http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2006/02/08/another-kind-of-heirloom


Palo Alto Weekly

- February 8, 2006

Another kind of heirloom

LifeGem turns Grandma, pets into diamonds

For some, departing with the dearly departed is unbearable. But one company is turning the remains of loved ones and pets into precious gems that will last a lifetime.

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

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