Diamonds are regarded as one of the most precious of gems in the world. A girl’s best friend. Diamonds are forever. A token of love.
However, in recent times there has been a darker side to these precious, meaning many people are turning away from buying their loved ones diamonds.
Some stones being mined illegally, often by slaves, and sold by countries to fund civil wars. These diamonds known as “Blood Diamonds” or “Conflict Diamonds” often find their way onto the open market – passed off legally minded stones.
This led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme being set up in 2000 to combat these diamonds entering the mainstream diamond market and providing documentation on the origins of the diamonds. Some diamond suppliers are going further and are engraving the certification number onto the diamond itself.
If you are new to diamond shopping, making your choice is often overwhelming enough anyway (especially if you are buying it for someone special).
There are many things to consider such as carat, cut, color and clarity. However, if you are worried about how ethical your stone is, you may want to choose a diamond with its own security features built right in…
Diamonds with Serial Numbers
In the US, diamonds that have been graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) carry an engraved serial number. The serial number is engraved into the diamond as part of the certification process, and matches the number on the diamond’s certificate. However, not all diamonds have serial numbers.
Campaigners argue that all valuable diamonds should be certified and engraved to stamp out the trade in blood diamonds. Until now, this may not have been possible, but new technology is making this process easier.
How technology can help reduce trade in blood diamonds
Technology has helped us make a permanent record of the diamond which can now be laser engraved onto the stone itself. The reference number is laser engraved on the belt of the diamond making an incision about 100 microns, so it wouldn’t be visible to naked eye and would need a ten-magnification lens or microscope to be visible. The engraving is only 2 microns deep so doesn’t damage the beauty of the diamond.
Laser technology has also meant that we are able to personalize the diamonds with laser engraved messages to loved ones or significant dates meaning diamonds really are forever.
Until now, the technology has been prohibitively expensive, but companies like as LASIT have developed laser engraving technology so that all types of materials can be engraved or marked. They sell affordable technology to the open market for applications like metal marking tools, and engravers for other materials from diamonds to leather, wood and all types of metals.
Now, we find lasers in almost all areas of our daily life from modern medicine to manufacturing. The laser beam is so stable it can be emitted over vast distances and also concentrated on the smallest of areas which creates intense heat which removes material leaving an engraving on the diamond.
Stamping out the black market
With this new technology, which is becoming ever more accessible, the trade in illegal gems looks to be going the same way as ivory, with only determined crooks operating in an ever shrinking market.
However, this application isn’t limited to stones. Using the same technology, black markets in all kinds of goods could be stamped out, with near invisible, but easily traceable hallmarks and certifications being applied to anything valuable. For example jewellers could use the metal marking tools to engrave expensive watches with traceable or unique codes.
The applications go further; imagine being able to certify everything from jewellery to expensive bike parts or even antiques and heirlooms… even antique ivory. This would allow any ceased or black-market goods to be returned to their rightful owner. In the case of antique ivory, it could allow a system of registration and authentication.
For blood diamonds, it would prevent illegal diamond certificates from so easily being forged and passed onto the open market.
Featured image: Mummane [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons