How are Diamonds Made From Ashes or Hair?
Carbon is the element of all life and the foundation of everything we know.
Cremation and Cremated Remains
Cremation has been a means of burial since the Bronze Age. Today cremation is done in modern crematoriums in two phases. The first phase with a temperature of around 900°C and the second phase when the temperature is increased up to 1,200°C, a process which can last up to three hours. The cremated remains of an average adult weigh 2 to 3kg and consist of a vast number of chemical elements. At least 500g of cremated remains are needed in order to isolate enough carbon for the diamond synthesis of at least one large 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
To create a diamond, a multistage chemical process is necessary.
Oxidic and possible metallic elements within the cremated remains are removed chemically and the highly purified carbon is then isolated through filtration.
This isolated carbon weighs only a few grams, yet contains between 50% and 90% amorphic 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 essetial 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 pecision. 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
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.
The rough diamond is uncovered and cleansed from the alloy carefully through an acid bath.
Cut and Polish
ALGORDANZA does not have the means to cut diamonds, however we can recommend an expert diamond cutter. 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 small laser inscription on the diamond's girdle.
The laser inscription consists of the ALGORDANZA signet and the unique reference number of the order. If requested an individual message can be engraved additionally at the end of the reference number. 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 shipped back to ALGORDANZA UK. 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.