Montrealer's company turns ashes of the dead into diamonds

A former Montrealer and McGill graduate founded a company that turns human and pet remains into lab-grown cremation diamonds.

Eterneva extracts carbon after cremation to make precious memorial stones

The company grows raw diamonds out of carbon extracted from remains and cuts them down. (Eterneva)

If you ask Adelle Archer what she does for a living, there might be a brief pause before she answers.

The former Montrealer and McGill graduate founded a company that turns human and pet remains into lab-grown "cremation diamonds."

The company, called Eterneva, is based in Texas and has been operating for a little more than a year.

While Archer admits it can sound a little macabre, most her clients would say otherwise.

"It's pretty amazing seeing the meaning that they pour into their diamond," she said. "It can be very therapeutic."

Adelle Archer is a McGill political science graduate and founder of a company called Eterneva. (Eterneva)

Her company takes a half cup of ashes following cremation, and extracts the carbon from it. They then send the carbon to a partner lab in Amsterdam who built a specialized machine that recreates the conditions in which diamonds form in nature.

"It's a high pressure, high temperature [machine] that over time grows a raw diamond," said Archer.

According to Eterneva's website, the carbon is placed in a hydraulic press with "crystallized diamond seed ... and a metal growth catalyst."

They apply over 1,200 C of heat and over 50,000 pounds of pressure.

The process takes about eight months and costs between $3,000 and $15,000 US.

Once the raw diamond is complete, it's cut down and can be set in a ring or other form of jewellery.

Ashes to ashes, dust to diamonds

Archer says that while the cost is high, it can be cheaper than the average cost of a funeral, which is around $8,000.

"Lots of customers are planning on handing this down to future generations," she added.

Carbon is extracted from the ashes and used to grow raw diamonds in a lab. (Eterneva)

As to how she got into this line of work, Archer told CBC's Homerun that she always had an "entrepreneurial gene."

There was also a personal reason as well.

When Archer lost a close friend and mentor to cancer in 2015, she wasn't impressed that there were few memorial options available beyond the standard urns and caskets.

She did some research and after completing her MBA, decided to go into business. "Effectively I was our first customer," she said.

Archer had her friend's ashes turned into a diamond and set it as a ring.

"I feel like it just catches my eye on a daily basis and reminds me of her presence with me," she said. "And if I'm going through a tough time, I kind of feel like I know how she would guide me through it."

The diamonds can vary according to desired size and colour once grown. (Eterneva)

With files from CBC's Homerun