Experts challenge claims that memorial diamonds can be made from remains: Internet Scambusters #893
The ability to create gems in a laboratory has led to a surge in companies offering to use cremated ashes to create memorial diamonds.
The firms are adamant it can be and is being done, but jewelry experts say it can't, or at least it hasn't.
If you have this kind of tribute in mind for a loved one, read our report before making your decision.
Let's get started...
'It's a Scam' Dispute Over Cremation Memorial Diamonds
Creating a memorial diamond from the cremated ashes of a loved one sounds like a brilliant idea for a sparkling tribute to their lives.
But stories about alleged scams using the process are starting to emerge, emphasizing the need for caution if this idea has appeal to you.
Diamonds are made of carbon. So are manufactured versions. Technically, the process involves super-heating a small amount of the ashes, in an open heat-resistant container, to more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, until carbon in the ashes transforms to graphite.
This is added to other chemicals and a tiny piece of real diamond known as a seed. They're all heated again and put under massive pressure to create the final crystal, which can then be cut and polished.
The crystalizing process is said to be like the techniques used to make synthetic lab-created diamonds. A half-carat memorial diamond reportedly costs in excess of $5,000.
But some gem experts are not happy about this.
The New York Post fashion and style website PageSix.com recently quoted diamond expert Grant Mobley as saying it's widely held in the jewelry industry that companies offering these services "are nothing more than a scam."
Mobley, who is U.S. Trade Lead at the Diamond Producers Association, alleges: "While these companies may be manufacturing synthetic diamonds that look like natural diamonds, they are not using ashes from your loved ones to do so.
"In fact, the carbon that is left over from cremation is not near enough to produce a synthetic diamond and not in the correct form."
He added that firms would have to add carbon to the process, so they couldn't guarantee that any of a loved one's carbon would be in the memorial diamond.
It's a disputed view. Manufacturers claim they get more than enough carbon to grow the gems. But the naysayers argue that the temperature of normal cremation furnaces is higher than that required to destroy the carbon-bearing substances. The makers claim the opposite -- that furnace temperatures are lower than those that destroy carbon.
The issue fell under the spotlight recently after TV celebrity entrepreneur Mark Cuban announced he was backing a cremation diamond company. He told PageSix: "The technology is backed by rock-solid science."
Lab testing of the remains for the company concerned resulted in a brief statement saying, "Yes, there is carbon here." Although it's a gruesome topic, the lab said it could identify carbon in human hair (which presumably would have to be removed before cremation) and, to a lesser extent, in the ashes.
Joining the fray, Jewelry Adjuster, which describes itself as the insurance industry's leading provider of jewelry related fraud investigation, backs the critics.
Introducing an investigative report into manufacturers generally (not necessarily the one backed by Cuban) the firm declared: "These companies are fraught with deception and fraud. Fake pictures, fake claims of owning diamond-making presses, and perhaps most of all their marketing strategy that plays on people at the most heart-wrenching time of their lives....the loss of a loved one."
They claim on their website (CremationDiamondReport.com) that to date no memorial diamond company has been able to prove that any ash-based carbon was used to make the gems.
The report is based on years of research and investigation.
"Based on our years of experience in the world diamond markets working with companies who truly create diamonds in a laboratory, the claims being made by these 'memorial' diamond companies just seemed too good to be true," the firm explains.
The results of their investigation, their free downloadable Cremation Diamond Fraud Report, "will astonish and disappoint many, while they confirm the suspicions of others," Jewelry Adjuster adds.
The investigation and report were sponsored by the Insurance Institute of Jewelry Appraisal, so there appears no reason to doubt their credentials.
Cuban and the firm he backs, however, remain adamant. It seems that the argument may revolve around the presence of not just carbon (which is being challenged) but also calcium carbonate, which remains after bones have been cremated.
It sounds as if there may need to be further research to be done before the issue is finally settled. In the meantime, if a memorial diamond is something you might consider after losing a loved one, weigh the arguments before making your decision.
Since we have no scientific expertise here on the Scambusters desk, we can't back either claim. But as with most buying decisions, it definitely pays to do your research.
"Before you spend money with any 'memorial' diamond company," the Jewelry Adjuster site advises, "we ask that you review the information from these investigative reports in order to make an informed and well thought out decision."
You might also check out this report from the cremation industry's trade organization: Turning Ashes Into Diamonds - How Much Should You Pay?
Otherwise, you can always treat the memorial diamond as what it is -- a product you have made to remember them by, just like a tombstone or other memorial. However, it would be rather expensive -- up to 10 times the price of a same-size real diamond.
Alert of the Week
Did you get a message on Instagram from a lucky guy who won $80 million on a lottery? Out of the goodness of his heart, he wants to share it with you and 999 other people at $30,000 a pop.
Your share is supposed to be delivered by FedEx who, by the way (says the "winner"), need $150 to bring it to your front door. Likely that's just the start of payment demands.
If that sounds a bit like a Nigerian prince scam, you wouldn't be far from the truth. And if you don't cooperate, this lucky winner starts to threaten you, apparently with some form of blackmail.
You know the rest. If you don't, it'll cost you at least $150 that you'll never see again. Ignore the lure.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!