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A love to last forever, and a diamond to prove it

Harold, left, and Marcella Sumner of Boyd, in western Minnesota, celebrated 65 years of marriage in November. To make it special after all these years, Harold gave Marcella the diamond necklace she is wearing. The diamond was created from their own DNA using locks of their hair. (Submitted photo)

When you’ve been married for 65 years, you’ve gone through your share of anniversary gifts. There are the flowers, the chocolates and, for bigger anniversaries, the parties or vacations.

By the time you reach 65 years together, it can take a little creative thinking to come up with the perfect gift.

For Harold Sumner, the solution was two-fold: Give his wife, Marcella, the priceless gift of a diamond. Then, make that diamond even more special by using their DNA to create it. He decided to use locks of their hair.

“I usually just give her flowers,” said Harold Sumner, of Boyd. “I wanted to give her something different for our 65th anniversary. This diamond was something I could give her that I’ve never been able to do before.”

The idea came from his grandson-in-law, Scott Shaffer, who owns Infinity Diamond in Maple Grove. Shaffer specializes in making diamonds from any sort of organic material — including hair — by breaking it into carbon and then compressing the carbon powder into a diamond.

The end result is a real, GIA certified diamond that also doubles as a family keepsake.

“It’s the ideaof having something so interconnected and so permanent that appeals to people,” Shaffer said. “You’re physically taking them and bonding them together in the crystalline form of diamond. Harold and Marcella have spent all these years together, and now they’ve solidified their love in a diamond. This is an heirloom that they can pass down to their children when they’re gone.”

Shaffer partners with a laboratory in Russia that has the equipment to isolate personal carbon. The whole process of creating the diamond takes about three months. Shaffer can make diamonds from virtually any material: hair, ashes, fur, fabrics, grass, flowers — even fingernail clippings or ear wax.

Harold Sumner opted for the safer route, choosing to make his wife’s diamond from hair, because he already had a haircut scheduled and she had been saving her hair “just in case” someone in the family wanted to make this diamond.

From their hair, Harold decided to create a 1/3 carat amber-colored diamond, set in a 10 karat gold heart pendant. It arrived on the day of their anniversary, Nov. 2, and he gave it to her at a party that night. He proudly put it around her neck as their family — which includes five children, 18 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren — looked on.

“I was in shock. It’s probably the best anniversary gift I’ve ever gotten,” Marcella Sumner said. “I was very surprised.”

For years, especially while raising their family, Harold and Marcella chose to forego gifts on their anniversary, instead celebrating with a dinner or just by acknowledging it to each other. It means a lot to both of them to have this rare, one-of-a-kind diamond that symbolizes their life together.

“We couldn’t always afford much and didn’t spend any extra on ourselves. We’ve never done big presents,” Marcella Sumner said. “I’m really happy to have this diamond. It’s more meaningful to me because it’s made from us. I wear it every day.”

The couple also realizes how special it is to have a 65th wedding anniversary – and they know they didn’t get there by being lucky.

“It takes cooperation,” Harold Sumner said. “And some give-and-take.”

“A lot of give-and-take,” Marcella Sumner added with a knowing look to her husband. “It’s hard work. A lot of people don’t make it to 65 years. We’re just very lucky to have each other.”

Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

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