Question #1. How Much Carbon Exists in Cremated Ashes?
There are important issues that must be addressed when answering this question: How much carbon exists in the human body, and at what rate is that carbon lost during the cremation process.
What are diamonds?
Diamonds are pure, crystallized carbon. While they may be in crystal form, they contain the same ingredient as graphite or charcoal: Carbon.
How much carbon in the human body?
Carbon is a main ingredient in the human body, making up approximately 18% of the total weight of the human body. It is this carbon that the cremation diamond companies claim is use to create the memorial diamonds.
At what temperature does carbon burn?
Carbon burns at 1405 degrees F. Anyone who has used charcoal for a cooking fire has seen the process take place as the charcoal burns all the carbon, leaving nothing but ashes with no more carbon to burn. During house fires, it is often seen that gemstones from jewelry can be recovered intact because most gemstones are not damaged at temperatures reached by most house fires. The one exception is diamonds. Since many house fires can reach temperatures more than 1600 degrees F, diamonds in jewelry burn and disappear while other gemstones remain intact. This is, once again, due to the low burn temperature of carbon.
What is the Temperature of a Cremation Furnace?
Cremation furnaces operate in a temperature range of 1600F to 1800F, to insure a complete cremation of all aspects of the human body. The result is a complete burn out of any element with a burn temperature below 1600F, including carbon. To quote one cremation company:
“Although cremated remains are commonly called ashes, in truth they are comprised of pulverized bone fragments. As was previously mentioned, the cremation process destroys all traces of organic, carbon-based matter” CremationSolutions.com
The entire investigation could end here as the cremation process “destroys all traces of carbon-based matter” and leaves no residual carbon with which to create a diamond. There is no carbon left in the cremation ashes to make a diamond, a fact that renders all cremation diamonds as impossible to create.
Further investigation, however, reveals that the cremation diamond companies, such as LifeGem® are aware of this fact.
It must be stressed that the following is taken directly from the United States Patents filed by the owners of LifeGem:
|United States Patent Application
VandenBiesen, Russell P. ; et al.
January 23, 2003
United States Patent Application
VandenBiesen, Russell P. ; et al.
February 19, 2004
These patents contained in these LifeGem owner patents reveal that these companies are aware that the cremation process destroys the available carbon in a human body. In fact, the only methods to obtain enough carbon from the cremation process is a (a) only do a partial cremation or (b) add outside carbon from other sources to the ashes.
The following quotes are taken directly from the patents of LifeGem owners, and demonstrates LifeGem’s awareness that there is not enough carbon in cremated ashes to create a diamond. Quotes from the Patent are in bold.
“…. conventional cremation eliminates most of the native carbon,….” LifeGem
LifeGem admits that the cremation process eliminates carbon. They offer two methods to maintain carbon. The first is partial cremation:
“The preferred process for collection begins with the oven operator positioning the body in the oven so that the head and chest area are not positioned directly underneath the main burner.” LifeGem
LifeGem suggests the body not be totally cremated. They state further:
“Positioning the body in this manner assures that carbon will remain in the body's head area. The carbon can then be gathered by hand, or by using a metal shovel or scoop, or the like.” LifeGem
Further, they blatantly recommend that only certain body parts be cremated:
“Alternatively, one or more body parts may be cremated.” LifeGem
There can be little doubt that LifeGem is aware that the cremation process does not leave enough carbon to create a diamond, otherwise they would not be recommending such drastic measures such as only cremating certain body parts, and/or moving the head from over the furnace and retrieving it afterwards with a shovel.
The other alternative is simple: If there is no carbon, use carbon from outside sources to make the memorial diamond:
“…the remains can be cremated conventionally, mixed with additional carbon from another source, and purified as described above. It is contemplated that, using this technique, a gem containing at least some of the original carbon from the cremated remains can be prepared, even if the amount of carbon present in the remains alone is insufficient to make a gemstone of desired size or type.” LifeGem
IMPORTANT! I believe the above method is how LifeGem operates. After contacting many crematoriums, I did not find a single company willing to do a partial cremation as LifeGem Suggests.
Based on this, LifeGem, and most likely all cremation diamond companies, fully realize that carbon is lost during the cremation process, and that outside carbon must be added to the ashes before any effort to create a diamond could be successful.
The important issue in the above statement from LifeGem is that they “contemplate” or think there “is at least some of the original carbon” is included in the diamond. They think.
Simply stated: LifeGem cannot guarantee that ANY carbon from the deceased loved one’s body is included in their cremation diamonds.
Question #1 Conclusion
There is no question that cremated ashes contain no carbon since the burn temperature of a cremation furnace is far above the burn temperature of carbon. Even the cremation companies admit that all carbon is “eliminated” during the cremation process.
There is also no question that the cremation diamond companies are aware of this fact, as demonstrated by the alternative solutions put forth by LifeGem in their US Patents.
Clearly, this single point brings all cremations diamond companies into question regarding their claims because only two alternatives are available to the cremation diamond companies:
- Only cremate parts of the body and extract carbon from non-cremated parts, or
- Mix outside carbon into the ashes since the ashes contain no carbon from the original body.
Since no crematorium will perform the tasks required for #1, the only alternative possible is #2. The problem is that answer #2 eliminates all the claims by these companies since they cannot guarantee any of the loved one’s carbon is in the cremation or memorial diamond.
The investigation could end here, but we still have more questions. Next is regarding the price of cremation diamonds as compared to other lab created diamonds. Since the diamond companies cannot guarantee any of the loved one’s carbon is in the finished diamond, how do the prices compare to other created diamonds?
End of Part 1. Part 2 coming tomorrow....
Robert James FGA, GG
President, Insurance Institute of Jewelry Appraisal
Texas Department of Insurance Property and Casualty Adjuster License #1300433