My first thought went like this… Man wants to propose. So he does.
She accepts. The ring is placed on her finger at the appropriate time.
That certain special family member is now spanning the ages. One or two
generations later that certain someone has been passed on to someone
far removed from the core family and the significance is far removed
from the original intent.
Then, on one frightful day, the ring, the gem, the special someone…
is stolen or lost. Hmm this sounds like something, a story, I’ve heard
before. Tis fiction… no more.
Dust to dust to … diamonds? US firm turns cremated remains into precious gems
Thu Oct 6,12:12 PM ET
CHICAGO (AFP) – Everyone said she was a gem. Now, just eight ounces of
cremated remains is all it takes to turn your mother into a diamond.
In fact, there’s enough carbon in those ashes to make about 20 gems.
And there will still be several pounds of ashes left over to display on
So far, nobody’s ordered more than 11 diamonds, said Dean VandenBiesen,
vice president of operations for LifeGem, which uses super-hot ovens to
transform ashes to graphite and then presses the stone into blue and
yellow diamonds that retail for anywhere from 2,700 to 20,000 dollars.
“It’s not for everyone,” VandenBiesen admitted, adding that for those
who do chose to immortalize their loved ones in jewelry, the experience
is extremely positive.
“We have people that approach us who have just experienced a tragedy
and they say I can’t wait, I’m so excited about this,” he said. “In the
field of death care, when someone says I’m really excited about this, I
think we’ve achieved what we wanted to do which is change the culture
The success of LifeGem is just one example of a radical shift in the
funeral industry, said Mark Musgrove, immediate past president of the
National Funeral Directors Association.
Americans are moving away from traditional funerals and are seeking
instead less somber occasions that reflect the personality of the
They are also looking for alternative ways to remember their loved ones.
While a decline in religiosity has contributed to the shift, Musgrove said it’s mainly a reflection of a cultural phenomenon.
“Back in the 60’s the baby boomers were getting married in scuba gear,”
he said. “They’re getting older and they have the same individualism.”
A quick stroll through the exhibition hall of association’s annual
conference shows just how far the 11-billion dollar US funeral home
industry has moved towards “personalization.”
Jeff Barrette is leaning on a maroon motorcycle, his leather vest and
scull and crossbones bandana a striking change from the dark suits of
most of his customers.
Displayed in his booth are urns made out of the engine cylinders of
Harley Davidsons and mounted on stands with epitaphs like “Rider’s Last
Rest,” which doubles as the company’s name.
“It holds 270 cubic inches — you could fit a big guy in there,”
Barrette told a potential customer, before explaining that the urn’s
carrying case is specially constructed to fit on the back of a bike in
case “you want to take your buddy for a ride.”
Demand for the 1,350 dollar hand-made urns has been slow, Barrette said, but that’s to be expected in a niche market.
Memorial videos and websites, however, are a bustling business, said
Joe Joachim, president of funeralOne, who has signed up 1,500 funeral
homes in the past five months.
“Our ultimate goal is creating the ultimate funeral experience,”
Joachim said. “We want to make this a celebration of life and take it
to the next level.”
FuneralOne offers software that allows funeral homes to help families
create videos, burn them onto DVDs and even make personalized brochures
and websites. It also offers webcasting services so people who can’t
make the funeral can watch online.
The two-and-a-half-year-old company has recently partnered with
another firm which makes solar-powered video screens that can be
mounted on a tombstone and play a 5 to 10 minute tribute.
The 7-inch (18 cm) serenity panels will hit the market in
January and Vidstone and chief executive officer Sergio Aguirre said he
expects to sell up to 100,000 in the first year.
“Everyone has a story to tell, and what better way than to share it?” he said.