The city of Hong Kong is struggling to house its inhabitants, but also its dead. As burials and cremations become more expensive and complicated, one company has come up with a concept as surprising as it is frightening: turning the dead into diamonds.
Difficult to house the living, but also the dead
In the collective imagination, Hong Kong is just an overcrowded city where concrete reigns supreme. Looking at a map of the former British colony, however, it is easy to realize that the territory is not characterized just by its urban spaces. In face, natural spaces covers more areas than the concrete part. However, the city is spread over a small part of the territory and the population density is very high, around 6,800 people per square kilometer.
For many years, real estate prices have been skyrocketing in Hong Kong. Land speculation as well as mafia trafficking prevent real estate developers from developing projects in the New Territories, that is to say the rural areas of the territory. Thus, many people often have to pay dearly to live in cramped housing bordering on decency.
This city of 8 million inhabitants is therefore struggling to house the living, but also experiences difficulties regarding its dead, the latter numbering around 50,000 per year. Due to the strain on available places, cemeteries are few in number. However, the need is growing. In order to try to compensate for this lack, the company iVeneration launched in 2017 a concept of cemeteries in virtual reality. Even crazier: a company in Hong Kong has been turning the dead into diamonds for over a decade!
A diamond for mourning
As Slate recalls in a September 28, 2020 article, private graves are subject to the same rules as real estate. A family wishing to bury a member must pay around 25,000 euros. Public graves are cheaper, but the law is tough. The graves are opened every six years to exhume the bodies for cremation. Moreover, even when cremation is the first option for these same families, there are still some difficulties. Indeed, the wait is long. It takes about four years to get a place in a columbarium.
After its founding in 2004, the Swiss company Algordanza entered the Hong Kong market very quickly, starting in 2008. As soon as it opened its first office in the city, the company began to offer its concept to residents looking for solutions. Algordanza simply turns the ashes of loved ones into diamonds. About 500 grams of ashes are needed to make the stone after six months of waiting.
This solution can be interpreted as a trivialization, even an industrialization of death. However, in a territory like Hong Kong, this is a solution to get around the problem of available space. In addition, the costs are more affordable. Indeed, Algordanza offers a first price product at less than 5000 dollars. Despite the cultural taboo of death reigning among the population, citizens are increasingly choosing this option. Some even see this jewel as a way to mourn their loved ones in an original and more honorable way.