RAPAPORT… Gübelin Gem Lab has unveiled a radical solution for tracing
the origin of emeralds, using nanotechnology to mark stones with an invisible
imprint that is accessible at any stage of the supply chain.
Branded the “emerald paternity test,” the technology is a “true
game-changer for the colored-gemstone industry,” the Switzerland-based
laboratory said in a statement Monday.
DNA-based nanoparticles are applied to rough emeralds at the
mine and are designed to survive the stages through which the gemstone passes,
including cleaning, cutting, polishing, transportation and setting. They can be decoded at any point in their journey from
mine to jewelry.
This is the first time nanotechnology – the branch of technology
dealing with dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers – has been used for this
purpose, the lab claimed.
The tiny particles are small enough not to impact the
stone’s appearance, even with an optical microscope, meaning they will not
affect a stone’s grading properties.
“This technology offers all stakeholders along the entire
supply chain, from the miner to the final customers, proof of the exact source
of emeralds, instilling confidence and creating trust,” said Daniel Nyfeler, the
organization’s managing director. “It enables a new level of transparency for
the gemstone trade.”
The House of Gübelin, which operates the lab, introduced the
tracing technology for an emerald extracted at the Belmont mine in Brazil. The
company added the nanoparticles to the emerald directly at the mine, and the
stone is now on a platinum ring.