Cremated Loved Ones Turned Into Diamonds

Turn Cremated Loved Ones Into Jewelry and Other Keepsakes

By Buck Wolf

Feb. 25, 2003 --   My wife is a real gem — now that she's dead. That could be the slogan for LifeGem — a company that turns the ashes of your late loved ones into diamonds.

The remains of a 27-year-old woman from Phoenix have been transformed into six precious stones and are set to be delivered to her family and friends on Friday. LifeGem's first order could be the start of a new age in the funeral industry.

The woman, who died of Hodgkin's disease, had asked that her ashes be distributed to loved ones. To honor that last wish, her family turned to LifeGem, hoping to create something special from this tragedy.

"When I look at her ashes, I know what they are and they make me sad; when I look at her LifeGem, it is a very positive experience," her father says in video footage the company is releasing to document its first sale.

The father worked closely with the company, which was founded two years ago outside Chicago. The diamonds, certified by the European Gemological Laboratories in New York, have been set into rings and have "the same brilliance, fire, and hardness as any high-quality diamond you may find at Tiffany's," according to company literature.

Out With the Urn, in With the New

You might think that LifeGems are the ultimate in tacky jewelry. But the company claims it's working on more than 50 orders and are on pace to ring up more than $1 million in sales — and many of their customers are grieving pet owners.

These sparklers aren't cheap. A .25-carat diamond — the smallest LifeGem sells — has recently been marked down from $3,950 to $2,095. Even at the reduced price, that's more than twice the cost of a natural diamond. But don't get the idea that you're worth more dead than alive. You're still only worth something to the people you love.

Still, LifeGem is refining its process in order to create more spectacular gems, in various shades of red, blue and yellow. The top-of-the-line, three-quarter-carat rocks go for nearly $10,000, and the company is promising "near-flawless diamonds of up to 3 carats in the very near future."