Eterneva Utilizes The Latest Technology To Change The Way We Think About The Death Care Industry
Millennials tend to have a different perspective on just about everything involved in life and death. A new death care company called Eterneva is uniquely poised to appeal to millennials and even younger generations — by creating memorial diamonds from the carbon contained in a loved one’s cremated ashes.
Eterneva co-founder Adelle Archer and her business partner were in the process of founding a company in the synthetic diamond space a few years ago. That’s when she learned some devastating news: Her mentor and longtime friend in Austin, TX had been diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 pancreatic cancer at the age of 47.
Archer found the traditional methods of memorializing loved ones just didn’t seem to do justice to the life of her mentor. A simple urn to hold the ashes of a person who had impacted so many other lives seemed lacking to her. And that’s when it dawned on Archer and her business partner, Garrett Ozar, that they were already working on the solution to this problem. The carbon in the ashes of Archer’s mentor was fashioned into a black diamond to memorialize her — and the idea behind Eterneva was born.
As many of us learned in elementary school, natural diamonds are formed within the crust of the earth over millions of years. Carbon is placed under intense heat and pressure for an incredibly long time until eventually it transforms into a diamond and is pulled from the earth in a mine located in a remote part of the world. They’re extremely rare, valuable, and as the old saying goes, “diamonds are forever.”
Synthetic or lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are created from the carbon in a controlled laboratory setting. Carbon is placed in conditions that mimic the natural formation of a diamond — but under a rapidly accelerated time frame. Once a lab-grown diamond is created, it can be cut and fashioned in the same manner as a natural diamond. And for all intents and purposes (and chemical composition), synthetic diamonds and natural ones are identical in every way.
Memorial diamonds like the ones created by Eterneva have several advantages over mined diamonds. For the one thing, the supply chain is much shorter, which makes memorial diamonds more affordable (starting at $2,999 at Eterneva). While “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” are extremely rare these days, people who purchase synthetic diamonds can know with 100 percent certainty that a memorial diamond is a conflict-free and ethical product. Also, memorial diamonds are much more environmentally friendly than diamonds that are mined from the ground.
Playing to their millennial marketing strengths, Archer and Ozar landed a coveted appearance on “Shark Tank” in 2019. They presented the beauty of memorial diamonds through carbon from the cremated remains of Archer’s grandmother that had been fashioned into a yellow diamond necklace. They also presented the black diamond ring that had been created from the remains of Archer’s mentor.
Investor Mark Cuban was smitten with the idea behind Eterneva and bought a 9 percent stake in the company for an initial investment of $600,000. Following that exposure to a national audience, three rounds of seed funding for Eterneva secured an additional $4.2 million in financial backing.
Eterneva has now entered into partnerships with 17 funeral homes across the country to offer their memorial diamonds to grieving relatives. So, how does the process work?
Funeral homes offer the Eterneva experience along with traditional burial or cremation services. If families want to learn more, they receive a welcome kit that explains the memorial diamond process in full detail. If they choose to have a memorial diamond fashioned, they place a half-cup of ashes or a strand of a few hairs in a specialty package for mailing. (Or a tuft of fur from a beloved pet. Yes, they do pets, too.) It’s important to note that this is not an all-or-nothing process with the loved one’s remains; most of their ashes will remain in an urn since the synthetic process doesn’t require a large number of ashes.
The ethical chain-of-custody of the remains is backed by an exclusive contract that Eterneva has with FedEx right now. The remains are then shipped to Eterneva’s headquarters in Austin.
One of the things about this process that specifically appeals to millennials is what Archer calls a “death journey.” Loved ones of the deceased receive video and photo updates of the process of creating the memorial diamond, which takes from seven to nine months.
The carbon is extracted from the remains to create a diamond seed, which is encased in pure carbon. Using a High Temperature-High Pressure (HTHP) process, the synthetic memorial diamond is then created. The growth process can also include colorization, and the finished memorial diamond is then set into a ring, necklace, or another piece of jewelry if desired.
Millennials are finding the direct-to-consumer model that Eterneva has brought to the death care industry preferable to the more traditional methods of memorializing a loved one. The process of the death journey concludes with a “homecoming,” in which the finished product is delivered back to the family.
Eterneva has served approximately 700 families to date and has expanded to 30 employees since its appearance on “Shark Tank.” Archer says the breakdown of customers so far is around 60 percent humans and 40 percent pets.
Mark Cuban agrees that the death care industry has grown “stale,” with little innovation in recent decades to try to appeal to the unique interests of younger generations. From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many millennials are suddenly experiencing the death of a loved one for the first time. Eterneva’s brand and process seem to be on the verge of transforming the death care industry for the better with regards to younger generations. It’s the first memorial diamond company that markets its product (and service) directly on TikTok, where millennials are much more likely to become aware of the company.