No one wants to think about their loved ones dying. But the unfortunate reality is, when the time comes, you have to make some choices about how to dispose of the body. If traditional burial doesn’t appeal to you, cremation is an increasingly popular option. But instead of storing the ashes in an urn or spreading them in a loved one’s favorite spot, there is a new alternative that is gaining traction—turning the ashes into diamonds.
So how exactly is this possible? One company, Algordanza in Switzerland, explained their process to Business Insider.
When a body is cremated, it leaves behind about five to ten pounds of ashes, much of which is carbon. The carbon is then extracted and purified of contaminants such as salt. The final purification step makes the carbon into sheets of graphite. Depending on the desired size of the diamond, the process to crystallize the graphite into a gem can take about six to eight weeks.
The resulting diamond ranges in color from clear to very deep blue. Boron, an element and micronutrient that helps humans grow bone, heal wounds and regulate the immune system, is responsible for the blue color. The more Boron present, the deeper blue the diamond will appear.
When the diamond is ready, customers can take it as a rough gem. Or they can have it cut, faceted and polished by a jeweler.
So how much will a “memorial diamond” set you back? Algordanza’s prices start at $3,000 for a 0.3 carat diamond. For comparison, the average price of a casket is slightly more than $2,000. This does not include other costs associated with a typical burial. Costs could include things such as embalming fees and use of a funeral home.
Algordanza says the diamond allows people to keep a piece of loved ones with them for the rest of their lives. “It allows someone to keep their loved one with them forever,” Christina Martoia, a spokeswoman for Algordanza US, told Business Insider. “We’re bringing joy out of something that is, for a lot of people, a lot of pain.”
[h/t Business Insider]