Special Report: Real gem
When Pat Ferreira's husband died, she decided to keep his memory shining bright with a shiny new diamond ring.
"You have your wedding bands, and you have your memories... but you don't have a piece of them," Ferreira said.
So, she turned her husband's death into a diamond. Her yellow diamond was actually made from her husband's remains. It's called a LifeGem.
"This is a part of their loved one that they can keep close, and because the LifeGem is a diamond, it's very beautiful," said Dean VandenBiesen, of LifeGem.
VandenBiesen says using a high tech heating process, they can change the deceased into a precious stone. Here's how it works: the person is creamated and carbon is extracted from the ashes.
"High pressure and high temperature cause the carbon to crystalize into a rough diamond," VandenBiesen said. "The rough diamond is then polished and faceted to the finish size and cut that the clients ordered."
Mourners can choose from clear, yellow, green, red or blue diamonds. But the choice does not come cheap. A quarter-carat blue LifeGem costs about $2,500. A one carat yellow one runs about $15,000.
But not everyone feels comfortable with turning someone's remains into a rock.
"I think its somewhat morbid, really."
"I think its wrong and totally disgusting to have the remains of someone on your hand."
"It doesnt seem very respectful of that person's memory to turn them into a diamond."
So how do LifeGems compare to diamonds like these? Well if you take a close look through, experts say the LifeGem looks exactly like an actual diamond.
Pat finds so much comfort in her special diamond that she's also used her husband's remains to make a blue diamond pendant for their daughter.
"I wanted her to have something from her dad," Ferreira said.
And the technology isn't just for people who have passed. LifeGem turns many dogs into diamonds, along with cats and other family pets. And the company says it can now even make diamonds from the living by using a lock of hair. All ways to create what that some cherish as a real gem.
(Copyright 2007 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)