This Dazzling Diamond is Made of… Your Loved One’s Remains

The days of being placed in a casket underground are waning as an increasing number of people choose their final remains to be cremated. By the year 2020, half of Americans will elect this option in lieu of a traditional burial.

Often, this ash is kept in urns and displayed on a mantle, but there are a bevy of other possibilities for someone once they are gone: cuddly bereavement bears can hold a portion of the ashes; they can be incorporated into fireworks; or even biodegradable urns that sprout a tree. The most dazzling choice of all, however, is to be reincarnated into a sparkling, multifaceted diamond.

How is This Possible?

Algordanza in Domat, Switzerland fabricates these memorial diamonds. The Discovery Science show called Made by Destruction took a look inside of their lab and the process in which they take cremated remains and transform them into timeless keepsakes. Algordanza analyzes, distills, and dries the ash to extract the carbon that’s inside of everyone—separating the element is the key to creating the synthetic mineral.


From Ashes to Pure Carbon

The process begins with careful analysis. A lab tech puts a small amount of ash inside a ceramic dish and places it in a machine to predict its percentage of carbon. There needs to be at least 1% of it to form a diamond. After passing that test, the carbon is isolated by dissolving the ashes in an acidic liquid and draining them through a suction filter. The moist carbon (one to two grams) is left to dry. It’s later pressed into a disc—the first step in artificially replicating a natural process that happens over millions of years.


Pressed Carbon Transformed Into a Flawless Diamond

Once the carbon is extracted, its journey into a diamond has just begun. Now a disc, it’s placed inside of a capsule called a growing cell. This small chamber is made up of elements that make a diamond, including a tiny fragment of a real diamond called a “diamond seed.”

Algordanza techs place the growing cell into a high pressure, high temperature chamber that weighs a staggering 15 tons. It reaches temperatures of 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure that’s 870,000 pounds/square inch. There’s a lot at stake during this process—it must be precise or the diamond may be ruined.

After weeks of intense conditions, it’s time to unveil the finished product. An engineer removes a compressed, oyster-like shell from the chamber. They crack it open with a hammer and reveal the diamond now formed inside.


Every Diamond is Different

Each diamond produced is as unique as the person it came from, because of our varied chemical compositions. A body with a high concentration of boron, for instance, will produce a blue gem, while one with less will appear clear or white. Regardless of the appearance, each diamond has one thing in common: it’s a unique way to remember the deceased. And if placed in a necklace or other jewelry, the living can keep their loved one literally with them forever.

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