Was your gemstone ethically sourced? You’ll soon be able to know for sure! New gemstone testing and marking techniques can tell you exactly where your diamond or emerald came from. Over recent years the gem industry is seeing a huge increase in demand for ethically sourced gemstones, but up until recently there was no definitive way to track the source of each emerald or diamond hitting the market. The gemstone industry has been on a long journey in its attempt to prevent unethically sourced stones from being sold and it looks like partnerships with technology companies could finally provide a precise and reliable method to track a stone right from its origin. Two main methods of identification and tracking have been developed so far:
The Emerald Paternity Test, developed by Gemfields and Gübelin Gem Lab, is a method that allows the origin of emeralds to be identified with a simple test. The process starts during an emeralds rough, uncut phase when they have DNA-based nanoparticles applied at the mining site. The gemstone then has its own form of DNA identity, that’s specific to each mine, thanks to the nanoparticles that can survive all steps of gemstone processing from cutting through to final polish. The particles are so small that they have no visible impact on the stone’s appearance. The stone can then be tested at any point to identify its source. This new technology allows the emerald industry to create transparency and ensure that all emeralds are sourced from ethical miners who use sustainable techniques.
What do Bitcoins and diamonds have in common? Trying to prevent unethically sourced and sometimes fake diamonds from entering the market has been an ongoing battle for the gem industry but UK-based Everledger is planning to make this problem a thing of the past. Everledger has found a unique new use for Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin!
The diamond industry has traditionally used paper certificates as authentication for diamonds, but it wasn’t common for certificates to be forged. Everledger is combining a unique identification process that records over 40 features, including color, clarity and cut of each diamond to give the stone a unique identity. This ID is then recorded using the blockchain system, creating the stone’s digital certificate. As this certificate is based on blockchain it cannot be altered or falsified and the digital certificate is permanently stored for future reference. Since 2015, Everledger have created IDs for over 1 million diamonds!
Although DNA testing and ID techniques can only currently be used on emeralds and cut diamonds respectively the gem industry is embracing the use of technology to track gem sources. This partnership of technology companies and gem industry leaders is sure to drive the development of more source tracking techniques in the future, creating a fully transparent and ethical gemstone market.
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