Today, SevenPonds speaks with Claire McHan, operations manager and support manager for Heart In Diamond, a company that specializes in making diamonds out of loved one’s hair or ashes and converting them into beautiful pieces of jewelry that serve as memorials for those who have died. From her Georgia home, McHan speaks with families about their wishes, suggesting the perfect diamond option based on color, size and cut, and taking into account the loved one’s personality. Her goal is to personalize the grieving process, empowering families to choose how to remember their loved ones and their pets.
Credit: Claire McHan
Marissa Abruzzini: What originally got you interested in your work with Heart In Diamond?
Claire McHan: I came to Heart In Diamond via a very personal journey with a friend that had lost her husband. I witnessed grief in its rawest form, and I followed her through a shift in that grief as she took her own journey through the Heart In Diamond process.
Marissa: What does your work with Heart In Diamond entail?
Claire: A typical day starts out like most others. I check my email to see what overnight inquiries have come in. These are a priority, and I answer them and send the person detailed information about our diamond-making process. I tend not to call unless specifically asked to. This is a very personal journey and I respect a family’s privacy at all times.
I then take care of current customers, ensuring all update reports that are due have been sent out. I take care of our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. I try to keep these posts light and informative. With our pet page, I post pet-related topics as well as amusing and informative videos. I deal with jewelers to discuss client settings, as well as funeral homes and veterinary hospitals. I’m always looking at the news to see if there is a newsworthy story we can support. We like to be as charitable as we can.
Marissa: What do you want your clients to get out of their experience with Heart in Diamond?
Claire: I am confident in saying that our clients get the most caring, thoughtful experience with us. My international colleagues all have their own personal journeys that they’ve been through. As for myself, I’ve gone through this process too , and I really get what is required to be the soft voice at the end of the phone. My goal is to be the person that empathizes, and not sympathizes. As a company we have shared many tears over the years witnessing the varied ways that we have formed our connections with our clients. They will feel secure and respected throughout the whole process, always.
Marissa: Do you have any stories from your clients to share?
Claire: They all stand out, and I still send emails to some of my families to check in on them from time to time. I make a mental note when it is an anniversary or a symbolic date, and I’ll just send a quick email and say, “I have been thinking about you, so I thought I’d just see how you’re doing.”
Two stories that stand out are a young girl who had lost her mother to cancer, and three years after that, her family home burned down. She lost her father, grandmother and two siblings in that fire.
After her father’s death, Claire had a yellow diamond ring made in his honor.
(Credit: Clare McHan)
She and another sibling were taken to the hospital, and sadly, she was the only survivor. I got a call from her godfather to see if we could help with a discount, because this child had nothing — absolutely nothing. We could not think of anything less than a 100 percent discount. How could we take from a child who had nothing? We are all mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. We had to do this for her.
Another poignant story was a brave girl from Texas whose son was stillborn at full-term. She had a mixed reaction to her grief, which prompted her to write a short story entitled “I’m Not Afraid To Talk About It.” She then contacted me, and we started her journey. We are firm friends now, and I’m happy to say she has welcomed another son into the world.
Marissa: Why should someone consider having their loved one’s or a pet’s ashes converted into diamonds?
Claire: First, a diamond is the visual essence of your loved one that you take everywhere with you. Second, having ashes at home is an easy way to keep them with you if you’re part of the immediate family. But if you’re part of the extended family or a friend, you do not have that same home connection.
Also, when you keep ashes in an urn, there’s always the dilemma of who to pass them down to when you die. Who really wants them?
Lastly, when you have a diamond, you don’t feel compelled to visit your loved one’s graveside. If you move elsewhere, you still have that person with you in diamond form, and you do not have the guilt of not being able to visit the grave. You can also include a lock of your own hair in with the ashes, giving you a sense of continued unity.
Join us next week for part two of this two-part conversation with Claire McHan!