The Ashes to Diamonds Process: The Chemistry, The Customers, The Changing of a Conversation

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Turning ashes to diamonds is about a remarkable person. A person you’ll remember forever. Someone who deserves fireworks, and a million floating lanterns, and their name written in the stars!

Let’s celebrate that person!

Of course, turning ashes to diamonds is also about chemistry.

The very first lab grown diamonds were successfully repeatedly grown in 1955 by General Electric after more than a decade of research into the process. Without that research, we wouldn’t be able to make cremation diamonds today.

But lab grown diamonds and cremation diamonds are very different diamonds –– and the processes by which they are made are, too. Of course, the reasons people grow diamonds in a lab and why people turn ashes to diamonds are very different, as well.

Here’s a deep dive of the cremation diamond process, including customer reviews and testimonials, FAQs, and so much more.

Cremation Diamonds Explained

Cremation diamonds, or eternal diamonds, are a very special and unique way to memorialize a loved one. These diamonds are created one at a time by mimicking how the earth creates natural diamonds. The process includes carbon, heat, and pressure.

A Wonderful Way To Commemorate Your Loved Ones

The sudden physical absence of a loved one triggers complex and deeply-felt emotions. In a time of incredible change, it's important to be surrounded by positive people. We believe the same is true for our memorials. We create eternal diamonds that spur uplifting thoughts about a cherished life.

Diamonds are associated with the positive themes of promises and eternal bonds. They aren't a symbol that has historically been associated with death or loss, like urns or headstones. When set in a ring or a necklace, they become memorials that we can take with us through life, and even pass down.

There are a variety of reasons why someone wants to turn their loved one’s ashes into a diamond. For many, the idea of an urn just sitting there on a table is unsettling.

  • What else could they be doing with those ashes?

  • Isn’t there a better way to memorialize someone so important?

There are typical questions for people who often end up Googling “cremation jewelry” or “what to do with cremains,” and find that they can use those ashes to create a diamond that contains their loved one’s carbon.

“I did not want an urn on my shelf or a resting place to visit once in a while,” says Janet. “With the help of Eterneva, I now have John with me every day. I am able to feel his love every time I look at it.”

For other people, it is less about the urn itself just sitting there, and more about carrying your loved one with you, keeping their memory close by, and continuing onto the next chapter of life.

In that way, turning ashes to diamonds as a cremation jewelry option helps people grieve the loss of someone incredibly important in their life, and keep their memory alive.

“I get to be close to my baby girl every day because of this amazing gift. It has made the passing of Lucy more bearable,” says Teresa. “Now, she truly is ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ Thank you to the entire team for all of your support and kindness.”

For others, the turning of ashes to diamonds is just a cool thought –– something they do to memorialize the closest connection of their lives.

“I really cannot thank you guys enough. It is the coolest, most unique experience to get to watch something like this all happen for someone who meant the absolute world to me,” says a customer who wished to remain anonymous.

Whatever the reason, and it’s likely a combination of all the above, having their diamond placed in a ring, a necklace, a watch, or any other piece of jewelry is a great way to memorialize someone, to turn their carbon into an heirloom, and help with the grieving process.

Unlike other cremation jewelry options, ashes to diamonds are bright, personal, and eternal. Each diamond is made uniquely from your loved one’s carbon in an individualized process that you get to watch throughout the 9 months it takes to create.

Here’s how it all works.

Our Ashes to Diamond Process Explained

Heat, pressure, time and carbon. That's what's needed for a diamond to form in the earth's mantel. Our scientists use state-of-the-art equipment to simulate the same conditions for your cremation diamond.

Here is how it works, high-level.

  1. A remarkable transformation: We isolate the carbon from the ashes. This stage and all others are filmed or photographed and shared with you for quality assurance. (1.5 - 2 Months)

  2. A diamond emerges: Through a custom, individualized process of heat and pressure, your loved one's diamond will grow. (2-3 Months)

  3. Cut, Polished, Set by Masters: Your diamond is cut in Antwerp (1 Month), graded and engraved (1 Month), colored* (1-3 Months) and set (1 Month)* *Coloration and jewelry settings are optional

  4. An unforgettable homecoming: The return of your loved one’s diamond is a special day, so we arrange for every diamond to be hand-delivered.

Your loved one's carbon is unique, so we carefully tailor the experience to suit. Over time, a diamond grows from the ashes.

After the diamond has fully formed, our master cutters study the diamond to ensure we can get the desired size, free of inclusions. We then have it graded and engraved. If you’ve chosen a colored diamond, it may go through an additional coloration process.

If you choose to have the diamond set, we'll introduce you to one of our expert jewelers. Every step is documented and sent to you, so you can be confident in the care we take.

Your loved one’s eternal diamond will be as unique as them. The diamond is completely custom-made across an intricate process. We work on everyone individually, with incredible precision and care.

Step 1: Carbon Purification.

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When you send in your loved one’s ashes, the first step of the process is to purify the ashes into carbon in the form of graphite.

This is necessary because most carbon is burned off during the cremation process, leaving behind only carbonates.

Carbonates are very strong molecular bonds between carbon and another element, like calcium or oxygen. These molecular bonds are too strong to be burned off as oxidized gas during cremation.

In addition, cremains contain other elements as well as carbonates, specifically phosphates and boron, both of which are helpful in the formation of bones.

Because diamonds are made of pure carbon, all other elements must be burned off in the purification process.

To do that, we use a high heat, no oxygen environment and an inert gas. The goal is to break the molecular bond of the carbonate and burn off everything else within the ashes so that we are left with only elemental carbon in the form of graphite.

This is what the elemental carbon looks like once it has been purified.

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From here, the graphite is ground up into a fine powder and is placed in a growth cell.

Step 2: Diamond Growth.

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The diamond growth process begins once your loved one’s ashes have been purified into carbon in the form of graphite and then ground into a fine powder. From here, the powder is put into a growth cell containing a diamond seed as well as additional purified carbon that will aide in growing a larger diamond.

The diamond seed is an important part of the process. Imagine it as the piece of sand in an oyster around which the pearl growth. This seed is providing the basic structure for the carbon in the growth cell to model after.

Our Scientists Building the Growth Cell

Keep in mind that diamonds are pure carbon, but so too is coal and pencil lead (which is graphite). Similar to how water can be an air, liquid, or gas –– the heat, pressure, and molecular bonding pattern of the carbon is what create the final product.

Once the growth cell is ready, it is placed into a High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) machine.

Difference in Diamond Growth Processes Between Lab-Grown and Cremation Diamonds

Most lab-grown diamonds are created in a Carbon Vapor Deposition (CVD) machine, whereas cremation diamonds are created in High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) machines. The bigger differences here is that CVD machines produce multiple diamonds at a time.

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The CVD lab-grown diamond process which create multiple diamonds per run.

HPHT machines produce only one diamond at a time. This is often why cremation diamonds are more expensive than lab-grown diamonds, because they are created individually.

This also accounts for various price points for lab-grown diamonds. Some diamonds will grow larger than others during this CVD process, some diamonds will also have larger inclusions than others. The final price of the lab grown diamond is determined based on the final carat, cut, color, and clarity of that diamond.

For cremation diamonds, the size, cut, and color are decided prior to purchase and the diamond is grown specifically to hit the specifications decided upon.

There are two types of HPHT machines: Bars press and Belt press. Both machines attain the same high temperature and pressure needed to create a diamond, and both create only one diamond per instance. The difference is how they apply the pressure.

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Image of an HPHT Bars Press Machine

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Image of an HPHT Belt Machine

In these HPHT machines, the conditions below the earth’s crust are replicated. Temperatures inside the machine are above 2,500 degrees Celsius (the temperature of the mantle) and more than 1,450ksi of pressure.

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This process takes anywhere from two to three months depending on the desired size and color because it is not uncommon for us to need to grow a diamond a couple of times until it is perfect.

Technically, each diamond growth cycle takes only 7-10 days. The extra time added in is to ensure that your loved one’s diamond meets your precise specifications. Everyone's carbon is uniquely different, so our scientists need to test and find the perfect combination of heat and pressure for each individual person.

Here is a recent message we received from one of our scientists in regards to a diamond we are growing:

“Megan's first cycle of diamond growth went really well in terms of growing the size diamond we're looking for, but there were some inclusions in the center of her stone so we're adjusting our set points and going into our second cycle!”

We’ll get more into the importance of inclusions (or imperfections) in step 3.

Naturally occurring colors are colorless, blue, and yellow. We’ll get into that more in a moment.

After these months, there is now a raw diamond created with the carbon of your loved one.

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This is what the raw diamond still in its growth cell looks like.

Technically, we don't know what your loved one’s diamond is going to look like until it's finished growing and we mine it out of the growth cell. All diamonds will have naturally occurring inclusions.

The three types are:

  1. Air pockets.

  2. Areas of uncrystallized carbon.

  3. Metallic fragments from the metal alloy in the growth cell.

When we go to cutting, we need to cut around all of these inclusions to ensure we get you a really nice quality diamond, which brings us to Step #3: diamond cutting.

Step 3: Diamond Cutting

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Once the diamond is finished growing, it is now time to cut the diamond to the proper shape.

This is where we will know for sure if the target carat size has been reached.

Like naturally occurring diamonds, lab-grown diamonds and cremation diamonds often come out of their growth with inclusions (or imperfections). These intrusions must be cut around for a clear diamond (the clarity aspect of diamond grading within the 4Cs – cut, clarity, color, carat).

The Clarity Grade

  • I (1,2) – “Included” you can visibly see inclusions with the naked eye

  • SI (1,2) – “Slightly Included” there may be inclusions that are visible but they are very difficult to see with the naked eye and likely need a trained eye to spot

  • VS (1,2) – “Very Slightly Included” inclusions need at least 10x magnification to be seen

  • VVS (1,2) – “Very Very Slightly Included” Same as above but 20x magnification

  • IF – “Internally Flawless” There are zero defects (only about 0.1% or less of diamond get this grade)

This means that the diamond will shrink in size from its original size.

With lab-grown diamonds, diamond cutters use computer software to determine the largest carat option for each diamond and cut to achieve the highest grade across all 4 Cs: clarity, cut, color, and carat.

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Sample Diamond Scan

With cremation diamonds, the diamond size and shape have already been specified and the diamond has been grown specifically for the desired carat, cut, and color –– assuming high clarity.

Master cutters in this scenario also use computer software to see which angles will be the easiest to get the right cut and carat while getting rid of any inclusions.

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Popular diamond cuts.

From here, the diamond cutter uses a sawing and grinding process to achieve the desired cut. The cutter uses scanning and examination though a loop to determine where the imperfections (inclusions) are in the rough, after which they must decide which side of the diamond will become the “table” –– which is the top of the diamond.

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Parts of the diamond.

Facets and the lower girdle are then cut. Finally the diamond is polished through very fine grinding so you cannot see any grind marks from the cutting process on the diamond.

Diamond Cutting Process Timeline:

  • Step 1: Inspection

  • Step 2: Creating the Table

  • Step 3: Polish Facets (Shaping)

  • Step 4: Brooding (Cutting)

  • Step 5: Final Polish

  • Step 6: Gemology for final inspection and grading

The Cut Grade

Cut is the most important of the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, carat) because it has the greatest influence on a diamond's sparkle/brilliance.

Cut grade is based on the proportions and angles of the facets and ratios of the depth to diameter. When diamond cuts are made with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond (referred to as the Table). If the cuts are too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.

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Diamond Cut Grading Scale

  • Poor/Fair: Will appear dull or glassy

  • Good: Reflects most light (this is an “ok” grade)

  • Very Good: Nearly an ideal cut but slightly off

  • Ideal: only about 3% receive this grade all angles and proportions are within 1 degree of perfect

  • Astor Ideal: Less than 1% get this grade, considered a “perfect” cut

Eterneva’s Master Diamond Cutter

The cutter for Eterneva diamonds is one of the most highly regarded in the Antwerp diamond district. The company only uses cutters with 25+ years of experience to handle our diamonds. Every diamond is worked on individually and maintains the same customer and diamond ID numbers within the cutter’s system. Each rough diamond is scanned to create the ideal cutting plan based on the cutter’s experience.

Step 4: Diamond Coloring.

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This is the stage where we transform the color of the cremation diamond to its intended color. Diamonds can be grown within the HPHT machine as colorless (pure carbon), blue (includes added boron), or yellow (includes added nitrogen).

After the cut phase, the diamond can then be colored to its intended color. This process is irreversible.

Cremation diamond color options include:

  • Colorless

  • Blue

  • Yellow

  • Red

  • Pink

  • Green

  • Black

There are two types of coloration: irradiation and HPHT treatment.

Irradiation Diamond Coloration

  • Controlled radiation (electron bombardment) reacts with trace elements to alter color structure of diamond

  • All diamond colors can be achieved through this process

  • Final color is highly dependent on trace element composition

    • Pink and Green yield best results with very low nitrogen content

    • Red and Black can start from a darker yellow with higher nitrogen content

HPHT Diamond Coloration

  • High pressure and temperature aneals the crystal structure

  • Redistributes element composition

  • Can lighten a darker yellow to a lighter yellow color

  • Can be used to enhance the color of irradiated pink or green

Which coloration process is used for your diamond depends on the desired final color and the color of the diamond after it leaves the growth cell.

Examples of Cut, Colored, and Set Eterneva Diamonds:

In order, the colors are colorless, blue, pink, black, yellow, red.

The Color Grade

Colorless diamonds and colored diamonds are graded differently. Colorless diamonds follow the chart below and are graded D-Z along a colorless to light scale.

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Colored diamonds are graded along a scale of faint to fancy vivid:

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Step 5: Grading the Diamond

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Each cremation diamond receives a final diamond grading report. That report details the cut, clarity, color, and carat of the diamond. It looks like this:

What is the International Gemology Institute?

The IGI was established in 1975 in Antwerp where it remains headquartered today. It has offices in New York City, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Los Angeles, Kolkata, New Delhi, Surat, Chennai, Thrissur, Ahmedabad, Shanghai, and Cavalese. IGI is the largest independent gemological laboratory worldwide, and is a diamond, colored jewelry and jewelry certification organization.

Their main competitor is in the space is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which works closely with De Beers. IGI, on the other hand, has developed more of a reputation and expertise for grading lab-grown diamonds.

Both of these organizations are well-respected and well-known worldwide. Unfortunately, their success has spawned offshoot gemological schools, many of which are fraudulent.

Step 6: Bringing Them Home.

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Once the diamond is grown, cut, colored, and graded, it is hand-delivered back home to you for safekeeping and setting.  

Some people choose to work with their own jewelry for a setting, and others use Eterneva. We can help you find and set the diamond in a piece you love, or are happy to hand-deliver your diamond home for your next chapter.

After all, the diamond homecoming day is an incredibly special day. Many people throw small parties or get-togethers with friends and family as support. Others film their reactions to seeing the diamond for the first time and share those videos with loved ones who are farther away.

Psychologically, this is the day you’ve been waiting for more than 8-10 months. They are back home in the form of a diamond. Their brilliance is back. Their facets. It’s a moment worth celebrating.

How Much Does It Cost To Turn Ashes Into A Diamond?

The price to turn ashes into diamonds typically begins at $2,500, and is heavily influenced by the carat and color desired. Here is a quick breakdown of cost based on color:

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Color Begins At
Colorless $2,999
Blue $2,999
Yellow $2,490
Green $2,690
Red $2,690
Pink $4,499
Black $4,499

What Types of Diamonds Can I Get Created?

Cremation diamonds can be grown up to 1 carat in size. They can colorless, blue, yellow, green, red, pink, or black.

Cremation diamonds are most often cut into round, cushion, asscher, radiant, or emerald cuts because these cuts yield the largest diamonds.

They can also be cut into pear, marquise, oval, and princess cuts.  These cuts, however, yield lesser carat weight so we don't recommend them as much.

Cremation diamonds are often set in rings, necklaces, earrings, and watches.

Examples of Customers Who Turned Cremation Ashes Into Diamonds

There are hundreds of examples of customers who have turned cremation ashes into diamonds. For them, the diamond has been a major healing point in the grief process, a way to take their loved one with them daily, and a reminder of the beautiful life they led.

So many of our customers are moved to tears when they receive the diamond of their loved one. And not tears of sadness, but of joy and relief. The diamond is a homecoming of their loved one.

Across eight to ten months, our customers find comfort and purpose in the collaborative Eterneva process. Each choice gives rise to memories, and instills meaning. Choosing a diamond hue the color of your loved one's eyes; selecting a diamond shape that represents your loved one's personality.

Here are a few ashes to diamond reviews and customer examples.

Janet Honors John with a Memorial Diamond.

When Janet lost her husband John, she wanted something that wouldn’t just sit on a table or be a gravesite she’d go and visit. She wanted to be able to take him with her, and a cremation diamond turned out to be the perfect fit.

“When you lose someone remarkable from your life, you will forever want to remember and cherish them in a special way. Eterneva helped me to create the trigger that elicits the incredible and amazing memories of the times and love that I shared with my husband John.

He had the most amazing blue eyes and it was Eterneva that helped me create the beautiful diamond that is blue like those amazing eyes that I cherish. I had the diamond set in a ring that includes diamonds from our wedding rings. Every morning when I put it on, I start my day with those beautiful memories of our journey through life and love.

This ring will be passed on to family for generations to come and trigger amazing memories for them as well.”

Jackie Memoralizes Her Daughter Katie

When Katie passed away, her parents wanted to memorialize her in a way that reflected the brightness she brought into their lives. Turned her ashes into a diamond was their preferred way to remember her legacy.

“My beautiful, sweet Katie turned into an amazing blue diamond (Katie's favorite color). I wanted a diamond that would be as beautiful as sparkling and she was and that's exactly what Adele and Eterneva gave us.

Thank you so incredibly much! No words will ever be enough! If you're hesitating because it's pricey, it is. But do your research. Even my jeweler was highly impressed with the process and how unique it is!! You and your loved one deserve nothing less.”

David Keeps His Wife’s Memory and Sparkle Alive

Roberta had an infectious smile and a spirit filled with laughter and adventure. She had a gift for making others feel like the most important person in the world. When Roberta was diagnosed with cancer, she turned it into a calling, and created a support blog that assisted thousands of women fighting cancer.

When Roberta passed, her husband David went looking for something special to memorialize his ray of sunshine. When he learned you can turn ashes to diamonds, he knew that was it.  He had a yellow diamond made for his girl, it set it in his wedding ring as his eternal vow to loving her.

Common Questions About Turning Ashes Into Diamonds

Are cremation diamonds real diamonds?

Yes, they’re 100% real diamonds, just made from the carbon in ashes or hair. They're even graded by a third party for authenticity (IGI).

When you commission an eternal diamond, they are completely custom-made. Our process is long and intricate, and requires incredible precision to create an eternal diamond exactly to your specifications.

Is turning ashes into diamonds a scam?

No, ashes into diamonds are not a scam.

Unfortunately, some cremation diamond companies are not incredibly transparent throughout the diamond cremation process. Because of this, there has been speculation about the legitimacy the ashes to diamonds process.

This lack of transparency is exactly why Adelle Archer started Eterneva. When she lost her close friend and business mentor, Tracey, she received some of her ashes from her family. She Googled “what to do with ashes” and struggled to find anything that resonated with her, and that did right by Tracey.

That is, until she ran across ashes to diamonds. She researched the companies, but didn’t feel comfortable sending in her friend’s ashes. So, given Tracey was her business mentor, Adelle dug her feet in, researched the process, contacted the labs, and started a company based on transparency throughout the process, honestly, and trust.

In addition, some people claim that all carbon is burned off during the cremation process. This is partially true. Carbonates are not burned off during that process, and that is the material from which the carbon used for cremation diamonds is extracted from.

That carbon in the form of graphite is then used to grow a diamond in a HPHT machine that grows only one diamond at a time. Extra carbon that is not the carbon of your loved one is also used in this process to achieve the diamond carat desired. No, cremation diamonds are not made from 100% human carbon.

Unlike natural or lab-grown diamond, however, they do contain double digit percentages of your loved one’s carbon.

Where can I find reviews from people who used Eterneva?

The reviews easiest to find are on Google, Facebook, or YouTube. However, because of the personal relationship we build with our customers, may for our favorite reviews come intext or email form. You can find many of those at the Eterneva Reviews page.

What color will the diamond be?

Memorial diamonds can be colorless, blue, yellow, red, pink, green, or black. Your diamond will be whichever color you choose.

How many diamonds can be made?

A half cup of ashes can make multiple diamonds. We make the amount of diamonds you request. The extra ashes are used in the case the first growth doesn’t achieve the desired carat size, or in the case the diamond is lost by the customer and it needs to be regrown to replace the jewel.

Are there other companies who turn ashes into diamonds?

There are multiple companies that turn ashes into diamonds.

  • Eterneva: Eterneva launched in 2016 when one of the co-founder’s close friends and business mentor died quickly from pancreatic cancer. She was our first customer, and built the foundation for a transparent company that shows people every step of the process their loved one goes through as they become a diamond. Eterneva is based in Austin, Texas.

  • LifeGem: LifeGem was the original ashes to diamonds company started 17 years ago. They are based in Chicago, Illinois and are family-owned and operated.

  • Lonite: This ashes to diamond company is located in Switzerland and focuses heavily on the scientific process of cremation diamonds and often has the scientifically-minded as customers.

  • Algordanza: Algordanza is an international ashes to diamonds company headquartered in Switzerland. They claim that the memorial diamond is only a blue diamond because there is boron in the body. This company may use different purification practices than Eterneva, but in Eterneva’s purification process, all boron is burned off as we break the molecular bond of the carbonate to extract elemental carbon.

  • Heart in Diamond: Heart in Diamond is based in the UK with operations around the world. They claim to be a certified memorial diamond manufacturer, though there is no such certification process as of yet.

What distinguishes you from these companies?

Eterneva’s biggest differentiator in the ashes to diamonds industry is that we are the new-comer, started by someone who didn’t trust those companies that already existed. To build trust, we’ve created a transparent process through which family members are kept up to date and receive regular updates, pictures and videos of their loved one’s ashes going through each stage of the process.

We were founded on the core value of serving our customers, helping them to find positivity and joy, listening to them and understanding where their heart is at, and sweating the details of the creation process and customer experience.

For each loved one or pet, we post their picture up on our inauguration wall, do dedication posts on Instagram, and have team lunches where we share the amazing stories and lives of those that are becoming diamonds.

This isn’t a process for everyone. It’s one for the remarkable. It’s a process for the deepest connection in your life, and we’re honored to even get to hear the stories first hand and to work to live our lives a little better because of theirs.

Conclusion

At Eterneva, what we do is both a metaphor and a reality. We make diamonds from ashes. When someone passes, it can be hard to see the light for the shadows. That's where we want to be a force of hope. We believe there's a positive way to help people process the complex emotions that surround the death of a loved one.

We want to be a source of celebration for those coping with the death of a partner, a friend, a child, a parent. Through a collaborative and surprisingly uplifting process, we help families and friends honor the bright moments of a life. Meanwhile, the ashes of their loved one are evolving into a diamond that they'll be able to hold close.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE DIAMONDS FROM ASHES PROCESS?

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Tracey Wallace

Tracey is the Head of Brand Marketing at Eterneva, where she works with customers to tell the incredible stories of their loved ones to help us all live better, more thoughtful lives right now.