age and has now made it's way back into fashion.

The process of turning a loved one into a sparkling diamond serves as a fitting tribute to our modern era of ‘bling’. In a world where celebrities drive diamond increasted BMWs and rappers have diamonds in their teeth, perhaps the trend of memorial mourning jewelry will catch on to mean something more than shiny “look, I have money” trinkets.

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