My father has always told us kids exactly where he wants his ashes scattered, so that when the time comes, we’ll know what to do. Planning for death during life is a common process for many, especially those who are beginning to feel the effects of old age kicking in.
Some may want a traditional burial. Some will want to be cremated. Perhaps they have a burial location picked out or, like my father, a place where they want their ashes scattered. Maybe they just want a simple urn sitting on the mantelpiece in one of their children’s homes. Maybe they don’t care.
Maybe they want to be turned into a diamond.
A Swiss company named Algordanza makes that last option viable, taking in cremated remains and then using high heat and pressure to compress those ashes into diamonds. By mimicking the conditions that would be found deep within the earth, diamonds can be created within about three months. That’s a heck of a lot faster than the 3 million years it takes diamonds to develop naturally.
Because our bodies contain trace amounts of boron, most of the diamonds created by Algordanza are blue. From time to time, however, founder and CEO Rinaldo Willy says diamonds come out white, yellow, or even nearly black. He’s not sure what causes these large variances, but says that often they turn out the same color as the deceased eyes. “[E]very diamond from each person is slightly different. It’s always a unique diamond.”
Since conceiving the idea fro Algordonza about ten years ago, Willy has been able to establish the company and expand its services to customers in 24 countries. About a quarter of the 800-900 customers each year come from Japan.
About one pound of ashes is enough to create a diamond, and Willy says that Algordonza has made up to nine diamonds from one individual’s ashes. After reducing ashes to carbon, the intense heat and pressure is applied for weeks. “The more time you give this process, the bigger the rough diamond starts to grow,” he says.
After the rough diamond is finished, the company cuts and sometimes engraves the stones. Customers can then choose to keep the diamonds in a box, on display, or take them to a jeweler to be put into rings or pendants.