Shine Bright Like A Diamond: Eterneva Co-Founder Honors Loss Brilliantly
“Five years ago I didn’t have any idea I would be doing this incredible work,” says Adelle Archer, co-founder of Eterneva, an Austin, Texas-based memorialization company that creates diamonds from the cremated ashes of loved ones.
But the death of a close friend, Tracey, in 2015 from pancreatic cancer just three months after her diagnosis, left Archer with a longing to connect the new business she was launching with a higher purpose and deeper meaning.
Granddaughter of actress Marjorie Lord, and niece of actress Anne Archer, Adelle Archer graduated in 2012 from McGill University in Canada before heading to Austin, Texas to earn her MBA at the Acton School of Business.
At 23, she launched into a tech career, working in product marketing, first for Big Commerce, later for TrendKite, where she met and became friends with Garret Ozar, who was in sales. Together they were exploring the possibility of a company creating diamonds in a lab from carbon.
But after her friend’s death, she was exploring options of what to do with her friend’s cremated ashes as the custodian. “There weren’t a whole lot of meaningful options,” Asher says.
“Then one of the diamond scientists said you can extract carbon from ashes and create a diamond from it. We started to look at it and felt it was a need. And it was an amazing way to honor Tracey,” Archer says.
From there, she and Ozar co-founded Eterneva, with the “vision and goal to be more than a diamond company and offer multiple options with the latest technologies for celebrating lives well-lived. Ultimately, Eterneva aims to be the premier company for celebrating the legacies of individuals, learning from them and capturing their stories for future generations,” according to the company materials.
At costs that begin at around $2,500, the process “starts with a tiny, crystallized diamond seed, a purified carbon source, and a metal growth catalyst. They place these ingredients between the anvils of our powerful hydraulic press, and apply over 1,200 degrees C of heat and over 50,000 atmospheres of pressure. As the temperature and pressure mount, the metal catalyst melts into a molten solution, and the carbon dissolves into it. With great care and control, they cool the solution, and one by one, the carbon atoms build on top of the crystal diamond seed, growing it into a jewelry-grade diamond,” according to the website.
In late 2017, Archer and Ozar quit their jobs and went full time at Eterneva. The final quarter of 2017, Eterneva did $280,000 in business, and in 2018, “we broke seven figures,”Asher says.
The funeral industry is worth $20 billion in the U.S., she says, with cremation rates increasing. In 1980, 10 percent of individuals were cremated, and in some states now, that number is as high as 75 percent. More than 2 million pets are cremated each year in this country, Archer says. Until now, there were no options other than to keep the ashes in an urn or disperse them.
Now they can create diamonds. The process at Eterneva takes eight months or more, depending on the color and shape, producing a 1.25 carat diamond.
According to the site, the carbon in the ashes is the start of the process. “A versatile element, it is the basic building block to all cells in the human body. Carbon also exists in nature, and under high pressure and temperature, transforms into a rare, pure diamond. By using new incredible technologies, Eterneva can purify your loved one’s ashes until just carbon remains, and grow a stunning diamond structured by their DNA.”
The mortality rate in the U.S. is about three million people per year. By 2025, the National Funeral Directors Association is forecasting that 63.8 percent of the people who die in the United States will be cremated, and by 2035, 78.8 percent.
“When you lost the most remarkable connection in your life, you are hungry to hold that person close to you so they are not forgotten,” says Archer. “Pets, too.”
She adds, “A lot of people feel lonely and that they are not able to continue with memories. By creating these diamonds, we take them on a journey. Empathy is a strong quality in this space.”
The stories of each loved one are remarkable, Archer says. “There is a good story behind every diamond.”
One client honored his late wife who died from breast cancer, by creating pink diamonds from her ashes. “Her husband had pink diamonds made for her family” and he walks in the Komen walks each year in her honor wearing the diamond.
“Eterneva offers an intricate eight-month celebration of life storytelling journey that includes the creation of a diamond from loved ones’ cremated ashes. The goal is to keep their legacies alive both through their stories and the diamond. The diamond itself is personalized–color, cut and setting–and filled with meaning of the memories it symbolizes,” according to the site.
Honored by INC. as one of 30 Under 30 to watch, Archer says she is leading her company on “an aggressive growth path,” having grown more than 250 percent in the first full year.
“The opportunity is there; it comes down to the execution,” Archer says. “There are many facets to it—pun intended.”
In her short time as a founder, Archer says she has learned some key lessons. “I realized confidence is a super power. If you can be confident in yourself, your abilities, your ideas, then that confidence people will absorb and believe in you.”
With that, Archer says, she and her co-founder also celebrate their mistakes. “We celebrate our failures and admit to them immediately. When we see red flags, we act on it.”
Though she did not picture herself so young running a company that is about the loss of life, she is grateful she is running a company that is about the celebration of life.
“What gives me the most pride is I kiss my grandma’s diamond every day. If I die tomorrow, I think I would die happy.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com