From DNA to Diamonds
Diamonds, as they say, are a girl’s best friend. These days, they can also be her mom, dad, or partner. New technology has enabled cremated human remains to be converted into diamonds through the application of extremely high pressure and heat, just as natural diamonds are made by the same conditions deep within the earth.
It has been around a decade ago since this method of preserving cremated remains was first discovered. Now, it has grown in popularity across 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.
The stones usually come out blue from the trace amounts of boron, an element used in bone formation, in the human body. Sometimes, though, a diamond surprises with a yellow, white or almost black shade for reasons 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 machines and processes used are also similar to those that are found in laboratories that manufacture synthetic diamonds with the used of other carbon materials.
The ash is first reduced to carbon, then mixed with real diamond seed before being slid into a machine which applies intense heat and pressure for weeks.
The machine is more aptly called an incubator, which uses a unique and complex High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) process to mimic the earth’s natural diamond-making conditions. 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. The stone will be cut and polished by a gem-cutting specialist based on industry standards. This is at least hundreds of millions of years faster than the natural process for making diamonds.
A gemological institution will then authenticate and inspect the custom diamond, before measuring it and finally grading it. The final product is then released to the customer.
The more time is allotted for this process, the larger the diamond becomes. 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.
Source: turning human ashes into diamonds