A beautiful, blue LifeGem diamond ring.
A few weeks back, I wrote about how I am not a fan of diamond engagement rings and of diamond jewelry, in general. Mostly, this is because I have some moral apprehensions about the way the diamond industry is run. However, I am going to speak out in support of the artificial diamonds created by a company called LifeGem. This company makes artificial diamonds from the cremated remains of deceased humans and animals. The vice president of the company recently came here to MIT to give a talk as part of the geology department’s Diamond Seminar Series. The artificial diamonds the company makes are really beautiful and, clearly, they carry a large amount of meaning for the people who order these diamonds.
At first, the idea of turning your loved one into an expensive artificial diamond may sound a little crazy. I mean, I can just imagine an attractive, middle aged woman out on a date. Her date comments on her beautiful diamond earrings, and she replies, “oh, yes. I turn my deceased ex-husbands into diamonds.” There is a little bit of a creepiness factor to turning dead relatives into diamonds, I must admit. I mean, would Elizabeth Taylor end up with a diamond tennis bracelet made from all her dead husbands?
However, is it really so creepy to turn the ugly remains of dead person into something beautiful? As a geologist, I find the idea of being turned into a diamond when I die sort of appealing. Really, I want to donate my body to science. I mean, I’ll be dead, so I won’t care and it gives me some comfort now to know that my dead body could do something useful. Someone may as well get some use out of my decaying carbon and hydrogen atoms. However, ending up as a nice piece of jewelry worn by a family member would be okay, too.
Funeral rituals are for the living, anyway. Dead Uncle Ernie doesn’t care– or even realize– that he’s sitting in a flower-covered urn on the fireplace mantle. He’s dead. In my atheistic worldview, that’s it. No survival after death, no feelings or emotions after death. Just decomposition and return to the Earth. Or to a diamond, apparently. You can bet that Uncle Ernie’s wife Aunt Betty cares a great amount about that urn full of ashes. Maybe she feels better knowing that some part of her dead husband is still close to her, watching over her from the fireplace. In my opinion, turning cremated ashes into diamonds is just taking the cremated-relative-in-the-living-room one step further. If it gives the living some comfort to own diamonds made from their deceased relatives, then why shouldn’t diamonds be made from dead relatives? Dust to dust, ashes to diamonds.
Interestingly, the company recently announced that they can also make diamonds from locks of hair. So, you can make your living relatives into diamonds, too. Hmm… maybe an engagement ring made from the hair of your beloved is just a little too creepy, but at least it’s not a conflict diamond.