LONITÉ, a Swiss company, is opening a branch in Melbourne offering a product for Australian market to hold onto the memories of loved ones in a somewhat unusual but creative way. From the lab, this company is turning cremation ashes into synthetic diamonds for memorial rings and pendants.
The U.S. government estimates at least 15 countries have the technological capability to produce synthetic diamonds. A report by Transparency Market Research in 2014 also valued the global synthetic diamond market at $15.7 billion and predicted that this market will almost double by 2023.
Synthetic diamonds are widely used as abrasives in several major industries including mining and construction. They are also in huge demand in the highly lucrative electronics industry, making good conductors and other important components.
Synthetic diamonds have also slowly muscled their way into the jewellery industry thanks to the equally increasing socially aware consumers that have raised concerns as the sale of illicit diamonds has continually been used to finance warfare and human suffering in some diamond mining countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo for decades on end.
More and more people are being cremated
Demand for cremation in Australia is gradually creeping ahead of burials and this trend is likely to continue over the next few years. Leading social researcher Mark McCrindle was commissioned by the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) in 2014 to gain on understanding of Australian perceptions towards funerals and deliver a statistical snapshot of death in Australia and he found that two thirds of the respondents preferred cremation to burial.
With cremation, people can keep their loved ones’ ashes in one place using urns, scatter the ashes at a favourite location and now they also have the option to turn them into jewellery such as the beautiful memorial diamonds made by LONITÉ.
Synthetic memorial diamonds are made in the lab by applying a high-temperature high-pressure (HTHP) process to carbon. This process was first used in the 1950s by American physical chemist Howard Tracy at General Electric (GE).
LONITÉ uses a similar method to turn cremation ashes into synthetic diamonds and has now become a world leader in the synthetic diamond business, specializing in memorial diamonds. The product is a bright beautiful diamond that you can cherish and carry with you anywhere. LONITÉ accepts both hair and ashes and requires at least 200 grams of ashes and 10 grams of hair for every one diamond.
“We do accept all the ashes when the family want to send all the ashes to us,” says Project Assistant of LONITÉ, Nicolas Blanc. “If there is extra carbon left over at the end of the process, it can either be cremated by us in our lab or sent back with the diamond if requested by the family.”
The ashes are sent to the LONITÉ laboratory where they are analysed and 99.99% pure carbon extracted. The carbon is then placed in the HTHP system to make the diamonds.
The diamonds are as real as the natural ones and perhaps the only difference is the provenance of the carbon. These cremation diamonds can be certified and re-verified at an independent gem institute, like the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA), the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) in Switzerland or even the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA).
Due to the fact that the memorial diamond business encompasses both jewellery and funeral industries, LONITÉ has developed a customer relations strategy that pays a lot of attention to the emotional well-being of the customers during this highly emotional time for them.
“It’s much more than a diamond. We provide support, warmth, and remembrance. People come to us because they need something to keep their loved ones with them,” Jeff Gonzalo, the head of the company’s customer service division, highlights.
Because a “diamond burial” can cost just one third to one half the average amount of a traditional burial, people are now starting to opt out of the relatively more expensive traditional burial.
A LONITÉ memorial diamond makes it very easy to share the memory of a loved one with family and friends that live far apart and also eliminates worries of family members not being able to visit the graveyard or site of their loved one.
Eva Schiffer a customer from Frankfurt, Germany says, “I grew up with my grandmother and she supported me always. I needed to have something with me from her all the time. I know that she is now here again. She will continue to support me. It’s really nice. She looks young and beautiful.”
“I felt lonely when my husband was not here. I will put the diamond into a necklace. We will be always stay together,” comments Mayumi Kanagawa from Tokyo, Japan.