Looking for the perfect gift for your sweetheart? How about a shiny new custom-made ring. It will fit their finger perfectly and let everyone else know how much you care about them. But first, you'll need to ask for informed consent and a bone biopsy. What?!? No, a simple finger measurement won't suffice for this toroidal token. Unfortunately, sampling your sweetheart's skeleton would seem to sap the surprise from a spontaneous gift.
Biojewelery is a form of biotechnology that lets partners wear rings made of bioengineered artificial bone tissue in place of common precious metals or gemstones. Biotechnology like in vitro fertilization, human cloning and stem cells in artificial organs are surrounded by ethical debates. However, each of these technologies target medical conditions. In contrast, biojewelery is entirely ornamental and does not seek to replace any biological function. While some may object to the price, you won't hear debates over whether biojewelery tries to play God or destroys human life. The only ethical speed bump is getting your beloved to agree to having a sample of their wisdom tooth retained.
The first step is for each partner to have a wisdom tooth extracted, to provide the bone sample. Next, the living tissue is grafted onto a ring-shaped hydroxyapatite scaffold and allowed to develop over six weeks. Over this time, the grafted cells will replace the scaffolding with bone tissue. The final step dries the artificial bone and seals it under a layer of epoxy, so the final rings do not contain any living cells. Ironically, these are the same cells that would otherwise carry genetic material, but do not survive the final step.
Mementos and trinkets carrying a likeness of a living loved one aren't new or novel. Lockets, pocket watches and wallet-sized photos ride along in partners' pockets as convenient reminders. Some secure locks of hair behind wedding photos. Newborns beginning life may have footprints imprinted as identification or keepsakes.
Preserving the departed is common throughout the centuries. "Alas, poor Yorick." We know too well the practice of preserving bones in ossuaries or cremated ashes in ornate urns. Those with an eye to ecology might elect to have their ashes embedded in concrete, courtesy of eternal reefs. Plaster death masks preserve the profile of the passed. Jewelry from the nineteenth century included body tissue samples like bone fragments or hair. Sanctified saints' relics include hair, bone or skin samples incorporated into glass reliquaries or woven into tapestries. Families of Japanese Kamizaze pilots in WWII kept fingernails as a remembrance of their soon to be sacrificed loved ones. History buffs with disposable income can purchase pens impregnated with a sample of Lincoln's DNA . For the four-legged, bereaved owners can preserve animal companion DNA in remembrance pendants.
So why wait until the end of your joint journey to memorialize in medullar material? If you've got the funds, fix a fragment of DNA in a ring.