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Oh this? It's my ring with my dead cat in it

December 05, 2012|By Zara Husaini @zarhus

The world is composed of two kinds of people: those who want to be placed in the ground after death and those who want their lifeless bodies to go up in flames.

And then there are the people like Rusty VandenBiesen.

Rusty never felt at peace with either of those options, according to his brother, Dean.  He began exploring other options until he struck gold.  

The brothers came up with the idea of – prepare yourself for this - using remains of the deceased in jewelry.  “He realized that carbon is one the main parts of the body,” Dean said.  They extract that carbon from the cremated body and use it to created a jewel. 

The pieces are sold at the Elk Grove jewelry store appropriately named “Life Gem” (maybe it should have been called DeathGem? No? Too soon?)

The entire process takes place in the store and occurs over a 6 to 9 month period.  Prices vary and according to VandenBiesen, about 80 percent of their customers opt to have deceased humans memorialized in jewels – the rest prefer to immortalize their pets. 

Not everyone has heard of this service, but that isn’t to say it’s gone unnoticed.  Dean VandenBiesen, the store’s vice president, said they get orders from all around the world.  There are LifeGem locations in Tokyo, England and the Netherlands as well. 

Of course, not everyone agrees with the VandenBiesens’ practice.  They do receive emails from naysayers, and some funeral homes have refused to cooperate with them.  Still, VandenBiesen said sentiments are generally positive.  “It’s not for every but the people who do it, they love it,” he said.

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