Turning ashes to diamonds is about a remarkable person. A person you’ll remember forever. Someone who deserves fireworks, and a million floating lanterns, and their name written in the stars!
Let’s celebrate that person!
Of course, turning ashes to diamonds is also about chemistry.
The very first lab grown diamonds were successfully repeatedly grown in 1955 by General Electric after more than a decade of research into the process. Without that research, we wouldn’t be able to make cremation diamonds today.
But lab grown diamonds and cremation diamonds are very different diamonds –– and the processes by which they are made are, too. Of course, the reasons people grow diamonds in a lab and why people turn ashes to diamonds are very different, as well.
Here’s a deep dive of the cremation diamond process, including customer reviews and testimonials, FAQs, and so much more – all from the Eterneva diamond experts themselves, our aerospace engineers who run the lab.
Cremation Diamonds Explained
Cremation diamonds, or eternal diamonds, are a very special and unique way to memorialize a loved one. These diamonds are created one at a time by mimicking how the earth creates natural diamonds. The process includes carbon, heat, and pressure.
The sudden physical absence of a loved one triggers complex and deeply-felt emotions. In a time of incredible change, it’s important to be surrounded by positive people. We believe the same is true for our memorials. We create eternal diamonds that spur uplifting thoughts about a cherished life.
Diamonds are associated with the positive themes of promises and eternal bonds. They aren’t a symbol that has historically been associated with death or loss, like urns or headstones. When set in a ring or a necklace, they become memorials that we can take with us through life, and even pass down.
There are a variety of reasons why someone wants to turn their loved one’s ashes into a diamond. For many, the idea of an urn just sitting there on a table is unsettling.
- What else could they be doing with those ashes?
- Isn’t there a better way to memorialize someone so important?
There are typical questions for people who often end up Googling “cremation jewelry” or “what to do with cremains,” and find that they can use those ashes to create a diamond that contains their loved one’s carbon.
“I did not want an urn on my shelf or a resting place to visit once in a while,” says Janet. “With the help of Eterneva, I now have John with me every day. I am able to feel his love every time I look at it.”
For other people, it is less about the urn itself just sitting there, and more about carrying your loved one with you, keeping their memory close by, and continuing onto the next chapter of life.
In that way, turning ashes to diamonds as a cremation jewelry option helps people grieve the loss of someone incredibly important in their life, and keep their memory alive.
“I get to be close to my baby girl every day because of this amazing gift. It has made the passing of Lucy more bearable,” says Teresa. “Now, she truly is ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ Thank you to the entire team for all of your support and kindness.”
For others, the turning of ashes to diamonds is just a cool thought –– something they do to memorialize the closest connection of their lives.
“I really cannot thank you guys enough. It is the coolest, most unique experience to get to watch something like this all happen for someone who meant the absolute world to me,” says a customer who wished to remain anonymous.
Whatever the reason, and it’s likely a combination of all the above, having their diamond placed in a ring, a necklace, a watch, or any other piece of jewelry is a great way to memorialize someone, to turn their carbon into an heirloom, and help with the grieving process.
Unlike other cremation jewelry options, ashes to diamonds are bright, personal, and eternal. Each diamond is made uniquely from your loved one’s carbon in an individualized process that you get to watch throughout the 9 months it takes to create.
Here’s how it all works, according to our Eterneva diamond experts: the aerospace engineers who run our lab!
Our Ashes to Diamond Process Explained
Heat, pressure, time and carbon. That’s what’s needed for a diamond to form in the earth’s mantel. Our scientists use state-of-the-art equipment to simulate the same conditions for your cremation diamond.
Here is how it works, high-level.
- A remarkable transformation: We isolate the carbon from the ashes. This stage and all others are filmed or photographed and shared with you for quality assurance. (1.5 – 2 Months)
- A diamond emerges: Through a custom, individualized process of heat and pressure, your loved one’s diamond will grow. (2-3 Months)
- Cut, Polished, Set by Masters: Your diamond is cut in Antwerp (1 Month), graded and engraved (1 Month), colored* (1-3 Months) and set (1 Month)* *Coloration and jewelry settings are optional
- An unforgettable homecoming: The return of your loved one’s diamond is a special day, so we arrange for every diamond to be hand-delivered.
Your loved one’s carbon is unique, so we carefully tailor the experience to suit. Over time, a diamond grows from the ashes.
After the diamond has fully formed, our master cutters study the diamond to ensure we can get the desired size, free of inclusions. We then have it graded and engraved. If you’ve chosen a colored diamond, it may go through an additional coloration process.
If you choose to have the diamond set, we’ll introduce you to one of our expert jewelers. Every step is documented and sent to you, so you can be confident in the care we take.
Your loved one’s eternal diamond will be as unique as them. The diamond is completely custom-made across an intricate process where everyone in every step is an Eterneva diamond expert. We work on everyone individually, with incredible precision and care.
STEP 1: Carbon purification.
When you send in your loved one’s ashes, the first step of the process is to purify the ashes into carbon in the form of graphite.
This is necessary because most carbon is burned off during the cremation process, leaving behind only carbonates.
Carbonates are very strong molecular bonds between carbon and another element, like calcium or oxygen. These molecular bonds are too strong to be burned off as oxidized gas during cremation.
In addition, cremains contain other elements as well as carbonates, specifically phosphates and boron, both of which are helpful in the formation of bones.
Because diamonds are made of pure carbon, all other elements must be burned off in the purification process.
To do that, we use a high heat, no oxygen environment and an inert gas. The goal is to break the molecular bond of the carbonate and burn off everything else within the ashes so that we are left with only elemental carbon in the form of graphite.
This is what the elemental carbon looks like once it has been purified.
From here, the graphite is ground up into a fine powder and is placed in a growth cell.
STEP 2: Diamond growth.
The diamond growth process begins once your loved one’s ashes have been purified into carbon in the form of graphite and then ground into a fine powder. From here, the powder is put into a growth cell containing a diamond seed as well as additional purified carbon that will aide in growing a larger diamond.
The diamond seed is an important part of the process. According to our Eterneva diamond experts: “Imagine it as the piece of sand in an oyster around which the pearl growth. This seed is providing the basic structure for the carbon in the growth cell to model after.”
Our Scientists Building the Growth Cell
Keep in mind that diamonds are pure carbon, but so too is coal and pencil lead (which is graphite). Similar to how water can be an air, liquid, or gas –– the heat, pressure, and molecular bonding pattern of the carbon is what create the final product.
Once the growth cell is ready, it is placed into a High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) machine.
Difference in Diamond Growth Processes Between Lab-Grown and Cremation Diamonds
Most lab-grown diamonds are created in a Carbon Vapor Deposition (CVD) machine, whereas cremation diamonds are created in High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) machines. The bigger differences here is that CVD machines produce multiple diamonds at a time.
The CVD lab-grown diamond process which create multiple diamonds per run.
HPHT machines produce only one diamond at a time. This is often why cremation diamonds are more expensive than lab-grown diamonds, because they are created individually.
This also accounts for various price points for lab-grown diamonds. Some diamonds will grow larger than others during this CVD process, some diamonds will also have larger inclusions than others. The final price of the lab grown diamond is determined based on the final carat, cut, color, and clarity of that diamond.
For cremation diamonds, the size, cut, and color are decided prior to purchase and the diamond is grown specifically to hit the specifications decided upon.
There are two types of HPHT machines: Bars press and Belt press. Both machines attain the same high temperature and pressure needed to create a diamond, and both create only one diamond per instance. The difference is how they apply the pressure.
Image of an HPHT Bars Press Machine
Image of an HPHT Belt Machine
In these HPHT machines, the conditions below the earth’s crust are replicated. Temperatures inside the machine are above 2,500 degrees Celsius (the temperature of the mantle) and more than 1,450ksi of pressure.
This process takes anywhere from two to three months depending on the desired size and color because it is not uncommon for us to need to grow a diamond a couple of times until it is perfect.
Technically, each diamond growth cycle takes only 7-10 days. The extra time added in is to ensure that your loved one’s diamond meets your precise specifications. Everyone’s carbon is uniquely different, so our scientists need to test and find the perfect combination of heat and pressure for each individual person.
Here is a recent message we received from one of our scientists in regards to a diamond we are growing:
“Megan’s first cycle of diamond growth went really well in terms of growing the size diamond we’re looking for, but there were some inclusions in the center of her stone so we’re adjusting our set points and going into our second cycle!”
We’ll get more into the importance of inclusions (or imperfections) in step 3.
Naturally occurring colors are colorless, blue, and yellow. We’ll get into that more in a moment.
After these months, there is now a raw diamond created with the carbon of your loved one.
This is what the raw diamond still in its growth cell looks like.
Technically, we don’t know what your loved one’s diamond is going to look like until it’s finished growing and we mine it out of the growth cell. All diamonds will have naturally occurring inclusions.
The three types are:
- Air pockets.
- Areas of uncrystallized carbon.
- Metallic fragments from the metal alloy in the growth cell.
When we go to cutting, we need to cut around all of these inclusions to ensure we get you a really nice quality diamond, which brings us to Step #3: diamond cutting.
STEP 3: Diamond cutting.
Once the diamond is finished growing, it is now time to cut the diamond to the proper shape.
This is where we will know for sure if the target carat size has been reached.
Like naturally occurring diamonds, lab-grown diamonds and cremation diamonds often come out of their growth with inclusions (or imperfections). These intrusions must be cut around for a clear diamond (the clarity aspect of diamond grading within the 4Cs – cut, clarity, color, carat).
The Clarity Grade
- I (1,2) – “Included” you can visibly see inclusions with the naked eye
- SI (1,2) – “Slightly Included” there may be inclusions that are visible but they are very difficult to see with the naked eye and likely need a trained eye to spot
- VS (1,2) – “Very Slightly Included” inclusions need at least 10x magnification to be seen
- VVS (1,2) – “Very Very Slightly Included” Same as above but 20x magnification
- IF – “Internally Flawless” There are zero defects (only about 0.1% or less of diamond get this grade)
This means that the diamond will shrink in size from its original size.
With lab-grown diamonds, diamond cutters use computer software to determine the largest carat option for each diamond and cut to achieve the highest grade across all 4 Cs: clarity, cut, color, and carat.
Sample Diamond Scan
With cremation diamonds, the diamond size and shape have already been specified and the diamond has been grown specifically for the desired carat, cut, and color –– assuming high clarity.
Master cutters in this scenario also use computer software to see which angles will be the easiest to get the right cut and carat while getting rid of any inclusions.
Popular diamond cuts.
From here, the diamond cutter uses a sawing and grinding process to achieve the desired cut. The Eterneva diamond expert cutter uses scanning and examination though a loop to determine where the imperfections (inclusions) are in the rough, after which they must decide which side of the diamond will become the “table” –– which is the top of the diamond.
Parts of the diamond.
Facets and the lower girdle are then cut. Finally the diamond is polished through very fine grinding so you cannot see any grind marks from the cutting process on the diamond.
Diamond Cutting Process Timeline:
- Step 1: Inspection
- Step 2: Creating the Table
- Step 3: Polish Facets (Shaping)
- Step 4: Brooding (Cutting)
- Step 5: Final Polish
- Step 6: Gemology for final inspection and grading
The Cut Grade
Cut is the most important of the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, carat) because it has the greatest influence on a diamond’s sparkle/brilliance.
Cut grade is based on the proportions and angles of the facets and ratios of the depth to diameter. When diamond cuts are made with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond (referred to as the Table). If the cuts are too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.
Diamond Cut Grading Scale
- Poor/Fair: Will appear dull or glassy
- Good: Reflects most light (this is an “ok” grade)
- Very Good: Nearly an ideal cut but slightly off
- Ideal: only about 3% receive this grade all angles and proportions are within 1 degree of perfect
- Astor Ideal: Less than 1% get this grade, considered a “perfect” cut
Eterneva’s Master Diamond Cutter
The cutter for Eterneva diamonds is one of the most highly regarded in the Antwerp diamond district. The company only uses cutters with 25+ years of experience to handle our diamonds. Every diamond is worked on individually and maintains the same customer and diamond ID numbers within the cutter’s system. Each rough diamond is scanned to create the ideal cutting plan based on the cutter’s experience.
STEP 4: Diamond coloring.
This is the stage where we transform the color of the cremation diamond to its intended color. Diamonds can be grown within the HPHT machine as colorless (pure carbon), blue (includes added boron), or yellow (includes added nitrogen).
After the cut phase, the diamond can then be colored to its intended color. This process is irreversible.
Cremation diamond color options include:
There are two types of coloration: irradiation and HPHT treatment.
Irradiation Diamond Coloration
- Controlled radiation (electron bombardment) reacts with trace elements to alter color structure of diamond
- All diamond colors can be achieved through this process
- Final color is highly dependent on trace element composition
- Pink and Green yield best results with very low nitrogen content
- Red and Black can start from a darker yellow with higher nitrogen content
HPHT Diamond Coloration
- High pressure and temperature aneals the crystal structure
- Redistributes element composition
- Can lighten a darker yellow to a lighter yellow color
- Can be used to enhance the color of irradiated pink or green
Which coloration process is used for your diamond depends on the desired final color and the color of the diamond after it leaves the growth cell.
Examples of Cut, Colored, and Set Eterneva Diamonds:
In order, the colors are colorless, blue, pink, black, yellow, red.
The Color Grade
Colorless diamonds and colored diamonds are graded differently. Colorless diamonds follow the chart below and are graded D-Z along a colorless to light scale.
Colored diamonds are graded along a scale of faint to fancy vivid:
STEP 5: Grading the diamond.
Each cremation diamond receives a final diamond grading report. That report details the cut, clarity, color, and carat of the diamond. It looks like this:
What is the International Gemology Institute?
The IGI was established in 1975 in Antwerp where it remains headquartered today. It has offices in New York City, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Los Angeles, Kolkata, New Delhi, Surat, Chennai, Thrissur, Ahmedabad, Shanghai, and Cavalese. IGI is the largest independent gemological laboratory worldwide, and is a diamond, colored jewelry and jewelry certification organization.
Their main competitor is in the space is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which works closely with De Beers. IGI, on the other hand, has developed more of a reputation and expertise for grading lab-grown diamonds.
Both of these organizations are well-respected and well-known worldwide. Unfortunately, their success has spawned offshoot gemological schools, many of which are fraudulent.
STEP 6: Bringing them home.
Once the diamond is grown, cut, colored, and graded, it is hand-delivered back home to you for safekeeping and setting.
Some people choose to work with their own jewelry for a setting, and others use Eterneva. We can help you find and set the diamond in a piece you love, or are happy to hand-deliver your diamond home for your next chapter.
After all, the diamond homecoming day is an incredibly special day. Many people throw small parties or get-togethers with friends and family as support. Others film their reactions to seeing the diamond for the first time and share those videos with loved ones who are farther away.
Psychologically, this is the day you’ve been waiting for more than 8-10 months. They are back home in the form of a diamond. Their brilliance is back. Their facets. It’s a moment worth celebrating.
How much does it cost to turn ashes into a diamond?
The price to turn ashes into diamonds typically begins at $2,999, and is heavily influenced by the carat and color desired. Here is a quick breakdown of cost based on color:
What Types of Diamonds Can I Get Created?
Cremation diamonds can be grown up to 1 carat in size. They can colorless, blue, yellow, green, red, pink, or black.
Cremation diamonds are most often cut into round, cushion, asscher, radiant, or emerald cuts because these cuts yield the largest diamonds.
They can also be cut into pear, marquise, oval, and princess cuts. These cuts, however, yield lesser ca