We may wish it weren’t true, but it is a fact of life that at some point we are going to face the loss of a loved one or a beloved pet. And because each person is unique, it makes sense to have a variety of ways, some traditional and some that at first glance might seem unusual, to help people navigate the difficult process of grief.
In 2015 Adelle Archer lost her friend, Tracey, to pancreatic cancer. Tracey had not only been a friend, but also a mentor. After receiving a small amount of Tracey’s ashes from her family, Archer was searching for a meaningful way to memorialize her friend’s legacy, and decided she would have the ashes made into a diamond. As she investigated the companies offering to accomplish this, she was disappointed. The companies may have been technically capable of doing what she wanted, but the experience of dealing with them was frequently overly scientific, gloomy and impersonal.
After graduating from McGill University, Archer had pursued an MBA at the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas. She eventually started to work in product marketing for TrendKite. Garrett Ozar had been working in sales and marketing for companies such as Rock Solid, LLC, The American Golf Corporation, and Bigcommerce and was now a Sales Leader at TrendKite. They were both interested in the idea of producing diamonds in a lab. In an interview with Michele Weldon, Archer explained how fate intervened when one of the diamond scientists mentioned off-hand that carbon could be extracted from ashes and used to make a diamond. (Michele Weldon, TaketheLeadWomen, 1/21/19).
Archer and Ozar realized that this information, combined with Archer’s wish to create a diamond to memorialize her friend, provided the foundation for a company that would make memorial diamonds and at the same time provide the kind of support and resources for those navigating the grief process that Archer had not been able to find in the companies she had contacted. They founded Eterneva in 2016 and in late 2017 both quit their jobs to focus on their new company full time. Archer reported to Michele Weldon that in the final quarter of 2017, Eterneva did $280,000 in business, and in 2018 reached seven figures.
The process of growing a diamond from the carbon extracted from ashes is done by combining a tiny, crystallized diamond seed, the purified carbon and a metal growth catalyst. These ingredients are placed in a hydraulic press that exerts over 50,000 atmospheres of pressure and are subjected to over 1,200 degrees Celsius. The process takes eight months or more depending on the color and shape, and produces a 1.25 carat diamond.
Up to the present, Eterneva has been self-funded, but is now expanding and seeking outside funding. It currently uses a carbon purification facility in Pennsylvania and grows its diamonds in Germany, but plans to bring some of those operations in-house in the near future.
During the entire process, Eterneva keeps in close contact with their clients, providing them with regular updates, suggested resources and emotional support as needed. Archer says “…we take them on a journey. Empathy is a strong quality in this space.”