Gone are the days of only traditional U.K. options for those who have lost a loved one -- cemetery burial or cremation. In today’s world, people are interested in finding meaningful alternatives. There are space burials, the scattering of ashes on land or at sea, and even biodegradable urns that will turn remains into a tree. However, for those that want to have a closer physical connection, there is another alternative – turning ashes to diamonds, also known as memorial diamonds.
What are memorial “ashes to diamonds”?
Natural and memorial diamonds look the same, both visually and under a microscope. The only difference between natural and diamonds made from ashes is the process of their origin. Cremation diamonds are created from human remains, ashes and hair, while natural diamonds are created from underground mineral processes.
Physically, structurally and visually, memorial diamonds look the same as diamond stones that you can find in jewellery stores. The physical and chemical data when turning ashes into diamonds is unique for every person, which makes every creation beautiful and singular.
Why a memorial diamond?
Jewellery that turns human ashes into diamonds provides a unique, physical connection to the deceased, which is a significant help to many grieving people who feel comforted by it. Some say their diamonds made from ashes makes them feel less lonely, and still others love the idea of life and death transforming into something beautiful and sparkling.
Some families in the U.K. now opt for more environmentally friendly burials such as Ashes into Glass Stones popular in the Kingdome or Memorial Diamonds, because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, some people who would normally want to tend to the gravesite of the deceased, don’t live close enough to do so. A memorial diamond removes such worries.
Another advantage of a memorial diamond is convenience and the ability to share the loss of a loved one. In our highly urbanized and mobile societies, people move a lot, from city to city, and from country to country. In the U.K., many families have their children studying or working abroad as the young generation now tends to want to explore the world and set their footprints throughout Europe, Australia and North America. For instance, the case of a woman who had five children living in five different continents. She decided to have five memorial diamonds made when she died, so that each of her children could have one, wherever they will be in the future.
Lonité AG opens memorial diamond branch office in London
One company who has been offering memorial diamonds for decades is Lonité AG, a company based near Zürich, Switzerland.
Lonité originates from the Swiss French word “Longévité,” and means “to live a long life.” The Swiss company have recently opened a branch office in London located at 50 Liverpool Street.
Lonité Project Assistant Nicolas Blanc says, “The demand for turning human ashes into diamonds is growing in many areas of the world, including the U.K. We decided to open an office here because we know from experience that many customers want to deliver the remains of their loved ones in person. They feel they are guardians and want to ensure that the remains are handed over carefully and safely, so they will sometimes fly to our London office and meet with us to hand us over the ashes. It helps them a great deal to meet and see the person who will be handling the cremains of their loved ones.”
“We are also finding that customers from Ireland and Scotland prefer to send the ashes by secure mail to our London office, rather than to our facilities in Switzerland,” he continues.
In addition, Lonité’s London office displays diamond samples and sizes, so customers can get a better idea of what their diamond will look like. It also helps them decide whether they want to make the ashes into jewellery. They can turn ashes into rings, pendants, or other types of jewellery of their choices. Lonité offers several of their own designs.
A caring staff is an essential component of Lonité’s philosophy and beliefs
Funeral homes endeavour to hire staff that is not only business-capable, but compassionate and caring. So it is with the business of memorial diamond creators.
“At Lonité, we not only train our staff for their various tasks, but we hire with an eye to those who are by nature compassionate and understanding,” says Thalissa Nivard, Global Business Development Manager. “When you work in this industry, you realize quickly that there are so many people fighting battles we know nothing about,” she continues, “and hearing about their stories makes you want to stay humble and compassionate. I am happy to think that we can help people out through their process of grieving.”
U.K. Customer Service Representative Christel Groenewald states, “I am passionate about helping people in need and am touched deeply by stories of their loved ones.”
Josefin Gericke, Customer Service Representative in Germany explains, “It’s interesting to hear and read the stories of our customers – to see their strength and how they handle their sorrow. It feels like we’re giving them hope and a bit of light in the dark.”
Ashes to diamonds: The procedure to make a diamond from ashes
Changing human ashes into diamonds is a very interesting process. Diamonds are composed of pure carbon crystals. In nature, carbon exists in a graphite form, deep in the mantle. Underground, carbon atoms are surrounded by magma and subjected to great pressure and several thousand degrees of heat. In that environment, the carbon atoms restructure into a denser crystal structure called a diamond.
The human body is composed of 18% carbon, of which 2% remains after cremation, and 3% nitrogen.In memorial diamond laboratories, scientists mimic how the earth creates natural diamonds using the deceased’s cremains. They analyse the components of the ashes and hair and extract the needed carbon. After subjecting the remains to intense heat (3000 Kelvin) and pressure (60,000 Bar) for weeks, the carbon forms into a denser crystal – a diamond.
The diamonds from ashes growing process can take from a few weeks up to a year. The average time for the process to turn ashes to diamonds is six months. The analysis of the ashes and purity of the carbon takes one to two weeks to complete. The growing process can take days to weeks, depending upon the size ordered. A one carat diamond contains 0.2 grams of carbon, which means 200 grams of ashes or 10 grams of hair are needed for each carat. Memorial diamonds can be up to 2 carats in size.
Additional time is then needed to polish the diamond, grade it, and get it certified. Lonité sends all of its memorial diamonds to the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) for further accreditation. GIA’s hi-tech equipment can verify the source of a diamond and confirm that it comes from a specific laboratory, as opposed to a traditionally mined diamond. The Lonité labs are in Switzerland and customers can check the status of their diamond on Lonité’s website or at their London office.
Natural and memorial diamonds come in different colours
Coloured diamonds are found both in nature and in laboratory settings. Scientists know that the different colours are a result of their formation process and their environment, but the exact reasons why some natural diamonds are pink or purple are still unknown. While it’s the carbon thatcreates the structure of the diamond, nitrogen, 3% of which makes up the human body, is responsible for the colour which varies from yellow amber to deep orange.
Type IIa diamonds are the most sought-after diamonds in the world because they contain very little nitrogen or none. Normally, they are colourless, yet they can become brown, pink or yellow through a natural process called plastic deformation, which is a change in the diamond’s atomic structure. The colour change is permanent, without any introduction of any other elements.
Although the nitrogen remaining in the carbon may give the diamond a yellow or golden colour, the exact colour can never be predicted because there are so many factors in the growth of a diamond and the environment in which they are formed that can affect their colour and shade.
Nevertheless, in addition to the amber-toned diamonds, Lonité can create other colours for diamonds made from ashes. Blanc explains, “Some people prefer a colour other than amber. It may seem miraculous, but if you remove the nitrogen and keep the boron inside the carbon, the diamond will become blue.”
In recent years, with improved technology, Lonité can create greenish yellow and red-coloured diamonds, as well as purely colourless diamonds, where the nitrogen is removed from the carbon.
Specific diamond sizes, shapes and colour are up to nature
The final size, shape and colour of the memorial diamond cannot be specifically predicted. It depends upon the chemical composition of the remains received by the labs and the environment in which the diamonds are grown. Sometimes the stones are bigger than what a customer orders, and sometimes they are smaller. Reputable labs will tell their customers this before an order is formally placed.
Every diamond is unique -- no two are alike -- just like theperson they represent.
Funeral traditions and history of the U.K.
Many British funeral traditions and customs still thriving today date back to the Victorian Era. It was then that society developed strict codes of conduct about how a person should be mourned and how their life should be celebrated.
Traditions that are still popular today include funeral announcements, wearing black clothing, having a funeral procession, flowers, burial traditions where soil is thrown onto the coffin as it is lowered into the ground, and wakes.
Cremation is now the most popular type of funeral in the U.K. Because of the Catholic Church’s influence, cremations had ceased for hundreds of years. By the latter part of the 19th century, demands for cremation increased for health reasons and because the cost of Victorian Era
funerals were very high. Cremation became legal in 1902. In 1963, the Pope lifted the ban on Roman Catholics seeking cremations, and a few years after, the number of cremations in the UK exceeded the number of burials.
Other ideas about funerals began to emerge during the last 20 years. There are now burials at sea, and sprinkling of cremated ashes from airplanes, and even remains placed in fireworks. Prearranged funerals are very common, with an abundance of “green” options available – recyclable coffins, woodland burials and memorial trees taking the place of conventional gravestones. Virtual memorial gardens can be accessed on the internet where a biography of the deceased is also accessible, and visitors can write their condolences.
The custom of burial funerals seems to be diminishing in importance. In their stead are memorial gatherings designed to celebrate the life of the deceased in a more positive way than is usually possible at a sombre funeral. Much more emphasis is placed on gratitude and expressions of thankfulness for life.
Alternatives are also sought because of the costs of a traditional burial which can cost £3,897 or more. The average cost of cremation is £3,214. Costs vary by region and by the type of funeral arrangements desired.
How much does it cost to turn ashes into diamonds in the U.K.?
The memorial diamond price of ashes into diamonds (UK) is based on the colour the customer orders, which then determines how long it takes to create the diamond.
Blanc explains memorial diamonds cost saying, “Amber and blue diamond’s take the least amount of time to make, while the pure colourless and coloured stones take longer. The longer it takes, the more expensive the diamond. Because no middlemen are used, their prices are very competitive.”
An overview of U.K. memorial diamonds cost
Memorial diamond costs may vary according to its colour, shape and size. The starting price in the U.K. is usually ranging from £ 1,400.00 to £ 4,300.00 if you request a Naturally Amber colour for instance. Other available memorial diamond colours such as Greenish Yellow or Red, range from £ 1,800.00 to £ 6,200.00. The highest prices concern blue memorial diamonds that range from £ 2,100.00 to £ 12,600.00 as it requires a specific craft technique. Finally, purely colourless memorial diamonds are also possible and are the longest in time to craft. The prices vary from £ 2,200.00 to £ 15,600.00 as it requires more technical efforts to keep pure carbon elements from cremains.
Click here for additional pricing in the U.K.
How to order a memorial diamond from Lonité in the U.K.
Only a few steps are involved in ordering a memorial diamond from Lonité in the U.K. and can be accomplished online or at the London office.
First, you may submit an order information form and sign a contract. The company will arrange to send the ashes from the U.K. to its Headquarters in Switzerland by a secure logistics company. Finally, the customer only pays half of the cost after the container with the ashes arrive in Switzerland and the rest when the diamond order is completed.
For complete instructions on ordering, visit Lonité’s online ordering procedure page.
It is said that a diamond lasts forever. Now it is possible to have one that memorializes the timeless memory of everlasting love.