It is one of those ‘everybody knows’ facts that all diamonds are the same and you can not tell the difference between one diamond and another. Well this is no longer true. Catherine McManus, the director of research at Materialytics Inc. in Killeen, Texas has announced a special laser technique that can identify the origin of diamonds by country and even by diamond mine.
A pilot study laser probe has successfully identified with 95 percent accuracy the origin of diamonds tested by country. It can do the same with other gem stones and even gold and some ores.
“With enough data, we could identify which country, which mining region, even the individual mine a mineral comes from.” says Catherine McManus, presenting the teams research findings at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting this October (2011).
“This is a fundamentally new tool that could provide a better fingerprint of a material from a particular locality,” said Barbara Dutrow, a mineralogist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was not involved in the research.
McManus and her team have been using laser induced breakdown spectroscopy in which a laser vaporises a tiny piece speck of the material creating plasma. This plasma gives off a light in a particular pattern and wavelengths and these can be used to find out what the material is made off. This is then compared to 200 existing samples obtained from around the world to get a match.
Once available commercially this could aid in detecting conflict diamonds that slip through the Kimberley process system into world markets.