HOUSTON – In a new and unique way to remember loved ones, people can have human ashes made into a diamond.
It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but more people are doing it, and one of the only companies in the United States that makes these diamonds is just north of Houston, in Conroe.
A struggle many families deal with is what to do with an urn full of a loved one's ashes.
"There is a lot of guilt, because you don't want to hide it or put it in a closet, but what do you do with the cremated remains?" said Christina Martoia, from Algordanza Memorial Diamonds.
Isaias Vega with Del Pueblo Funeral Home said people want more when it comes to saying goodbye.
"The younger crowd always wants to seek something new," Vega said. "Some want to know: When you do a cremation, is that it?"
One option is to have the remains made into a genuine diamond.
"The diamond has always been a symbol of love," Martoia said. "They get to keep their loved one with you wherever you go. That's just so special."
Algordanza Memorial Diamonds in Conroe uses only human ashes to create a one-of-a-kind diamond with a blue hue.
"Nothing is added," Martoia said. "We don't manipulate the color of the diamond, so they will tend to range from a clear to a deep blue. They will always have that sort of blue hue within them, and that is from the element boron. The more boron someone has in their body, the more blue the diamond will be."
More people are opting for cremation after death. In 2017, nearly 50 percent of Americans were cremated instead of having a traditional burial. That is up from about 10 percent in 1980.
There are many reasons for this, which include the cost of a burial and that people move around more, meaning they don't have roots in one place.
"Really, every day I look at it and think about it, it's just beautiful," Martoia said.
Martoia said she knows firsthand how having a memorial diamond can help with grieving someone you love.
"On the 10th anniversary of my dad's passing, I had a memorial diamond made. What is really special to me about my memorial diamond is that every time I show it to someone, I get to talk about my dad," she said. "It's such a great, great way to pay tribute to his life. I always get compliments about it and it makes me happy to remember his life."
The remains are sent to a laboratory in Switzerland, where a high pressure, high temperature machine is used to create the diamond. The longer the diamond sits in the machine, the bigger it can become.
"It's something that will last forever, that you can pass on for generations, to really remember your loved one and as a family heirloom, really," Martoia said.
Algordanza Diamonds start off at around $3,000. They have also had clients turn their pet remains into diamonds. However, they do that work at a different facility.