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MEI Online: Commodities: Non-Metallic Ores: Diamond: Latest News: August 29th 2003

:: Diamond Fingerprinting  

Researchers at the University of Ghent and at the Diamond High Council in Antwerp appear to have made significant progress in the 'fingerprinting' of diamonds. In a paper recently published by the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, the researchers explained how they studied a total of 31 diamonds taken from four different diamond mines (Orapa in Botswana, Premier in South Africa, Udachny in Russia and Panda in Canada). After cleaning, a highly focused laser was used to vaporise a small amount of diamond from eight different points on each stone (the total mass of material sampled from each diamond was approximately 16 microgrammes). The resulting vapour was then subjected to inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and found to contain some 75 different elements.

However, after analysis, the researchers found that only nine elements (Al, Hg, Na, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sn, Ti and Zn) were suitable for use in 'fingerprinting'. The researchers then used a variety of pattern-recognition techniques (ternary plots, cluster analysis and partial least-squares) to classify the data for these nine elements. This enabled the researchers correctly to attribute the source of the diamonds.

As a consequence of their findings, the researchers believe that a larger-scale study is justified. Such a study would sample a larger number of diamonds and could eventually enable the differentiation of 'conflict diamonds' from those produced from legitimate mines.



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