LifeGem, a Chicago-based company, captures the carbon released from cremated ashes and turns the dark powder into graphite. The graphite is sent to a lab, where it is synthesized into colored diamonds.
The diamonds come in brilliant blues and yellows, and can be cut in almost any way desired. They range from 0.25- to 1-carat, with some inclusions, similar to natural diamonds. Each diamond is graded in accordance with Gemological Institute of America standards, and is microscopically laser-etched with an identifying mark and certificate of authenticity.
Up to 100 diamonds can be created from each person, according to the online site. Prices range from $2,699 to $19,999, with discounts for two or more.
The process requires approximately 8 ounces, or one cup of ashes. The process takes three months to complete, said Amy Brooks, funeral director at Crippen & Flynn Carlmont Chapel in Belmont, which offers the service. Customers have been happy with the results, she said. "It's a wonderful idea. A lot of people ask about it -- it's the new thing."
-- Sue Dremann