Important things to know...
It wasn't until 2008 that colorless diamonds could be created from ashes. Prior to that, ashes could only be turned into fancy colored diamonds. It's interesting that the easiest diamonds for mother nature to make, colorless, are the most difficult diamonds to create from ashes. And consequently, the easiest diamonds to create from ashes, fancy yellow and fancy blue, are rarely ever found in nature.
Most people only know diamonds as colorless. They don't even know that fancy colored diamonds exist in nature much less created from ashes. You also might not know that "fancy" is the term jewelers use when a diamond is a bright enough color that it won't fit in the "colorless" category. This is good news for a jeweler, because a fancy colored diamond, typically fancy yellow, generates a much higher price tag than just your common colorless diamond.
So, a diamond is either in the colorless family or the fancy colored family right? No, there was an in between that wasn't so pretty.
The Early Days to the WOW Days
Fancy Yellow Diamond from Ashes
Fancy yellow diamonds as we know them today.
Back then, they were categorized as Cognac, but really they were pretty much, um, brown. Not really how people wanted to memorialize their loved ones.
Cognac, um Brown
Cognac, a.k.a. brown
With a lot of research, time, and energy, they figured out how to limit the amount of nitrogen allowed in the production process and the fancy yellow diamond was "born". (See the picture above)
As luck would have it, that is if you consider hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in research to be luck, these changes paid off in more than just a huge leap forward in color. The overall quality and clarity of the diamonds created from ashes took a giant step forward as well. See all the flaws in the brownish diamond, well notice how they are no longer in the fancy yellow diamond.
Now, I don't want to blame the whole thing on poor ol' Nitrogen, growth time was a culprit as well. The typical time it takes now to turn ashes into a beautiful diamond is six to nine months. I stress beautiful, because the process can be spead up considerably, but the quality will suffer.
The short answer is yes, the whole process can be completed in significantly less time, around two months, but major sacrifices must be made along the way. Is that what you really want? I mean, we're talking about a heirloom that is going to be in the family from this moment until the end of time. Hey, no matter what it doesn't take a billion years.
Other available colors for diamonds created from ashes (photos courtesy LifeGem)