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Cremation Keepsakes Beyond an Urn

The growth of cremation comes with a variety of options for cremation keepsakes using cremated remains—those granular particles left following the cremation process. Is it weird to use cremated remains in something you wear, like cremation jewelry, or in a piece of art? For some people, yes. But weird is in the eye of the beholder, and if wearing a bracelet with a loved one’s remains inside feels right, we don’t want to tell you it’s wrong.

Memorializing a loved one’s cremated remains is not a new concept. Mourning rings were very popular beginning in the 14th century and up to the early 1900s. The rings themselves did not contain remains, but sometimes head hair from the deceased was incorporated into the ring.

Vangie Collins, of Nashua, New Hampshire, designs unique glass beads with a tiny bit of cremated remains. Her customers choose the color, shape and special features of the beads, which can be placed into a variety of cremation jewelry types.

Painting with remains

Dee Wallace is an acclaimed actor who starred in “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial”, “The Howling, “Cujo”, and many others. Her husband, actor Christopher Stone, died in 1995, and until recently, his remains stayed in a closet in her home. Artist Tay Ghazi incorporated some of Christopher’s remains into two paintings called Spirit Art, one for Dee and one for her daughter, Gabrielle.

“It’s hanging up and every day I look at it and say, ‘Hi, Chris.’  It’s a happier, lighter association for me, looking at a piece of art,” Dee said. “I love the idea of being able to carry a piece of someone with you or celebrate them.”

Dee prefers this option to a traditional cremation receptacle.

“The thought of me, who’s claustrophobic, living in a box the rest of my life—I can’t even go there! I’ve done too many horror films for that,” she said.

Other options for cremation keepsakes include:

  • Placing remains in a fireworks display: Companies such as Heavens Above Fireworks incorporate the remains into fireworks to send your loved one out in a spectacular burst of pyrotechnics.
  • Forming remains into diamonds: Scientists use carbon from the cremated remains to make actual diamonds of varying sizes and shades. The larger ones are more expensive.
  • Incorporating remains into tattoo ink: Some debate the safety tattooing with remains. One manufacturer of tattoo ink with remains, Engrave Ink, says they use a filtering process and heat the remains in a medically-sterile environment. “Mechanical agitation is then used to combine the extracted carbon pigment with our premium ink. The four-week process is given a unique number and tracked all the way through, each phase accompanied with thorough safety and control activities,” the company reports on its website.
  • Blending remains into a coral reef: Company Eternal Reefs places remains into an environmentally safe cement mixture to create artificial reef formations.
  • Using remains to grow a memorial tree: Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn designed to convert you into a tree after your passing. The urn contains remains, soil and a seed that grow into eight different species of trees.
  • Making bullets from remains: Holy Smoke uses remains as part of live ammunition, and the caliber and gauge can be specified to best reflect your loved one.

We can’t decide the best option for a cremation keepsake for your loved ones remains, but as cremation grows, we will share the growing list of options.

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