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October 5, 2018

DNA-infused tattoo ink lets your loved ones remain a part of you — literally

by John_A

Given how permanent they are, it’s no surprise that tattoos are pretty darn personal things. Whether it’s the date of your child’s birthday or some other marking which commemorates a significant moment or aspect of your life, tattoos provide a means to carry around a visual reminder about something important to us. They could be about to get a whole lot more personal, however, thanks to a new startup called Everence.

Its mission? To utilize technology developed by Brown and Duke University scientists that makes it possible to have DNA incorporated into tattoo ink. Whether it’s the hair from a beloved pet or the cremated remains of a deceased family member, the resulting DNA-laced tattoos promise “a deeper personal connection that even the most meaningful tattoos could never achieve.”

“A customer orders a collection kit, either a DNA cheek swab or ash and hair container from our website,” Everence co-founder and CEO Patrick Duffy told Digital Trends. “We turn the customer’s DNA, ash, or hair sample into Everence through a patented process, in which it is purified and encapsulated in a medical-grade polymer which protects it from being absorbed or destroyed by the body. We [then] send the Everence, which resembles a fine whitish-silverfish powder, back directly to the customer. They can take their Everence to any tattoo artist in the world, who in turn mixes it with any tattoo ink of their choosing, and applies the tattoo as they normally would.”

The Everence (a combination of the words “forever” and “reverence”) mixture is created from medical-grade materials at the company’s dedicated facility in Quonset, Rhode Island. The process involves upwards of 20 individual steps and uses a variety of specialized mini-mills.

Duffy said that the concept was inspired by Special Operations Gold Stars, dedicated to surviving spouses and children of fallen Special Operations personnel killed in combat. However, customers so far have also included people celebrating the birth of a child, getting engaged or married, or those losing a loved one in some other manner.

The idea isn’t wholly new, of course. There are already companies which will turn ashes into jewelry, for example. Back in 1977, the rock group KISS had their blood mixed in with the ink for the printing of a KISS special edition comic book, with the idea that this marketing stunt would give fans a genuine piece of their musical heroes to own. Everence may well be the first time a similar process has been applied to tattoo ink, though.

Will this latest example of a high-tech tattoo catch on? We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, it’s certainly likely to prove a talking point at parties!

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