What happens to a loved one when they pass on from this life? One successful grief wellness and tech startup is addressing that question by helping loved ones keep their lost ones close. Eterneva uses the ashes from human or pet remains to create meaningful memorial diamonds.
Co-Founder and CEO Adelle Archer wanted a way to remember her mentor’s premature passing from cancer. Since she was in the process of building a lab diamond company, she realized the easy fit. Ashes can be used in the memorial diamond creation process to create a lab gem that is truly made out of the remains. The customer can choose the cut, color, and setting of the gem to customize their final result for something they can keep close for a long time to come.
Archer has been featured in the 30 under 30 lists from Forbes and Inc. Her work has helped thousands of people cope with loss and heal in their grief journey. When she was featured on the TV show Shark Tank, billionaire Mark Cuban saw the unique value and chose to invest in Eterneva.
Eterneva is committed to celebrating their loved ones by continuing to share their story after the diamond journey has completed. In a recent interview, Eterneva met with one customer, Nick, about the creation of his diamond and what that meant to him.
Who is your beautiful diamond made from?
My beautiful memorial diamond is made from the ashes of Serena, my cat of just about 11 years.
She kind of was a little bit of a hodgepodge, but domestic long hair would I guess be the proper definition for her type. She had long gray and white fur.
What was Serena’s personality like?
Serena was a little random; a little hot and cold. But, I definitely would say she was quite a bit of a diva.
She did not like to be inconvenienced whatsoever, so she was very particular about the people she would want to be around or who she would want to sit with or even pet her. So you had to earn her trust and respect. It was like this mother figure judging everyone, like, ‘Oh no, we don’t like them yet, step away, don’t get too attached.’
She definitely got along with my now fiancé of about five years. She got along okay with her siblings. She got along with family and people I’ve dated prior. But she just hated my best friend growing up for no apparent reason.
But, to me, she was nothing but loving and affectionate. She was definitely a little crass at times, but so am I. So, a perfect mix.
What was Serena’s favorite thing to do?
She had a big thing for sitting in shoeboxes. She would basically sit in the shoebox so long that it would just kind of deteriorate to the point where I would feel guilty and have to buy a new pair of shoes just so she would look comfortable sitting in them.
She also loved just sitting in the window and watching me. She would wait for me to come home in the window. She would see my car, and I’d see her in the window pulling up. And by the time I would open up the door, I would see her halfway pouncing down the stairs to greet me at the door. It’s super strange, but kind of super cute too.
What do you have the most pictures of Serena doing?
She was very much a lap cat with me. She sat with me wherever I went. She slept with me every single night. So, a lot of photos I have are of her sleeping on me or near me.
I’ve never really had a cat that sleeps with you—one that has the attitude of, ‘oh, you’re sitting down on the couch? I’m going to jump and sit on you and just give you love.’ I loved that about her.
What’s your favorite memory that you have of Serena?
I don’t want to be cliche, but my ultimate favorite memory is our experience together. I rescued her and her siblings from this abandoned garage next door to me when I was just starting off in college.
I had only been in school for a few days at the time, but I didn’t really have a lot of family support at the time. I felt like she needed me as much as I needed her, so we really bonded.
She slept in bed with me every single night. She would come to me exactly when I would be feeling my lowest. It had such a nice, calming effect.
If I had to pick one moment, it’s probably something when she was still a kitten. I could only keep one of the five kittens, and she definitely bonded with me.
This was back in 2008, and we decided to take the kittens to the park. But, Serena would just hang around, like she didn’t want to go running off anywhere. She just was taking a nap on the bench by me and people were walking by. You could hear people saying, ‘Do they have a kitten at the park?’ It’s something I’ll probably never forget, just because it was just so outlandish.
Did you ever do anything crazy, like take her on a walk or something? Like was she leash trained?
Yeah, I got this cat leash and thought it would be a great idea. It was not.
She did not want to walk anywhere. At the time, I thought, ‘Oh, we’ll just walk to the vet.’ No. That was a terrible idea.
So, we had to drive. The moment I opened up the car door at the vet, she decided to just run underneath the car with the leash, which was super awkward. Lesson learned. I will never try a cat leash again.
What do you miss the most about Serena?
The companionship and that unconditional love.
Every day for almost 11 years, having an individual near you creates a serious bond. I know even when I go to bed, she’s going to be there. She passed away so suddenly—it was completely unexpected.
For the first several months, it was quite hard to try to go to bed without having her there. It gets easier, but there are still moments that start to become a negative spiral. I have to remember all the positive things, especially from the entire Eterneva team. They have been just so amazing throughout every single step of the process.
Do you have any advice to give after this experience?
It’s not easy when you lose a pet, a loved one, or a friend. It’s not easy.
No one can tell you exactly how to handle grief. It takes one day at a time and a lot of self-discovery.
There will be dark times. There will be happy times. Ultimately, happiness does return.
I’m not getting anything for this interview, I promise. But the team at Eterneva really helped me through every single step of the grief process. I even received a video box that presented her story, and she was inducted into the photo Hall of Fame with other pets.
I’m so glad that I did this. This was the best thing I could do to ever think to keep her memory going on forever.
On the first introductory call, I was just blown away by how amazing the team was. They were so concerned about my well-being. It wasn’t about a sales pitch or making a deal at all. The team was all about keeping it people-first throughout the process. It was really awesome.
That’s what I love about Eterneva; we get to be there and hear Serena’s story through your eyes. What made you decide to turn Serena into a memorial diamond?
At first, I was joking with friends, ‘oh, when Serena passes, I’m going to have to turn her into jewelry or something, like I’ll always need her around.’
I never knew this was even a real option. I did know that I would definitely want to find a way to have her with me. And not like a dusty urn on the dresser that eventually gets tucked inside the dresser.
I wanted to be able to honor her in a way that I know was directly connected to her outside of pictures. So, this whole entire process was fascinating to learn about. The fact that she went jet-setting around all over the place throughout the entire process, was just something I knew was right as soon as I heard it was possible.
I was really amazed and honored that I was actually able to find a place that does do that for animals.
You chose to make Serena into a ring, right?
Yes. I wanted to be able to wear her on my finger at all times so she would stay close.
Is there any significance to the color or shape of the diamond?
When I was thinking of colors, there were so many options. Do I want to have a memorial diamond that showcases her really, really deep emerald eyes? Maybe something grey like her fur color? But, I decided to go with something less literal that represents her overall.
I am a little bit of a nerd. Serena was named after the Sailor Moon anime from the early 90s—really big in Japan. Essentially, Serena from Sailor Moon gets powers from this millennium silver crystal, which is essentially like a white diamond.
So, I got the white diamond and the round cut to represent the way Moon got her powers. It was the way that I will now get my powers from Serena by having her connected right here on me and never far away.
How did your fiancé, family, or co-workers react to your diamond?
Some were surprised. Fascinated, really.
So many people never knew that they could really do much with the ashes. Normally, after losing a relative or a pet, people get the ashes, and they kind of just disconnect from it. They don’t get to experience such a meaningful process to memorialize someone in a way that is forever.
A diamond is forever, especially a memorial diamond. My fiance definitely got a little intimidated, because this came right before the engagement ring came. And, of course, Serena ended up being bigger than the engagement ring, which is perfect. But, it was all in good fun and good love.
Do you have any other plans for anything you want to do with Serena’s memorial diamond? Or will it stay in the ring?
The ring definitely is a good place to start. I could see myself making the ring a little bit more ornate, a little bit more “bougie” to really kick it up a notch for her.
But, I definitely love what I was able to come up with. I loved the overall options and design that the team at Eterneva was able to provide me.
I don’t know about jewelry. I knew I wanted to make it into a ring and I like silver metal. The memorial diamond is between 0.3 and 0.37 carats. They sent me all the different options for settings. Even before placing the final order, they sent me a resin of the ring composite for me to put on to really get an idea of how it would feel.
I felt so connected with the design process and I was being actively engaged in every decision. And, this whole process was right in the middle of last year when COVID was at its peak and everything was in lockdown. But, even so, I had the Eterneva people reaching out to discuss the next steps without skipping a beat.
What did Serena teach you about life?
Serena definitely taught me that there is a good life to live out there and to never miss taking advantage of the situation. You never know how long you have on this rock, and you really want to make the most of your time with your loved ones—you can’t just assume you have more time.
I thought I would have Serena for 15 to 20 years. I was surprised that it ended up being significantly less than that. It really brought me to terms that there will be an end.
This was my first major death experience, and it was hard. But each day got a little bit better.
Having to go through the grief process is how you grow as an individual. It puts a lot of things into perspective. I can’t thank her enough for what she’s taught me.
But I will yell at her one day when we are reunited. I’ll be like, ‘Girl, what did you do?!’
How do you think Serena would want to be remembered by you or by anyone?
I think Serena would like to be remembered as being my pet soulmate.
I’ve never been fond of the word soulmate. I don’t use it, except for with her. I felt something with her for the entire time we were together. And when I’m feeling low or just finished a very exhausting day of work, I get a weird feeling—that feeling of positivity that I really didn’t have after she was gone.
I feel like she’s here with me again.