Thursday, December 3, 2009

Life Gems

Good news: If you give a company called LifeGem some of the cremated remains of your loved one, they'll make a diamond out of it. Score! Every woman who never gets jewelry from her husband can look forward to eventually having, say, diamond earrings made from her husbands' remains. Husbands shouldn't mind because it'll be a lot easier to haunt her if he's right there on her ears.

And try this on for size. Everyone knows about cryonics (or what most people mistakenly term "cryogenics"), an unproven science by which a person or animal is preserved with the intention of future resuscitation. What if science is over-complicating things? What if you could actually skip the whole rigmarole of freezing Grandpa, and all you really needed was his ashes to get the old geezer up and running again? Wearing him in a piece of jewelry would let you revive him at a moment's notice. Whenever you were feeling nostalgic about his psalm recitations and denture fitting stories, you could simply rub your Grandpa nose piercing, and poof! Like a genie out of a bottle he'd materialize to tell you that you're not God-fearin' enough and your skirt is too short. OK, Grandpa, now get back in there until next year.

You'll pay a premium for a LifeGem (which is kind of a misnomer – it's actually a "DeathGem"). Prices range from $2,200 to $19,000. For that kind of money, the company had better let me come witness the process. I'd want to hand deliver the ashes and watch as a diamond is created from those ashes and those ashes alone. Although who could ever really be sure what they're getting? LifeGem describes the steps of making the jewel as 1) carbon capture in a high-nitrogen, low-oxygen atmosphere, 2) purification by heating to extremely high temperatures to convert the carbon to graphite, 3) creation of the gem in a diamond press, and 4) faceting, laser-etching, inspection, grading, and certification of the diamond.

Doesn't that just conjure up the sight of an enormous Dr. Seuss-looking machine with multicolored knobs and pipes and wing-dongers and hinker-thwackers, where you feed a pile of ash into one end and after about ten minutes of piston burping and slide whistle sounds, out from the other side drops a perky little gem? It would fall right into the hands of a Cindy Lou Who facsimile, who'd hand it over to you with a toothless grin.

I'm sure many will derive much comfort from their cremation carats, but this whole notion just whets my appetite for bigger and better things made out of the deceased. I'm not a jewelry person anyway. What I'm looking for is a company that could make my loved one's ashes into some truly useful stuff. How about, say, a food processor? A nice handbag? A plane ticket to Bermuda?

Oh, how cold of me. I'd do a greater service by reminding you to treat your loved ones right, long before they become a novelty item that you store in a drawer, never to be worn again. Tell them over and over how in your heart, their fully alive presence is far more beautiful than anything else created by humankind or nature, unless after they die you end up ordering the full carat LifeGem Radiant Cut diamond mounted in a platinum tennis bracelet. This way you can be sure to engender the kind of tender feelings that will prevent people like your very own sister from regularly sizing you up regarding just how brilliant your carbon-captured, heat-purified, laser-etched postmortem shine would be.

As usual, though, my skepticism is undercoated with a search for personal gain. I do believe this idea will really take off, so put me down for a bunch of shares of LifeGem stock. Just you wait. It won't be too long before you won't be able to compliment someone's ring without hearing the reply, "Thanks. It's my mother."