Death is expensive. Burial of the dead is much worse. One can not typically find burial for any cheaper than $2000, and in fact, in Japan it can easily reach ten times that. Hong Kong only allows six year leases on burial grounds, which must be renewed at exorbitant rates. This is a problem that will likely never become easier to solve.
Cremation has become an increasingly popular way of dealing with departed loved ones. With the rates for cemetary real estate constantly climbing, and cremation generally less expensive, it becomes an almost forced alternative for some people. Another reason for cremation is that you receive the ashes of your loved ones afterwards, which you can keep with you. Keep a reminder of their physical presence, in transmuted form.
The association of cremation with the poor is a revolting stigma, but it is one that has infused some parts of our culture. And, appearances being critical, what is the rich person who needs this physical reminder of their loved one, to do? And having one's ashes in an urn is possibly not the most desirable form for one to be reminded of a loved one. Is there a need here? Possibly, and the International Research & Recovery Corporation has decided to attempt to fill it.
A LifeGem is a product offered by IRRC. It is a synthetic diamond, created with the carbon that is the natural result of the cremation process. It is a diamond made from the ashes of a loved one.
The concept repels some, attracts others, and does both to most. Breaking tradition in dealing with death, in general, is distasteful. The thought of trasmuting the remains of someone into gaudy jewelry certainly seems revolting. The thought of having a diamond, a beautiful gem containing the essence of a loved one, to have with you always, seems desirable. Invariably, people will be split in their perceptions of this.
LifeGem is a trademark, and the process involved is patent pending. You can have your LifeGem created as a blue, red, or yellow diamond. You can also choose the clarity and carat value. The baseline, most inexpensive LifeGem you can get appears to be a yellow diamond, at .25 ct, for $3,000. They will also set your LifeGem into a setting of your choice.
Understandably, the company is low key, with a mood of solemnity. They provide extensive information about the cremation process, for those afraid of what might happen to their loved ones. They provide links to support groups, information on diamonds, guarantees, and generally are what you would expect from any funeral service provider. And at some point, a commercial element is involved in all methods of dealing with the dead. What casket to purchase, which urn, where to place them... Yet, for some reason, there is something difficult to fully accept about the LifeGem concept.
It will be interesting to see the future of this product.
http://www.lifegem.com - homepage of the company LifeGem
http://www.gluckman.com/Dying.html - Information about the high cost of dying