Isolate carbon from human ashes to create diamonds
ETERNEVA CUSTOMER: She’s my mother, and the diamond was made from her ashes.
NARRATOR: It’s the story of a radical death care company called Etterneva. With the support of Mark Cuban, Etterneva turns lost loved ones into diamonds.
CUSTOMER: Wow! Welcome home, honey.
ADELLE ARCHER: The way people react when they hear about this is either like, “This is the most amazing and amazing idea I’ve ever heard”, or like, “I don’t know, it’s a little weird. “
NARRATOR: They believe America’s cultural response to loss is shattered, leaving people without rituals to help them heal.
ADELLE: Grieving is an experience we will all have. It is one of the most shared human experiences there is, and yet it is governed by tradition and obligation. It does more harm than good. And so we have to overcome all the obstacles because the cost of our unseen mission is too high.
PRODUCER: There is a slight lag. If I step on you, I apologize. I’m not trying to cut you off. There is just a little discrepancy.
ADELLE: I’m literally fundraising right now, and all VCs do is cut you off, so I’m pretty used to it. It is one of our machines. This one is under pressure. So we are currently actively cultivating a diamond. In these stations …
NARRATOR: Adelle Archer is the co-founder and CEO of Eterneva, and her mission is to transform the way we cry. After completing her MBA, Adelle came up with the idea for Eterneva in 2015 after losing her good friend and mentor, Tracey.
ADELLE: When Tracey passed away, her ashes were shared between the three of us. And she was just like, “Hey, go do something meaningful that you think the two of us would really like.” So we started doing a ton of research. Everything really looked like a trinket and at a cheap, transactional price. And nothing really spoke to me.
NARRATOR: But then Adelle had a conversation with a diamond scientist.
ADELLE: He said to me, “Well, if we can get the carbon out of Tracey’s ashes, I think we could make you grow a diamond.” And I mean, as soon as he said it, I was like, “This is the idea. This is the thing that I’m supposed to be working on.” It was the first diamond we ever made. It’s his black diamond. I wear it everyday.
ETERNEVA STAFF: I am so excited to introduce Peggy to you. We cultivate two beautiful diamonds, one for her daughter Laurie and another for her grandson Alex.
ETERNEVA TEAM: Yes, Peggy!
GARRETT OZAR: Every time you start a business it’s like a huge roller coaster. One of the hard things about starting Eterneva was just that she was so unknown in so many different ways. I mean, what we’re doing is under so much pressure, you know? Essentially, we take care of someone’s most precious possession. And you have this incredibly difficult thing to do which is to grow a diamond from carbon.
ADELLE: At first when we started it was a crazy supply chain to set up. Many of these scientists don’t even exist in the United States. We were looking for scientists internationally. Take a plane to Europe, convince them to have a coffee with me and have to learn to negotiate in completely different corporate cultures. Much of this technology actually came from Russia. So the Russian corporate culture is so different from that of the United States. Honestly, this was sort of my first encounter with a bit of misogyny. My God, I learned a lot. But Lord, stockings can be excruciating. We have had times when our entire supply chain has disappeared. Basically, they were like “Good luck”.
NARRATOR: And then in 2019, Eterneva took a big hiatus. A $ 600,000 deal with Mark Cuban.
ADELLE: Going to Shark Tank, I mean, it was a while. We were the first deathcare company to use Shark Tank. It was really a turning point, too, in the way people started to see it. They’re like, “Oh wow! What if diamonds become the new urn?”
NARRATOR: Etterneva commissioned bereavement research at Baylor University to study the impact of diamonds on the grieving experience of recipients.
CUSTOMER: It’s like John is coming home.
ADELLE: Jean comes home.
NARRATOR: Early reports suggest that Eterneva’s multi-month diamond-making process supports the vast majority of participants throughout their grieving journey.
ADELLE: You know, before we started we thought it was just the diamond, but what we ended up finding was that every time we shared an update with the family, we got these incredible responses.
CUSTOMER: I wanted something that, when I had her diamond and people asked me, “It’s so beautiful, where did you get it?” And I can say, “She’s my daughter. And that’s how she was really beautiful.”
OZAR: Some of the biggest problems we have are things we don’t talk about a lot. Death and grief are part of it. That’s what I think we at Etterneva can make a mark on this planet is by helping to remove that stigma.
And I can tell you that your dad would be so proud of who you are. And for this reason, we would love to grow his diamond for you.
Hi Cecilia, this is Garrett. This is going to be the starting point for creating your beautiful Cali diamond.
ADELLE: We have the Cali diamond. We will classify and certify his diamond.
CUSTOMER: It’s really beautiful. Thank you so much.
ADELLE: A lot of death care has been transactional, hasn’t it? You buy a coffin, you have a funeral, and then it’s over. And that’s not how grief works.
NARRATOR: The death care industry was once funeral homes, burials, and later cremations. In 2021, human composting, biodegradable coffins, space travel. These are just a few of the growing number of alternative options better suited to individual values.
ADELLE: I think what resonates with a lot of people about diamonds is that you have that physical anchor for your loved one.
CUSTOMER: It’s the most precious thing I own.
ADELLE: One of the things I realized is that I really find a lot of purpose in helping someone get through a difficult time and helping them find some light in it. Eterneva’s mission is truly to challenge culture and change people’s perceptions of grief and loss. There is this window of time where they make sense of what just happened. And if you can meet them in this window and can help shape the messages they tell each other, you can go and change the world.