Ashes to… vinyl records? Death startups get creative as cremations rise

Startups help families turn ashes into new ways to honor their lost ones (vinyl records, plants, stones, diamonds).


July 29, 2021

Where do we go when we die? In some cases, maybe someone’s record collection.

An increase in cremations and a desire for more personalized ways to store ashes is opening a path for startups to succeed in the $16B funeral industry, per Bloomberg.

Cremations are increasingly popular

They are cheaper than burials, and many families have chosen this route as the pandemic postponed original funeral plans.

Cremations accounted for 56% of US deaths in 2020, according to the Cremation Association of North America. The number is projected to rise to 73% by 2030.

Families looking for ways to store ashes…

… that honor their loved ones have found fresh options thanks to startups.

  • Parting Stone has raised $1.9m to turn ashes into stones. A person yields 40-60 smooth stones that vary in color, shape, and texture.
  • Eterneva has raised ~$10m to turn ashes into a diamond that you can wear. Prices start at $3k.
  • British company Vinyly will press ashes into a record, starting at ~$1.4k.
  • Recompose turns human bodies into soil, a more sustainable and cost-friendly solution than traditional funerals.
  • LA-based artist C.C. Boyce makes “Planturns” that hold both the ashes of the deceased and a live plant. They retail for $250-$600.

But how new is all this?

Not at all! “Mourning jewelry” was all the rage in the Victorian era, made with ashes, hair, and teeth. Or… a glass eye.

Related: The Hustle previously reported on the funeral industry monopoly, with 2 companies accounting for 80%+ of casket production.

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