Dying for diamonds. (National).
Want to stay close to Aunt Sally after she's gone? Sure, you could keep an urn of her ashes on the mantle. But why not convert her into a diamond and wear her on your finger. LifeGem, a suburban Chicago company, promises to turn the carbon from cremated remains into sparkling diamonds for about $4,000 per gem. One corpse can yield up to 50 jewels, weighing .25 to 1.3 carats each, the company says. Real diamonds take millions of years to crystallize deep in the Earth, but LifeGem does its work in just 16 weeks. The process converts the carbon released during cremation into graphite, then places it around a microscopic diamond sliver and subjects it to 80,000 times the pressure of the atmosphere. But isn't this a bit ghoulish? "People aren't happy with the normal options that are available, says Kraig Smith, a company spokesman. Interest has been especially robust in Japan, he said, where 98 percent of the dead are cremated. In the U.S. the figure is 26 percent.