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Natural vs. Synthetic Diamonds

Natural vs. Synthetic Diamonds

Doing that whole down on one knee thing? If you’re considering buying a rock you should know science has come up with a way to make stones that look exactly like natural diamonds. Sound unromantic? There are some pretty compelling reasons to consider.

Here’s what you need to know.. First of all, when we’re taking synthetic diamonds we’re not talking fakes. These ain’t no cubic zirconia. These stones are virtually identical, right down to having the same optical, physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds.

Natural diamonds are formed when carbon is compressed deep in the Earth’s crust for millions of years under intense heat and pressure. Synthetic diamond producers simulate the same conditions but speed up the process. So instead of millions of years, we’re talking weeks! Natural diamonds are mined; synthetic diamonds are grown. There are a couple of methods, but both start with a diamond seed  that’s a tiny piece natural of synthetic diamonds. It acts as a template that forces carbon atoms to align in the same lattice crystalline structure that makes diamonds so sparkly. The result? Natural and synthetic stones are chemically identical and you can only tell the difference in a lab. In fact, since a lab-grown diamond is virtually a diamond, one grower’s group is lobbying the US Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the word synthetic when describing them. They prefer the word cultured.

Natural stones can have significant Eco and ethical costs. Mining can have serious environmental effects. Synthetic stones, on the other hand, have a much smaller footprint. There’s also a difference between synthetic and simulated diamonds. If a diamond says it’s synthetic or lab-grown, it’s a diamond just not one that came from the ground. Stones that are sold as simulated diamonds and diamond substitutes like cubic zirconia, clear quartz and moissanite are sparkly, but they’re not diamonds.

So if you like it and want to put a ring on it, there are options.

Source – CBC Marketplace

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Understanding Grief

Understanding Grief

Although many of us are able to speak frankly about death, we still have a lot to learn about dealing wisely with its aftermath: grief, the natural reaction to the loss of a loved one and the difficulty to understand grief.

Relatively few of us know what to say or do that can be truly helpful to a relative, friend or acquaintance who is grieving. In fact, relatively few who have suffered a painful loss know how to be most helpful to themselves.

Two new books by psychotherapists who have worked extensively in the field of loss and grief are replete with stories and guidance that can help both those in mourning and the people they encounter avoid many of the common pitfalls and misunderstandings associated with grief. Both books attempt to correct false assumptions about how and how long grief might be experienced.

One book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK, by Megan Devine of Portland, Ore., has the telling subtitle Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand. It grew out of the tragic loss of her beloved partner, who drowned at age 39 while the couple was on vacation. The other book, especially illuminating in its coverage of how people cope with different kinds of losses, is Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving, by Julia Samuel, who works with bereaved families both in private practice and at England’s National Health Service, at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

The books share a most telling message: As Ms. Samuel put it, There is no right or wrong in grief; we need to accept whatever form it takes, both in ourselves and in others. Recognising loss as a universal experience, Ms. Devine hopes that if we can start to understand the true nature of grief, we can have a more helpful, loving, supportive culture.

Both authors emphasise that grief is not a problem to be solved or resolved. Rather, it’s a process to be tended and lived through in whatever form and however long it may take.

The process cannot be hurried by friends and family, however well meaning their desire to relieve the griever’s anguish, Ms. Samuel wrote. Recovery and adjustment can take much longer than most people realise. We need to accept whatever form it takes, both in ourselves and in others.

We can all benefit from learning how to respond to grief in ways that don’t prolong, intensify or dismiss the pain. Likewise, those trying to help need to know that grief cannot be fit into a preordained time frame or form of expression. Too often people who experience a loss are disparaged because their mourning persists longer than others think reasonable or because they remain self-contained and seem not to mourn at all.

I imagine, for example, that some adults thought my stoical response to my mother’s premature death when I was 16 was unnatural. In truth, after tending to her for a year as she suffered through an unstoppable cancer, her death was a relief. It took a year for me to shed my armour and openly mourn the incalculable loss. But 60 years later, I still treasure her most important legacy: To live each day as if it could be my last but with an eye on the future in case it’s not.

Likewise, I was relieved when my husband’s suffering ended six weeks after diagnosis of an incurable cancer. Though I missed him terribly, I seemed to go on with my life as if little had changed. Few outside of the immediate family knew that I was honouring his dying wish that I continue to live fully for my own sake and that of our children and grandchildren.

Just as we all love others in our own unique ways, so do we mourn their loss in ways that cannot be fit into a single mold or even a dozen different molds. Last month, James G. Robinson, director of global analytics for The New York Times, described a 37-day, 6,150-mile therapeutic road trip he took with his family following the death of his 5-year-old son, collecting commemorative objects along the way and giving each member of the family a chance to express anger and sadness about the untimely loss.

Ms. Devine maintains that most grief support offered by professionals and others takes the wrong approach by encouraging mourners to move through the pain. While family and friends naturally want you to feel better, pain that is not allowed to be spoken or expressed turns in on itself, and creates more problems, she wrote. Unacknowledged and unheard pain doesn’t go away. The way to survive grief is by allowing pain to exist, not in trying to cover it up or rush through it.

As a bereaved mother told Ms. Samuel, You never get over it, you get on with it, and you never move on, but you move forward.

Ms. Devine agrees that being encouraged to get over it is one of the biggest causes of suffering inside grief. Rather than trying to cure pain, the goal should be to minimize suffering, which she said comes when we feel dismissed or unsupported in our pain, with being told there is something wrong with what you feel.

She explains that pain cannot be fixed, that companionship, not correction, is the best way to deal with grief. She encourages those who want to be helpful to bear witness, to offer friendship without probing questions or unsolicited advice, help if it is needed and wanted, and a listening ear no matter how often mourners wish to tell their story.

To those who grieve, she suggests finding a nondestructive way to express it. If you can’t tell your story to another human, find another way: journal, paint, make your grief into a graphic novel with a very dark storyline. Or go out to the woods and tell the trees. It is an immense relief to be able to tell your story without someone trying to fix it.

She also suggests keeping a journal that records situations that either intensify or relieve suffering. Are there times you feel more stable, more grounded, more able to breathe inside your loss Does anything a person, a place, an activityadd to your energy bank account Conversely, are there activities or environments that absolutely make things worse.

Whenever possible, to decrease suffering choose to engage in things that help and avoid those that don’t.

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Diamonds are Forever with Algordanza

Diamonds are Forever with Algordanza

Turn the cremated remains of a loved one into a diamond and unique “in memoriam” object
Posted on January 22, 2014 by MaryFrances Knapp (Blog Writer, SevenPonds)

“Every diamond from each person is slightly different. It’s always unique,” explains Ronaldo Willy, the founder of Swiss company Algordanza. Thanks to Willy, family members can now carry more than a memory of a loved one with them,  they can carry Grandma herself. In memoriam never looked so dazzling. And with over 900 remembrance diamonds created annually, Algordanza considers itself to be a stand-out player in today’s flurry of end of life options. In 2013 alone, we’ve learned that we could become part of a coral reef or a planted tree; a man-made cloud or interred in a skyscraper cemetery.

Algordanza is different. It’s just as innovative, but it’s also a firm guardian of the familiar, upholding the memorial tradition of  the family heirloom.

“It’s a wonderful and ageless alliance to a beloved person.”
Algordanza on its cremation diamonds

The Algordanza lab.

A natural diamond is formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, surfacing after millions of years through a volcanic eruption. Algordanza recreates a similar phenomenon at a toasty 2000 degrees Fahrenheit to make their memorial diamonds, in which a loved one’s cremation ashes are reduced to carbon and compressed for weeks.

“They are solely generated from the cremation ashes handed over  without any additives and admixtures.”

Most of the diamonds are ordered by family members for their loved ones, Willy says, but on occasion, people come to them with their own end of life plans in mind.

An Algordanza diamond.

There’s also an element in Algordanza’s cremated stones that you can’t find in any other natural or man-made diamond: they turn out blue. Due to the fact that humans contain varying amounts of boron, there are endless variations in colour for each person’s stone. The colour brings an appropriate air to the in memoriam object by evoking at once serenity, somberness and reflection. That there are unique shades for each diamond only adds to the gem’s role as an extension of the loved one’s individuality, a final, eternal thumbprint. For more info email the MD at

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How Algordanza Diamonds are Made

How Algordanza Cremation Diamonds are Made>

A great article about Algordanza Memorial Diamonds with insights on how to turn Ashes into diamonds, from Business Insider UK by Kelly Dickerson:

The idea of wearing your deceased loved one around your finger or neck might be a little unsettling, but that’s exactly what a company called Algordanza does: transform human ashes into a memorial diamond.

We first heard about the service through the film “As Above, So Below” at the Imagine Science Film Festival, and were so intrigued we asked Algordanza for more details on how you can transform a human’s cremated remains into a diamond.

How diamonds form naturally

Diamonds are essentially just pressurized carbon atoms. When carbon atoms are exposed to extreme pressure and high temperatures, they stick together in an organized fashion to form crystals. One carbon atom covalently bonds to four others during this process, and the longer the carbon stays under extreme pressure and heat, the more carbon atoms will lock together in this rigid formation, and the bigger the diamond will be.

Since diamonds are made of carbon, and the human body is roughly 18% carbon, it’s possible to transform human ashes into diamonds. Skeletal fragments are the only thing that remains after a human is cremated, and they are ground up and presented to the family in an urn.

It’s possible to separate out the carbon from the other elements in the ashes and those carbon atoms can be used to mimic the natural diamond-making process in the lab. These “memorial or cremation” diamonds produced by Algordanza have the exact same physical and chemical properties as regular diamonds, according to the Algordanza website.

The cremation of a typical adult produces about five pounds of ashes, and according to the Algordanza website, at least 1.1 pounds of those ashes are required for the process to work.

The Algordanza process

Creating a diamond from human ashes is actually pretty simple.

Each sample of ashes is first chemically analyzed. Frank Ripka, Algordanza’s CTO, said this is an essential step because every country has its own traditions and laws that determine how a cremation is handled. Before any chemical alterations can be made, the non-carbon elements that get mixed in with human ashes things like salts are sorted out, dissolved, and then removed. This kind of cleaning process is necessary because a high-quality diamond can only form if the sample is at least 99% carbon.

But Ripka said the first cleaning is not enough. The ashes are put into a growing cell like the one in the picture below, and a catalyst made of a mixture of elements like iron and cobalt is added, which helps pull out even more contaminants from the ashes.

These growing cells help remove impurities from the ashes. Algordanza/courtesy of Frank Ripka

The cleaned ashes are then put in a chamber like the one below. Intense pressure and heat are gradually applied, and the carbon actually turns into graphite. Graphite is just a different physical state of carbon where the atoms are bonded together in flat sheets. Ripka said the pressure eventually reaches about six gigapascals (60,000 times the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere) and the temperature rises to about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

The atoms bind tightly together under this extreme pressure and temperature in the same way natural diamonds form.

According to Ripka it only takes about a week for the cremation diamonds to form since they grow at a rate of about 0.2-0.4 carats per day in the lab.

A diamond that forms in a natural environment expands in all directions. These are called raw diamonds. But if the carbon is put in a growing cell, it allows technicians to grow the diamond in a predetermined shape, and that’s why you can order different “cuts” of a diamond. Algordanza grows both kinds. You can see one of their raw diamonds below.

The company can not actually guarantee what the resulting diamond will look like it will be more white like a naturally formed diamond, or might have a bluish tint to it. The blue colour comes from the presence of the element Boron. Humans have different levels of Boron in their bodies, so the amount of bluish tint depends on the person.

How long carbon is subjected to pressure and heat determines the carat size of the diamond that forms, though there is a limit. In the lab diamond size is limited by the growing cell and the chamber that supplies the heat and pressure, so the largest diamond you can order from Algordanza is one carat.

Ripka said the process for growing diamonds in a lab is common knowledge, but there are very few experts in the field. It takes about four to six months for Algordanza to complete an order from the time the consumer places the order to the time their diamond is delivered.

“It’s a kind of science, but it’s also art,” Ripka said. Contact the company for orders, but beware, the diamond-making process isn’t cheap, though the resulting diamond will be “an everlasting keepsake, remembrance, or heirloom to pass to future generations.”

For UK enquiries please call Managing Director Kevin Foy 08000646683