Turning ashes into diamonds, the complete process
Growing a diamond from hair or ashes
First we need 500 grams of cremated remains in order to turn ashes into a diamond, the cremation ashes can be decades old, the carbon content does not diminish.
Our bodies contain a vast number of chemical elements, however after cremation most of those elements are burned away or evaporated, only elements such as boron which is stored in our bones, nails and hair remain. Because of the element boron, natural, pure diamonds from ashes are near colorless to dark blue.
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 memorial diamonds we need at least 5g of hair.
Isolation of carbon
Turning the ashes into a diamond is a multistage chemical process.
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.
Purification of 99.99%
Before a diamond can be grown, we have to increase the purity of the isolated carbon. In order to increase purification, impurities such as nitrogen which makles a diamond yellow or amber, must be removed and vaporised. The distinct graphite structure is then created.
Past this stage of processing, the graphite reaches a purity of approximately 99.99%. The arrangement of the carbon atoms in the graphite structure is essential to significantly advancing the subsequent diamond synthesis.
The growing cell
In the following step the graphite from the cremated remains is set into a specially made container we call a growing cell. Simply compressing and heating carbon is not enough to grow a diamond. A diamond needs to be shown how to grow, within the growing cell is a natural diamond used to start the diamond growth process.
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 the natural conditions within in the Earth.
Growing a diamond
The growing cell is carefully set into a High Presseure High Temperature (HPHT) press with exact pecision. Our HPHT presses are constructed in Germany 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 turns into a diamond.
The longer the growing cell stays in the HPHT-press; the longer the growth process, and therefore the larger the diamond will be.
Opening 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, after the rough cremation diamond is removed it will either be polished or cut, depending on the wishes of our client.
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 taken back to Algordanza in Canada from our Canadian representative, René de Diego.