From Ashes to Diamonds               <--Prev : Next-->

When my Mom died we scattered her ashes in the Garden of Remembrance but when Dad died in Namibia the crematorium presented us with his ashes in a fancy mukwa casket. We scattered most of his ashes in the Matopos secreting a bottle of champagne up his favourite kopje and toasting his life with the yellow billed kites.

For years the mukwa casket glared at us remonstratively from the mantle piece until I redecorated the lounge and the casket did not fit into the decor so it was banished to the kitchen shelf next to the tinned fruit but in front of the jellies.

The mukwa casket is handsome mind you but you can go on the internet and order your Human (and Pet) Urns by Rays of Joy who make to order stained Glass Human and Pet Cremation Urns in elegant colours, designer urns or the off the shelf variety. The Companion Urn is a double decker urn specially for loved ones who wish to be together immortally.

Many folk wish their ashes to be scattered in various places which have special meaning in their lives and if you have always been keen on the sea you can visit the Eternal Reefs web site which offers you burial at sea.

An Eternal Reef combines a cremation urn, ash scattering and a burial at sea into one meaningful permanent environmental tribute to life.

Most archeologists believe that cremation was invented during the stone age, about 3000 BCE. 1 It was most likely first used in Europe or the Near East. It became the most common method of disposing of bodies by 800 BCE in Greece, and 600 BCE in Rome. However, other societies had other methods:

in ancient Israel, sepulchers (tombs or vaults) were used for burial; cremation was shunned.

The body was exposed to the air of the tomb and simply decomposed.

the early Christian church also rejected cremation, partly because of its association with Pagan societies of Greece and Rome. Christians buried their dead in graves or in catacombs (underground vaults). in ancient Egypt, bodies were embalmed.

in ancient China, they were buried.

When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the followers of other religions were exiled or exterminated, burial became the only method of disposing of bodies throughout Europe.

An Italian, Professor Brunetti, developed the first modern cremation chamber in the 1870's. This triggered a movement towards cremation in Europe and North America, which has continued to the present day. In 1886, the Roman Catholic Church officially banned cremations. Church members as recently as World War II were excommunicated for arranging them. The Eastern Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople stated in 1961 that "There is no formal Orthodox rule against cremation, but there is a heavy weight of custom and sentiment in favor of Christian burial"

However their are now more modern thoughts entering the burial versus cremation arena.

A company called Gentle Jane in the USA offers snapfreezing of either your bod or your DNA so that you can be recreated in the not so far distant future when the secrets to eternal youth have been found.

The SnapFreezer is a patented technique for the fast freezing of biological samples, biopsies, bodies or suspensions. This unique technique brings a definitive solution for long term stability of your frozen samples for guaranteed results in morphology, histology and molecular biology.

So its not just science fiction, its nearly here !!


But just when you thought being snapfrozen was the newest way to enter the afterlife, and American Company has gone one better offering everyone the chance to return as a rock !!

A very expensive rock mind you. Life Gem situated in Chicago has come up with the idea of turning the carbon found in cremated ashes into diamonds. So rather than visiting loved ones in a cemetery or scattering their ashes at sea or in the Matopos, or keeping them in an urn behind the jellies, relatives can now wear their loved ones set into a ring.

Created diamonds aren't new. Gem quality diamonds have been synthesized in the lab for awhile now and are showing up in many sales catalogs. But a company called LifeGem has come up with a unique twist on diamond creation. They create gemstones from carbon that's captured during the cremation of human remains.

It's not a process that will appeal to everyone, but the company is finding that an increasing number of people opt in to the program in order to leave family members a lasting memento, one that's beautiful and one they can wear all the time.

Carbon released during cremation is captured as a dark powder, then heated to produce graphite. The graphite is sent to a lab where it is synthesized into fancy colored diamonds (clear versions will be available soon). LifeGem recommends you use their cremation process for best results, but the company says it can often retrieve enough carbon to make diamonds from previously cremated remains.

Dozens of stones can be made from one individual. The size selection is currently 0.25 to 1.3 carats, but the company plans to offer larger diamonds soon.

Nature takes millions of years to form diamonds but Life Gem takes two months. Life Gems process to turning dead into diamonds requires oxygen levels to be controlled during cremation to prevent carbon in the body from being converted to carbon dioxide. Once completed a stone can then be turned into a ring or a pendant. And because so little of the deceased is required to make a stone relatives can also receive an urn containing ashes.

Skeptical? LifeGem claims to have an "open door" policy, allowing you to inspect many aspects of their tracking system. The system follows all remains throughout the entire process, from cremation to faceting. They also offer a more advanced type of system that uses internal markers to track remains.

Pets Too? Yes, the company will produce diamonds from your pet's remains.

LifeGem says that its overall quality target is to produce gems at the VVS clarity level (very, very slightly included; very, very slightly imperfect).

It's definitely not for everyone, but LifeGem has indeed come up with a unique memorial option.

Cremation will be the way that I choose to depart this life, hopefully my offspring will not want me decorating their fingers as a diamond !! and the thought of a coffin and a dark hole in the ground is too scary for words but a lot of people more pretentious than I have greater plans for their afterlife.

And if you feel that you would really rather not opt for burial or cremation, like Walt Disney you can opt for cryogenics !!

Cryonics is the use of cryogenic (very low) temperatures to preserve recently deceased human beings with hopes they may be revived at some later date.

The most advanced procedure is called "vitrification". In vitrification more than 60% of the water inside cells is replaced by a mixture of cryoprotectant (antifreeze) compounds so that tissue does not freeze during cooling. Instead, below a temperature of -130 degrees Celsius, the tissue becomes a rigid glass with no ice crystal damage. Chemistry is stopped, and tissue is stable essentially indefinitely.

There are 46 folk currently lying in state in a cryogenic crypt right at this moment waiting for better days !!

Not for me wanting to be preserved for ever in a cryogenic state, can you imagine what this poor world will be like in a few years time ? Its bad enough already, who on earth would want to come back to life later on and inherit all the problems that we are busy creating right now !!