When ANU rock expert Matthew Valetich died tragically young at the age of 35 this year, his colleagues did all the usual things mourners do: they gathered and sang his favourite songs. They cried and hugged each other. They even brought rocks which the rock expert might like.
And then they turned him into a diamond - literally. His widow pulled the lever on the high-pressure machine at the university and, lo and behold, a diamond was produced.
The gem was then polished and split in two, one half each for his two twins.
Dr Valetich was a petrologist (a geologist who studies how rocks are formed) at the ANU research school of earth sciences.
He died of natural causes, simply collapsing in what had seemed like good health. After the funeral in March, his fellow petrologist Antony Burnham had a thought.
"One evening after Matt's service I was thinking 'I wonder what his ashes would transform into under a high-pressure experiment, like those he used to do for his PhD?'," Dr Burnham recalled.
"I thought 'I bet Matt would've been interested to try that out'."
"I think Matt would have found it quite funny as well. Black humour was very much his style."
The scientist's wife Louise "Lou" Adena was consulted and she approved - so on the odd memorial went.
First, Dr Burnham welded Dr Valetich's ashes into a platinum capsule and wrapped it in layers of magnesium oxide, graphite, Pyrex glass and table salt.
And then he put pressure on it - a lot of pressure, the kind of pressure found 60 kilometres deep in the earth. He used a "piston cylinder press" at the ANU to replicate that intense pressure.
"They say that good cooking also needs love, so he invited Adena, Valetich's two best friends and former RSES colleagues-including his mentor and PhD supervisor, Professor John Mavrogenes to gather around the press and get this special experiment going," the ANU journal reported.
A big yellow lever was pulled by the gathered friends and wife.
"We left it to cook overnight, squeezing within this confined, heated space. As hoped, the next day I discovered our precious gem in its place," Dr Burnham said.
Once the gem was cooled and polished, he cut it in two and mounted the halves in their platinum casing within rounds of epoxy resin, gifting them to Dr Valetich's widow, Adena.
"It was a pretty sweet moment, opening the box and seeing my Matt immortalised as a 'diamond' encased in platinum," she said.
"It's why we had platinum wedding rings - as a nod to his PhD, which he was so incredibly proud of-and I can see his cheeky smile lighting up the room at the thought that he is now a pretty cool rock."
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