Even so, the announcement from Materialytics, a Killeen, Texas, company that specializes in the origin of materials, has raised considerable interest, with a UPI report speculating it could help determine if a gem is a so-called “blood diamond.”
According to company spokesman Nelson Winkless, Materialytics’ method 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.”
Winkless says the technology should also be able to determine if a stone is man-made or HPHT-treated.
However, Gemological Institute of America scientists 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 that Materialytics is only at the first stages of its diamond-related research, with samples from only about 15 mines, and emphasizes that the company is not sure if it plans to market this technology.
“I am here to say this isn’t easy, but it can be done,” Winkless says. “We don’t have a business model for this. 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.”