The Hightower Report

Be a Jewel; Truly Beautiful Art

Be a Jewel

Let's travel once again out to the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you to a dazzling new world of diamonds. These gems are not dug out of mines, but are man-made diamonds -- literally. Indeed, they are made of men ... and of women, and of your pet pooch or parakeet or whatever.

An Illinois company named LifeGem has developed a process that can convert your dearly departed loved one into a sparkling pinkie ring, a brilliant brooch, or other piece of jewelry. "Diamonds are a girl's best friend," goes the old show tune. Now it's possible that a girl's diamond is indeed her best friend.

Three years ago, LifeGem founder Rusty VandenBiesen came up with the turn-yourself-into-a-diamond idea when he decided he didn't want his remains to become worm food or to end up as an urn of ashes on someone's mantle. Thinking about it, he realized that diamonds are nothing but compressed carbon, and that the bodies of humans and other animals are largely composed of carbon, so -- Eureka! -- we have within us the stuff to become diamonds.

The Chicago Tribune reports that VandenBiesen's process takes the ash from a cremated body, purifies it at 5,400 degrees, then puts it under intense pressure and heat for about 16 weeks. Voilá ... the gems emerge. One human body can produce about 50 stones of various sizes. With prices starting at $4,000 for a one-quarter carat diamond, there are big bucks in even a decrepit body.

With the natural human urge to be remembered and with the advertised notion that "diamonds are forever," this could change both the funeral and the diamond industries. As one dying customer says of his future as a jewel: "This will be something that is beautiful, has value, and comes right from me."

The glories of technology! No matter how dull you are in life, you can be made brilliant for eternity.

Truly Beautiful Art

"Beauty is as beauty does," goes the old adage, and beauty is doing a lot these days for folks in the Seattle area.

On a recent trip to this beautiful and vibrant city, I learned about a work of art that suddenly had appeared in a hard-hit neighborhood that has long been notorious for drug dealing and street crime. On an otherwise stark sidewalk outside of a coffee shop that had recently opened, a delightful and functional sculpture appeared overnight.

Made of heavy metal, stone, and hardwood, this handmade art piece is a square table with four seats artistically linked to it. A metal vase for flowers is bolted to the tabletop, and one of the seats opens up as a storage place for games.

This inviting installation did not come from the city, an art museum, or the coffee shop owners. Rather, it's a work of "guerrilla art" that has been popping up around this city, and it popped up at about 1am one night. A college student living across the street said he was studying in the wee hours of the night when a dozen young men and women arrived on the scene with blowtorches and other tools. They quickly assembled the street furniture, put fresh flowers in the vase, took a group picture, and -- pfffffft -- they were gone.

"It's incredible," said coffee shop owner Teri Esesten, calling the table a "big, sweet kiss" for a neighborhood in need of some love. And neighbors are responding in kind -- they keep the vase filled with flowers and have been gathering around the table even when the coffee shop is closed. "I want to tell them thanks and offer to buy them coffee forever," said an elated Esesten. But part of the artistic expression of the guerrilla movement is its anonymity -- a pleasant contrast to corporate art patrons who insist on getting their names engraved on the wall and getting a tax deduction for any "donation" they make.

It's the ordinary folks doing the extraordinary things that makes America such a beautiful place. I hope you'll feel free to spread a little beauty wherever you are.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To subscribe to his monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, call toll free 866/271-4900. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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diamonds, LifeGem, Rusty VandenBiesen, guerilla art, Seattle, Teri Esesten

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