Diamonds are forever: an unusual way to preserve your departed loved ones

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In the Czech Republic, when a loved one passes away the grieving family either has their body buried or cremated - a more individualized and personal approach to keeping the memory of a loved one alive is not at hand. But in a year or two, Czechs will have a third choice: to turn the remains of their loved ones into a shining gem. Dita Asiedu has this report:

The US company LifeGem has been offering this rather unusual service to its clients since 2001. Tom Jasper is from its European headquarters in the Netherlands and explains how the LifeGem is made:

"A LifeGem diamond is made using carbon that is present in the ashes that remain after a cremation but the time we need with a diamond press to press a diamond out of carbon is much shorter than nature does it. Nature takes over millions of years and a diamond created within a diamond press can be produced within days."

The company's European clientele is slowly beginning to warm up to the idea. In Holland alone, one hundred grieving families have ordered the LifeGem, which can cost anywhere between 3,000-18,000 US dollars, depending on the size. Most clients insert the gem into rings or other jewellery.

With plans to open up more branches in Central Europe, the LifeGem Company has already been testing the waters in Hungary for some eighteen months. But, according to the head of the Budapest office, Laszlo Varga, Hungarians have yet to learn to break old habits. So far, only one family has ordered the gem:

"If we compare the prices of a funeral then we could say that our prices are not competitive but they would not represent such an expense that stands out besides the expense of a funeral. Today, the number of cremations is increasing everywhere, not only in Hungary but also in the Czech Republic where the percentage of cremations is really high, we find that the financial consideration is not a problem with LifeGem. It is more the idea of this whole concept of remembering that is new and this is why people are still waiting."

But what about Czechs? Could they warm up to the idea of turning their loved ones into jewellery, for example? Tom Jasper again:

"Choosing a LifeGem is a very personal choice. People will like the idea while others won't like the idea. We know that and we have that experience all over the world. Regarding the need to introduce a product such as this in Hungary or the Czech Republic, even if we can help to give just one family the comfort that they think they will have, then it is worth to take an actual step to introduce the LifeGem in a certain territory. Regarding the Czech Republic, we know that there is a lot of cremation going on and we also know that the economic situation is developing. So, we are planning our priorities on introducing LifeGem and we expect to open an office in the Czech Republic in the mid-term - a year or two from now."