06/25/2009 at 03:49 PM EDT
They say a diamond is forever–and now your pet can be too. A company called DNA2Diamonds
is offering to create sparkling gems from a deceased pet's ashes or a lock of its hair. In just 70 days, they can turn what's left of your beloved furball into a red, yellow-green or cognac diamond (you can choose the shape and carat size) and set the stone in a ring, bracelet, earring or pendant.
Here's how it works: First, you submit a DNA sample to the company. Carbon is then extracted from the sample and added to a real diamond seed to be placed in an incubator to "grow." The incubator duplicates the earth's natural diamond-creation process at rapid speed, making a genuine "in the rough" stone that's chemically a diamond but contains your pet's signature DNA. Next, the stone is cut and inspected by the Gemological Institute of America before it is packaged and sent to you.
After doing research, Donna Sullivan decided DNA2Diamonds was the best way to pay tribute to her late rat terrier, Ariel. "When she passed, I just wanted to celebrate a great chapter in my life, and the love and friendships I developed through her," the East Hartford, Conn., resident tells PEOPLE Pets. Sullivan looked at various options on the Internet, and through a friend associated with DNA2Diamonds, spoke to company president Tom Bischoff. "I called him in tears and he didn't make fun of me," she shares. "He's a genuine man who really believes he's given someone a little memento that means something to them."
Though Sullivan considered portraits, paw prints and photos to commemorate her 15-year-old pup, she knew she wanted something more. "I thought this was a unique way to celebrate Ariel, and could be an heirloom for my kids and grandkids, as well," she says. Sullivan ultimately used Ariel's DNA to create two yellow-green diamond earrings, which she cherishes. "My husband spent a good chunk of his salary buying me a ring when we got married, so I wanted to commemorate my dog in a similar way," she explains.
This ice doesn't come cheap, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $18,000 depending on the cut, size and color of stone you choose. Though diamonds can also be made from human DNA, that's not where the largest percentage of DNA2Diamonds's business lies. "These diamonds last forever," company president Bischoff tells PEOPLE Pets. "And we're finding that even in a recession, creating a diamond in memory of a beloved pet continues to be our most popular option."
So sure, the mementos come with a hefty price tag. But having your pet with you forever? Now that's priceless.