A company's claim that it can determine a diamond's country of origin with "95 percent accuracy" has raised both interest and skepticism, prompting some to speculate whether blood diamonds will one day be identifiable.
Nelson Winkless, a spokesman for Materialytics—a Killeen, Texas, firm that specializes in the origin of materials—says his company uses lasers to determine the chemical composition of a mineral, which is then matched against a database of that object's properties.
"If we have enough samples, you can tell what mine the stone came from," he says. "To my surprise, nature seems to be pretty consistent." And the technology may have an added benefit: determining if a stone is manmade or HPHT-treated.
Gemological Institute of America scientists, however, remain skeptical.
"The capability of using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy [LIBS] to tell country of origin of diamonds, no matter rough or polished, is very questionable," Wuyi Wang, GIA director of research and development, tells JCK.
Winkless admits Materialytics is at the first stages of its diamond-related research and holds samples from only about 15 mines. He also says that the company is not sure if it plans to market the technology: "This isn't easy, but it can be done. We don't have a business model. We are not actively seeking work in the gem business. It depends on the level of the interest. It would have to be an awful high level of interest."
It's You Again
Denis Hayoun/Diode SA
Made by Graff…and later bought by Graff for just under $4 million
Auction spotters saw a familiar buyer for the "Important Diamond Ring, by Graff" at Christie's Nov. 16 Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva: Laurence Graff. The British diamond dealer paid $3.99 million for an oval D-color internally flawless 24.30 ct. diamond ring he previously owned. Christie's Asia president François Curiel tells JCK the sale wasn't surprising. "Laurence always goes for the best diamonds in auctions, whether sold by him before or not," he says. "Important-size oval D-flawless diamonds are very difficult to get, and this was a beautiful, extremely well-made model."
“We are mostly selling diamond basics. People are looking for diamond studs or an upgraded tennis bracelet. They don’t want that fancy diamond necklace. They want that diamond on a chain.”
—John Ballew, owner, Ballew Jewelers, Freehold, N.J.