A diamond may really be forever

Is there eternal life?

Not yet, but there is a new way to memorialize your loved ones and have them with you at all times. A company based in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village says it can manufacture diamonds made from the carbon compounds captured during the cremation process.

A small number of U.S. funeral homes in five states have signed up to offer memorial diamonds produced by LifeGem.

And a Joliet, Illinois, man who is seriously ill with emphysema says his family plans to place an order when the time comes, The Chicago Tribune reported.

A” LifeGem,” as described by the company’s Web site (www.lifegem.com), is a “high quality” diamond from the carbon remains of loved ones. The diamond that is manufactured from the remains can be placed into a pendant, ring or any other jewelry that the survivors choose and can be worn forever. The company says that diamonds created by the process are “identical to natural diamonds in every aspect—brilliance, fire, luster, and hardness.”

“For two thousand years, grieving families have had two primary options—burial and cremation—to commemorate the life of the deceased and find solace through the grieving process,” Greg HerroCEO of LifeGem Memorials, said in a statement. “Our created diamond offers the most unique and timeless memorial available for creating a testimony to the life of a lost loved one.”

The company first opened in 1991 after spending three years developing the process that could quickly manufacture diamonds from the carbon that was previously lost during cremation. The company says what takes nature millions of years to produce can be replicated using its process in a few weeks.

Ranging from .25 cts. to 1.5 karats, the LifeGem is certified by the European Gemological Laboratory, New York; with clarity ranges from VVS to SI, with the majority rating VS or better, according to the company.

A .25-carat gem stars $3,000 (the company requires a minimum order of two stones), and a 1-carat gem is $22,000, according to its Web site.

Initially, the LifeGem will be produced exclusively in blue, and future options will include red and yellow, the company says. The company, on its Web site, says that it hopes to be able to create diamonds as large as 3 cts.

The company is also offering its services for pet owners.

Eight funeral homes in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin have agreed to become vendors for the product, the company says on its Web site.

With cremations on the rise nationally, LifeGem says it will play an increasingly important part in the grieving and recovery process. According to the Cremation Association of North America, the number of cremations in the United States has tripled since 1973 to more than 700,000 in 2000. In particular, Arizona, Florida, Washington, California and Oregon have the highest cremations rates in the U.S., with a rate of 47% compared to 26% nationally.