Is dearly departed a diamond in the rough?

There comes a time in all of our all-too-short lives when we have to bid a fond farewell to a loved one.

One day Uncle Elmo is bustling along juggling his wife, mistress and girlfriend while making canny investments in the commodities market and the next he’s wearing a decidedly unlifelike expression and a toe tag.

You want to do right by the old fellow but, like many of us, he’d been too busy living to consider dying and has left absolutely no directions as to what kind of a send-off he’d prefer to have.

Did Uncle Elmo want the traditional coffin-flowers-pallbearers-hole-in-the-ground observance or a simple cremation and scattering of ashes over, say, Shingle Springs?

Did he desire an honor guard from his lodge brothers – or perhaps a full-on Hells Angels motorcycle escort to the cemetery?

Decisions, decisions…

Fortunately for all of us with a lovable but unexpectedly deceased Uncle Elmo, there’s a new memorial solution from a small Chicago firm dedicated to sparkling, permanent memorials to our loved ones.

According to a recent BBC News World Edition report, LifeGem Memorials of Chicago will – for roughly $3,000 to $28,000 – turn the deceased’s cremated ashes into a brilliant synthetic diamond which then can be worn, carried or prominently displayed on the mantle.

Why bury Uncle Elmo when you can wear Uncle Elmo?

LifeGem takes the carbon remains from your loved one and, through a patent-pending process, creates a European Gemological Laboratory-certified synthetic diamond in blue, yellow or red.

“Simply put, we have discovered how to capture the carbon that was always present and, until now, lost during cremation. Once captured, this carbon is placed in one of our unique diamond presses replicating the awesome forces of nature – heat and pressure. A diamond that takes millions of years to occur naturally can now be created from the carbon of your loved one in a matter of weeks…” wrote LifeGem Memorials.

Let’s face it, this is a whole lot cooler than an urn that plays “Happy Trails” or “Anchors Aweigh” every time you life the lid.

“LifeGem created diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in every aspect – brilliance, fire, luster and hardness. Like the rarest diamonds found in nature, our stunning, colored diamonds make a unique statement. The only difference is that natural diamonds are formed with an arbitrary carbon source to create a one-of-a-kind memorial to your loved one,” the company added.

A variety of sizes is available, from a quarter-carat to one-and-a-third carats. They can be purchased loose or placed in a speciality setting.

And more than 100 diamonds can be made from the average loved one. That’s probably enough for all the grandkids, nieces, nephews and a select few of Uncle Elmo’s longtime poker buddies.

Did I hear you say “tennis bracelet”?

Hey, it doesn’t get any better than this, amigos.

Originally published September 8, 2002