Ashes to di­a­monds for a cool R101 600

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

DI­A­MONDS – and not death – are for­ever. And if you’ve got the money, like one lo­cal woman who forked out $10 000 (R101 600) to have the re­mains of her beloved pug turned into a 0.6ct blue di­a­mond, you can im­mor­talise your com­pan­ion for eter­nity.

Af­flu­ent South Africans are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to com­pa­nies like En­vi­rocin, a pet cre­ma­to­rium and me­mo­rial park, to en­quire about trans­form­ing their loved one’s re­mains into a di­a­mond ring.

The Gaut­eng com­pany sends the ashes of pets – and even hu­man re­mains – to Chicago, where LifeGem, takes at least six months to cre­ate a di­a­mond ring, molec­u­larly iden­ti­cal to nat­u­ral di­a­monds.

The carbon from the cre- mated re­mains – or a lock of hair for those choos­ing buri­als – is con­verted to graphite dur­ing a pu­rifi­ca­tion process, sub­jected to high pres­sure and tem­per­a­tures of be­tween 1 600°C and 2 000°C. The graphite is placed into a di­a­mond press that mim­ics the force needed to cre­ate di­a­monds.

Glob­ally, there are 5 000 peo­ple who have turned their pets and hu­man com­pan­ions into th­ese di­a­mond rings, ac­cord­ing to LifeGem.

Dean Webb, a founder of En­vi­rocin, said some South Africans are build­ing it into their wills to say they want their cre­mated re­mains turned into a LifeGem and will pay for it from their insurance pay­out.

“But po­ten­tially, an heir would say it’s not in their in­ter­est to turn the de­ceased into a di­a­mond and want the cash.”

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