Why go to Tiffany's for a wedding band when you have one grown from your own bones? That's what five British couples did this spring, starting with a trip to the hospital for a quick jaw biopsy to retrieve bone cells. The idea - a romantic experiment dubbed biojewelry - is the love child of Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, design researchers at the Royal College of Art, and Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at Kings College London. The trio used a four-step process (below) to coax the cells into skeletal symbols of everlasting devotion. It takes months. In September, the jewelry - plus still photos and a time-lapse video of the process - will go on display at Guy's Hospital in London. After that, the betrothed get the rings for keeps. "I love the idea that it's precious only to us because it is, literally, us," says Harriet Harris, one of the participants. "It's almost worthless to anyone else." You can't say that about platinum.
1. Extract bone chips from jaw. Rinse.
2. Place bone cells in ring-shaped bioactive ceramic scaffold.
3. Feed liquid nutrients and culture in a temperature-controlled bioreactor for six weeks.
4. After coral-like bone forms fully around scaffold, pare down to final ring shape and insert silver liner (for engraving).