Video: The ultimate family jewel

By MSNBC Correspondent
updated 4/16/2004 12:21:35 PM ET 2004-04-16T16:21:35

After the death of a loved one, family members face the very personal question of how best to commemorate their beloved kin. Now you can keep your lost relatives with you at all times... literally. As jewelry.

Nancy Ryan is the keeper of the ultimate “family jewel” —one created from the ashes of her parents.   Ryan’s gem is a yellow diamond that looks all-natural, but really is man-made. Or in Ryan’s case, man and woman-made. It’s called a LifeGem, and it’s an actual “carbon” copy of her loved ones .

“[Nancy’s] idea was to take her mom and her dad and combine them and have one life gem made out of both of them,” said Richard Collins, the funeral home director and LifeGem representative who worked with Ryan.

With just eight ounces of cremated remains and a few thousand dollars, anyone can turn deceased loved ones into colorful carats. The first step is the cremation  --  cremated remains contain the carbon needed to produce a synthetic diamond.  These are not the first man-made diamonds,  but the founders of Lifegem say they are the first to create  them from the carbon from human remains. The process is straightforward: The carbon is heated, turned into graphite, and placed into a diamond press, where it is subjected to heat and pressure.  Five months later... Grandma’s a gem!

“I loved my parents tremendously and respected them enormously,” says Ryan. “I feel tremendous comfort in knowing this is the essence of their existence.”

And LifeGems are not just for people.  There’s also Pet Gem. Yes, you can even wear Rover around your neck.

For more information, go to www.LifeGem.com.

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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