There is no denying the fact that diamonds are considered valuable and precious. They have also signified wealth and are most commonly associated with weddings and engagement rings. They are a very rare gemstone created after years of extreme pressure and extreme heat. However, diamonds can also be artificially grown. The manner in which this happens differs slightly from one lab to another but the general process is the same.
However, in recent years, diamonds have started serving a different purpose. And that entirely different purpose has been gaining in popularity all over the world. We’re talking about memorial diamonds. These diamonds are cultivated from the cremated remains or hair of loved ones.
How Does a Loved One Become a Diamond?
The process of creating diamonds from ashes of a loved one is rather straightforward. Our bodies are made up of roughly 18% carbon. Carbon is also what diamonds are made up of. When enough heat and pressure is applied to the ashed remains, they turn into diamonds. This is also an oversimplified explanation.
The entire process is explained in great length on Lonite’s website. They are a Swiss company that specializes in creating diamonds from ashes and they are working hard to make their service available and known worldwide. They also explain the differences between different diamonds that come out as a result.
Now, bear in mind that some people may not be thrilled with this idea. However, with the problematic situation of burial plot spaces coming at higher premiums and the possible legal ramifications of how to legally spread the ashes of our dearly departed, interring them as diamonds does make a lot of sense.
A memorial diamond is a great way to have a tangible way to remember someone, as well as have them with you wherever you go. There are no plots to buy or worries about having to visit places where ashes have been spread.
So, let’s take a look at how to go about creating a memorial diamond. The first step would be to contact a reputable company that provides this service. You should take this opportunity to inquire about the process in great detail and find out the exact amount of ashes needed, how long the process takes, and the submission process itself. While it may be heart-breaking to discuss this with complete strangers, you should find comfort in the fact that once the process is done, you will be able to have a piece of your loved ones with you at all times.
Once you have made the necessary arrangements, you will need to send the sample of the remains. The sample can be made up of the cremated remains, just the cremated bones, or even from their hair. Any of these items can be used provided that there is a sufficient amount of them.
The sample will first be tested for the amount of carbon. In some cases, the remains will not have enough carbon on their own to be turned into diamonds. That’s why it’s highly suggested to send additional hair samples from the remaining members of the family to ensure there is enough carbon needed to turn the remaining ashes into diamonds.
Once the initial analysis is complete, the ashes are placed into a special solvent with an impurity remover which eliminates all unstable chemicals. This mixture is then milled and stirred into a nano powder in a special chemical gas environment. During this process, special treatment and techniques are applied to ensure the carbon is fully preserved and all other elements are removed.
The ashes and or the hair is then further purified by heating them up to extreme temperatures. The oxygen is removed completely and a special gas is added to preserve the hair and the ashes from oxidation.
Once that part of the process is complete, the ashes are then processed in a wet chemical environment to remove heavy metals. This is the final purification step after which the carbon purity reaches 99.99%. In rare cases, where this purity percentage has not been reached, the remains undergo a series of specially implemented purification steps to remove any and all remaining impurities.
It is worth noting that this is the first 5000 or more minutes of the process in creating a memorial diamond. That is just under 84 hours, or 3 and a half days. A lot of time and care goes into purifying the remains so that the best possible diamond can be grown.
Once all the purification processes are complete, the remains are then subject to HPHT treatment. This is known as High Pressure, High-Temperature process where the extracted carbon is converted into flake graphite and formed into a cylinder shape. The exact process varies from company to company. Some companies will opt to use a process called CVD or Chemical Vapor Deposition or they will seed the carbon remains with a microscopic diamond to start the crystallization of the remains. At the absolute worst, some companies resort to drilling a hole into diamonds and then pouring a very small amount of the remains into that hole and stopping for the day.
The HPHT process is where the bulk of the time is spent. Natural diamonds take many years to form in the earth’s crust under constant high heat and pressure. Synthetic diamonds won’t take years per se, but the colour and carat weight play the significant role in how long it does take. Because of the variables involved, a memorial diamond can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to cultivate.
Once the diamond has been cultivated, you can opt to receive it in its natural rough state or you can go a step further and decide on a cut and polish of the diamond.
Bear in mind that if you opt for a rough diamond, it should not be cut at any time after it is delivered due to the possibility of it breaking.
If you opted for a polished and cut diamond, keep in mind that the rough diamond dictates the final cut pattern, however, it is possible to get a desired shape. Some companies will even go so far as to create the actual piece of jewellery for you.
Depending on where you decide to get your memorial diamond made and the process it undergoes to be grown, you will receive a certification of authenticity along with the final diamond. In some cases, a secondary certificate can be obtained for the diamond to prove that it is an actual diamond in all respects from an independent party like GIA, the Gemological Institute of America or IGI, the International Gemological Institute.
Memorial diamonds are just one of the possibilities to remember our loved ones. Diamonds are eternal, and as such serve to be reminders for future generations. It can serve as a way for children to carry both parents with them as well as be placed in a family shrine. It could also start a family tradition. The possibilities are endless and you are only limited by your own creativity or the specific desires of your loved one.