Austin-grown Eterneva will turn the ashes of loved ones into diamond

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Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

From urns to funerary jewelry, it’s commonplace for the ashes of loved ones to be placed in physical keepsakes. This Austin company takes another approach —  they turn ashes into diamonds.

Founded in Austin, Eterneva grows diamonds from the cremated remains of loved ones. After pitching the concept on Shark Tank four months ago, the Eterneva team struck a deal with Mark Cuban. The episode aired last month which has brought an explosion of new visitors to their website.

In their television pitch, co-founders Adelle Archer and Garrett Ozar wanted to highlight the memories of the people that the diamonds honor. Eterneva seeks to celebrate their stories by sharing pictures and memories of the deceased in their offices or on their website.   

“The experience around the diamond is as special and important as the diamond itself,” Archer said. “This is like a legacy project to the loved one and their story. We publish (photos and videos of the diamond process), so friends and family can subscribe to their loved one’s dedication page and share their stories on social media.”

The process of creating an ash diamond begins by isolating pure carbon from the cremated remains. Then the carbon goes into a machine that generates both the heat and pressure needed to crystallize it into a diamond. For two to three months, a raw diamond grows under the force of 850,000 pounds per square inch, comparable to a 737 airplane weighing on top of a quarter.

“Diamonds are just pure carbon, so is pencil lead,” said Abe Levy, Eterneva operations manager. “And so is the coal. Diamonds are so rare compared to carbon you find in every other form because you need a very specific parameters in order to grow a diamond.”

Since each person’s ashes are unique, diamonds can only be grown one at a time because they require a custom set of conditions. Levy, whose background is in aerospace engineering, oversees the diamond growing process and documents it for each family.

“It’s not just another set of ashes I’m working with,” Levy said. “It’s somebody’s mother, and I know about them. I know what they liked and why they were such an amazing person.”

 

The company can make diamonds from the ashes of pets as well. Often, Eterneva makes engagement rings for those who want their parents who have passed to participate in their wedding ceremony. A wearable diamond can act as a conversation starter, providing the opportunity to remember and share the memories of loved ones, Archer said.

Eterneva seeks to celebrate the stories and memories of the recently deceased. In doing so, they want to change the conversation around death, Archer said. Gaining traction in the United States, the ‘death positive’ movement promotes speaking openly about death and treating it as a natural process that everyone goes through.    

“We know that people feel really uncomfortable talking about death,”said Tracey Wallace, head of brand marketing. “Friends and family want to help people who are grieving, but often they’re afraid to bring the person up. In reality, bringing the person up is what’s already in that other person’s head. So, (Eterneva) talks about (the dead) as honestly as we possibly can and is as approachable as we can.”