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From Dust to Diamonds

A gold ring with a rectangular red diamond and a black enamel silhouette of hills

Custom made 18kt gold an Eterneva lab grown diamond ring made from exclusive Temple Burn Ashes

As a jeweler, I like cut stones and learning about their origin, history and fabrication process.Due to the issues surrounding mining efforts, their toll on the earth and people, Lab Grown Diamonds has recently hit the jewelry market in popularity. A range of colors are easy to obtain, plus the the various cuts and ct size.


In 2011 Burning Man theme, Rites of Passage, my thoughts turned to wedding and engagement rings and came up with the idea of a huge sculpture called Ring of Fire.

Although the sculpture did not manifest itself onto the Playa, the idea of building the ring hung with me. In 2019, advances in lab grown industry made this idea feasible and for the the Burning Man/Sotheby’s Auction, I completed the last part of the sculpture’s and proof of concept. 

"What if you collected carbon from 15 burns, stored them neatly and tricked science?


Through scientific innovation, a unique lab grown diamond born from the ashes and carbon of Burning Man's Temple and Man Burns we celebrate the intense emotion and spirit in wearable adornment. What if you could look down at your hand with all that energy, fire, passion, and unique community encapsulated in a diamond ring to wear? And once again, I learn from my personal exploration into the What If.”

This project began as a question. What if a sculpture could be more than just temporal art at Burning Man? This diamond ring and full art project began as a question. In 2011 I conceived of a sculpture project called Ring of Fire. A 25 ft steel ring to be placed onto the playa as the giant ring box.


Imagined as a rough CAD outline, ladders on either side. In the side of the diamond facets allowed citizens to place love letters, divorce decrees, custody battle documents, fond memories and more to be burned inside a round faceted mirror polished stainless steel diamond. What if the ephemeral remains could be collected as carbon and spun into five diamond rings to help non-profit art organizations, in a unique collaboration between an event and as jewelry.

I applied to Burning Man for an Honorarium, and was accepted, provisionally- but I had to fund the entire thing, as no money was available. I had support from DPW, and all the logistics that it would take to build on the playa, but no funds.


The vision remained, and the idea that a diamond could be created someday stuck in my mind. I continued to collect carbon from every Temple Burn and Man Burn from 2006 to 2016.

Jeweler Karen Christians collects ash from the Temple at Burning Man

In 2001, Burning Man held a charitable auction to raise funds to stay afloat during the Pandemic.

It was held online at Sotheby's, titled "Boundless Space... The Possibilities of Burning Man" and featured many of Burning Man's greatest artists.
I was accepted to create a version of the ring I'd imagined.

Artists rendering of a gold ring with rectangular red diamond and black outline of hills on a flat top surface

With this diamond ring, I got to finally create a proof-of-concept, creating a lab grown diamond with Eterneva; Carbon from the 2011 Temple of Transition burn was sent to them and spun into a 1 carat, red, emerald cut diamond.


The black silhouette on the right side of the ring is filled with resin inlay from the very same carbon as the diamond, embracing a lovely Easter egg of meaning.


The diamond took 7-10 months to grow. The full process included growing the diamond, wax carving of the ring by artist Kenn Kushner, casting in 18K gold, and setting the diamond and inlay in place.

Jewelry, like big sculpture, can be a collaborative process. My jewelry heroes-- Faberge, Tiffany, Cartier, unknown Thai Goldsmiths, and Cellini, all make stunning jewelry in a collaborative fashion. I'm happy to continue the tradition!

"I love items that have meaning, and are self-referential by capturing a precious moment in time."

You can learn more about the different types of participant-made jewelry found at Burning Man through Karen’s book, “Jewelry of Burning Man” or by watching this interview with the author.

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