The Complete Diamonds from Ashes Guide
History of Memorial Diamonds
The idea to isolate carbon from human cremation ashes and then create from the carbon a cremation diamond arose in 2003. The creation of synthetic diamonds from industrial carbon sources has been possible since the 1960s.
The first memorial diamond facility was started in Switzerland in 2004 with the idea of bringing a new and unique way to remember our loved ones who have passed away. ALGORDANZA Memorial Diamonds are certified by expert Gemologists and their creation process officially notarized.
In addition to the traditional burial in the earth, cremation is becoming increasingly popular and in many countries is the primary form of burial. The ashes of the deceased are usually kept in an urn in a cemetery or, where permitted, kept at home or scattered in nature.
In an ever changing world where visiting and maintaining a grave is becoming more difficult and expensive, the memorial diamond lets you take your loved one with you wherever you go, to places they couldn’t before they passed away, without having to maintain a grave.
The ALGORDANZA Memorial Diamond
Carbon sources for ALGORDANZA diamonds
Made purely from the carbon extracted from human ashes, a Minimum amount of 500g of ashes is needed for an ALGORDANZA pure cremation diamond.
Made purely from the carbon extracted from human hair, a minimum amount of 5g of hair is needed for an ALGORDANZA hair memorial diamond.
ALGORDANZA Two Source
If for any reason there are not enough ashes or hair, personal objects can be used in the creation of a diamond, please contact us directly for more information.
The manufacturing process: This is how a memorial diamond is created
Carbon is the element of life and the basic material that makes up 99.9% of every diamond. Diamonds are formed by nature in the earth’s interior under tremendous pressure and enormous heat. In order to be able to create diamonds from human ashes or from hair, we must simulate the same conditions found in nature.
To do this, the carbon is first isolated from the ashes or hair of the deceased, then transformed into graphite and finally pressed into a diamond.
Carbon concentration in ashes and hair
The human body consists of around 20% carbon or carbon compounds. During cremation most of the carbon escapes as gaseous carbon dioxide. The remaining amorphous or chemically bound carbon (carbonates) accounts for approximately 0.5 to 3.0% of the cremated remains, which can be proven by any laboratory having the necessary equipment.
Hair consists of around 51% Carbon. For the creation of one or more ALGORDANZA Hair Memorial Diamonds we need at least 5g of hair. If not enough cremated remains or hair are available, a third carbon source such as personal letters, a diary or photos of the deceased can be used to isolate enough carbon for the synthesis of at least one Memorial Diamond. Please contact us in this case.
Isolation of carbon
A multi-stage chemical process is necessary to create a memorial diamond. Inorganic, oxidic and metallic components within the cremation ashes are removed through a chemical process and the carbon-rich, insoluble residue is isolated by filtration.
For a hair diamond, the hair is first charred, then through pyrolysis, the carbon is separated from the other elements and isolated. The remaining amount of carbon is usually a few grams and contains between 50 and 90% amorphous carbon.
Before a cremation diamond can grow, we have to increase the purity of the isolated carbon. In order to increase purification, impurities must be removed and vaporised. The distinct graphite structure is then created.
This is achieved by heating up the amorphic carbon from 2,500°C up to 2,700°C in a vacuum environment.
Past this stage of process, the graphite reaches a purity of approximately 99%. The arrangement of the carbon atoms in the graphite structure is essential to significantly advancing the subsequent diamond synthesis.
In the following step the graphite from the cremated remains is set into a specially made container we call a growing cell.
The growing cell consists of 22 components, which are all manufactured and assembled by hand by our staff of professionals in Switzerland. This task requires the highest precision, otherwise the diamond growth may be stunted or even impeded.
The growing cell is an isolated container which generates the growth of a cremation diamond, simulating natural conditions.
Growth process of a diamond
The growing cell is carefully set into a High Presseure High Temperature (HPHT) press with exact precision. Our HPHT presses are constructed specifically for ALGORDANZA’s necessities and weigh more than 14 tons each.
The growing cell is exposed to an approximate pressure of 60,000 bar and a temperature of 1,400°C. Within the growing cell the graphite structure slowly grows into a diamond.
The longer the growing cell stays in the HPHT-press; the longer the growth process, and therefore the larger the cremation diamond will be.
Opening of the growing cell and removal
At the end of the calculated growth phase, which is determined by the desired diamond size, the growing cell is removed from the press.
The growing cell is then opened layer by layer, revealing the rough diamond within. Single components of the growing cell are collected, refined and recycled when possible.
The rough diamond
Inside of the cell’s core, embedded in solid metal, the newly grown cremation diamond is located at its center. It has the distinct, consistent crystalline facets typical of an uncut or rough diamond.
Cutting and polishing
Either the diamond will be handed over to the family as a rough diamond or per request taken to a diamond cutter to be cut from the 6 most popular cuts available. Cutting and polishing a diamond is a real craft and only made by experienced experts by hand.
If the cremation diamond is requested as a rough diamond, the ALGORDANZA staff only polishes the abrasive facets created through diamond growth.
Each ALGORDANZA cremation diamond is engraved with a laser inscription on the diamond’s girdle consisting of the ALGORDANZA signet and the unique reference number of the order. If requested an individual message can be added at the end of the reference number on rough diamonds only. The laser inscription is only visible under a microscope with a magnification of at least 30.
Examination and certification
After cutting, polishing, and engraving the memorial diamond, the diamond is extensively documented.
Each ALGORDANZA Cremation Diamond is handed over with a certificate, giving information about the origin of the carbon and authenticity as well as other specific characteristics of the cremation diamond. Each certificate is signed by Rinaldo Willy, founder of ALGORDANZA.
Delivery of your cremation diamond
The finished ALGORDANZA Cremation Diamond can either be personally picked up by family members in Switzerland or it will be taken back to ALGORDANZA South Africa. It is at the family’s discretion to either keep the Memorial Diamond in its diamond case or have it set into a piece of jewellery.
Why a cremation diamond as a unique burial alternative?
Memories to cherish and hold on to
Cremation diamonds capture the essence of a loved one and instead of a traditional urn stored at home or at a cemetery, cremation diamonds made from your loved one’s hair or ashes can be kept close with you, or passed on to children as a heirloom.
More affordable than traditional funerals
Cremation diamonds start at R36 000 for a 0.3 ct rough diamond. The diamond’s material (ash or hair), size, cut, and optional laser inscription of your cremation diamond will determine the final price of your diamond. However, the cremation diamond will still cost less than a standard burial, which can cost up to three times more.
Ethically better Diamonds
Many natural diamonds are still obtained through severe human rights abuse as well as the exploitation of children, workers and whole communities. It can cause devastation and severe damage to the land as well as the local water supply. Choosing a cremation diamond made from ashes or hair with the same properties as a natural diamond reduces these very negative effects.