Monday, November 10, 2014

Diamonds are forever? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Diamonds can be made out of peanut butter, too?

Last week, my cousin Babs and I went up to the cemetery where our parents are buried and planted tulips.

The tulips are to tide things over until we get out to the cemetery sometime around Memorial Day and throw some geraniums and azuratam out there. (While I think of it, we may have to add the grave our our great-grandparents, Matthew and Bridget Trainor, to the geranium list. The ancient cousin who was tending their grave has passed on.)

Anyway, Babs and I made our usual joke about being the last generation that will visit family graves. A dying breed…

It almost goes without saying that there are plenty of enterprising young enterprises coming up with ideas on just what to do with the bodies as, inevitably, we kick our personal buckets.

This year, of course, the what to do, what to do question hit pretty close to home. In fact, it did hit home. And what my husband and I decided to do with his ashes was bury most of them, scatter small bits in a number of different places, and send some on a spaceflight. (The small bit list is about 2/3’s through, and the space shot took place a few weeks ago.)

But this strewing of the ashes approach is already becoming old hat, and many people are opting for turning ashes into objets.

One such outfit is Algordanza, a Swiss company that has come up with a:

…process of having the ashes of a loved one made into a memorial diamond. 

Using a combination of machines and complex scientific process, the staff at Algordanza separate the carbon from the deceased's ashes, then convert the carbon into graphite, and use specific temperatures and pressure to create a diamond "seed."  (Source: SF Globe)

While the cost ain’t cheap (about $5K) it’s less than most burials.

And, let’s face it, it sounds pretty exciting. Almost as exciting as the Superman episode where Superman crushed a lump of coal into a diamond.

In truth, before my husband died, I might have rolled my eyes at the idea of a memorial diamond or other jewelry, but now that I have my little Connemara marble urn sitting there, waiting for Jim’s space shot ashes to get returned, I will have to quote Good Pope Francis here: “Who am I to judge?”

Algordanza has certainly glommed on to current marketing lingo.

In today’s fast-moving world, globalization and increased human mobility has made it increasingly difficult for loved ones to properly upkeep, maintain and visit a traditional tomb or grave site. (Source: Algordanza)

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used the words fast-moving, globalization, and mobility in a marketing piece, I could reach into my pocket and pay for a Diggy by Algordanza diamond out of pocket cash.

And then there’s a mumbo-jumbo section, the likes of which has not (as yet) made it into my tech marketing speak:

Memorial Diamonds are also imperishable heirlooms which can be transmitted down for generations. In this regard, they can also be psychologically highly beneficial: to be passed down from one generation to the next, the giver has to be willing to let go, an important step in the healing process.

All I can say here is that, when something is transmitted down through generations, as often as not the giver has no choice about letting go, as they have already been let gone, so to speak.

But it’s all very interesting, so I googled around for a bit more info, and found an article in the Smithsonian from earlier in the year. And learned out that, when it comes to creating diamonds, there’s nothing holy about cremains:

They [labs] these days can take any carbon material, whether it is the remains from cremation, charcoal, graphite, peanut butter, what have you, and retrieve elemental carbon,” says [Gem News editor Gary] Roskin. “And it is this carbon that they then use to create a gem-quality diamond."

Peanut butter? Say what? (Choosy mothers choose Jiff for their created diamonds.) And speaking of peanut butter, when it comes to cremated created diamonds, you are, more or less, what you eat. The color of the diamond will depend on how much boron you have in you. Which depends on your diet.

If you want a blue diamond, almonds and dates are apparently the thing.

And if the ashes include someone’s dentures or a prostheses, the diamond will have less purity. (I can see someone being cremated with their dentures in, but wouldn’t you think they’d removed the wooden leg?)

What it all comes down to in the end is that there’s really not much difference – other than the DeBeers marketing machine – between man made and man mined diamonds.

While naturally-occurring mined diamonds are generally worth more than those burnished in a lab, any distinction between them, he explains, exists as more of a social construct than anything. “Whether created by Mother Nature or by a human in a factory, a diamond is a diamond," he emphasizes. “In fact, most of your created diamonds are of better quality than a lot of the mined diamonds you might find in the jewelry stores of those large big box retailers that sell the $99 tennis bracelet.”

Anyway, my plans for my husband’s remaining cremains do not include a tennis bracelet. We still do have a couple of places left on the post-bucket list. No big hurry. Things will keep.

Thanks, and a jangle of the $99 tennis bracelet I don’t have to my friend Valerie for sending the SF Gate article my way.

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