End of life services, or the death care industry, is one of the few sectors to remain relatively unchanged over the centuries. Traditional options in burial, cremation, and memorial services have endured with slight variances in response to trends, times, and belief systems. Yet in a 21st century where science and technology are more prominent and progressive than ever before, the death care space has begun to evolve as well.
Austin-based startup Eterneva made its mark in 2016 by introducing grief management and support services in tandem with a science-backed way to remain connected with those who have passed on. The brand accepts ashes or hair and returns them to grieving customers in the form of custom-designed diamonds. In this way, those who grieve are able to keep their loved ones with them and to feel connected no matter where they are.
Investors and customers alike have responded positively to this new way of memorializing those they care about. Eterneva closed a 2021 Series A funding round after raising $10 million across several venture capital firms and investors. The competitive round resulted in an investment group composed of Tiger Management, Capstar Ventures, NextCoast Ventures, and Mark Cuban. [JM1]
Eterneva CEO and co-founder Adelle Archer recently shared the company’s plan for the investment, which, as always, focuses on supporting grieving individuals through connection and compassion. Whether faced with the loss of a loved one or a pet, those left behind often turn to local funerary services. Eterneva plans to collaborate with these facilities to offer support, education, and awareness around alternative options that may resonate more deeply with their beliefs or needs.
With cremation services growing in popularity across the U.S., more consumers may take comfort in knowing that they have options when it comes to memorializing their loved one’s ashes. Beyond scattering or keepsake urns, diamonds can foster new ways to grieve, remember, and share the stories of those who have passed on.
Gemstones of all types have been treasured for their rarity, beauty, mystery, and symbolism throughout history. But with the help of modern science, we have a deep understanding of how these special finds, including diamonds, came to be. Diamonds occur naturally when carbon atoms bond in a crystalline structure under high temperatures and high pressure. Carbon is found deep inside the earth’s mantle, but carbon compounds are also in abundance in organic matter such as plants, insects, shells, animals, and humans. With this science, synthetic (or man-made) diamonds have been produced since the 1950s in labs that used carbon-based materials and equipment that simulate the pressure and heat of the earth. Whether natural or synthetic, jewelers then polish, facet, and finish the stones into wearable works of art.
Eterneva’s blend of proven science and cloud-based technology applies these same methods in the most meaningful of ways with the most precious materials. In all, the process can take between seven to nine months to complete. Customers can follow along via email notifications and customer portal updates powered by a personalized customer journey[JM2] .
The recent Series A funding will contribute, in part, to enhancements in the Eterneva customer journey with additional support and engagement. Current systems already confirm when ashes have been received and include updates as the diamonds move from purification, to growth, to cutting and setting. New plans will increase engagement with participation and personalization. Customers will be able to start up the machines that grow and craft their diamonds. And while every Eterneva diamond is already custom designed based on customer specifications, people will have opportunities to share stories about their loved one directly with the master cutter assigned to their account. This way, even more of the special details that matter most are captured in the design.
Consumers across markets are trending toward options that allow for personalization and connection, and the death care industry is no exception. As the market for alternative, personal ways to manage loss and grief expands, Eterneva is poised to expand in response. Funding dollars will also be allocated to grow their Austin facility and optimize operations to meet consumer demand. The company has already produced nearly 1,500 diamonds across over 1,000 customers. While options are available for different diamond sizes, colors, shapes, and settings, Eterneva anticipates expanding products and services to cater to new ways of celebrating the life of a loved one.
The search for connection with those who pass on is nothing new, but the shift of today’s lifestyles has made some traditional methods less consoling. Families and friends are more decentralized than ever before, making visits to gravesites or gathering for funeral services more of a challenge. Recent social distancing guidelines have made these get togethers even more challenging or, in some cases, impossible. Yet grief stops for no one, and an already isolating experience can be made worse with fewer ways to connect and process emotions.
Jewelry that incorporates the deceased is also not a completely novel concept, but the custom has come quite a long way. People have exchanged (and held on to) locks of hair since 16th century Europe. Other tangible ways of remembering loved ones rose in Victorian England as people created both jewelry and woven art from hair.
Synthetic diamonds produced with carbon extracted from ashes continue this sentiment with a high-tech twist. Technicians isolate and test the carbonates that remain after cremation and purify them in preparation for diamond growth. Just as in nature where pure carbon crystalizes under pressure and heat, laboratory machines apply 850,000 PSI at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to create a raw diamond in two to three months’ time. From there, the process is the same as finishing a natural diamond, where master jewelers engrave, polish, cut, and set the finished design. The result is a sentimental keepsake that even the Victorians would admire.
End of life services are an essential part of the human experience deserving of modernization coupled with compassion. Eterneva’s oversubscribed $10 million Series A is an indicator of more than just brand success. It demonstrates a change in the ways that humans are looking to cope with loss as part of their journey. Eterneva’s ongoing commitment to helping people grieve by leveraging science and sympathy together will continue to uplift an industry and the individuals who need support most in the most difficult times.