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July 7, 2021updated 29 Oct 2021 8:17am

Alrosa introduces nanomarking technology to trace diamonds

Russian diamond miner Alrosa has introduced a new diamond-tracing technology using non-invasive laser marking to allow unique identification.

By Yoana Cholteeva

Unlike traditional laser engraving, this type of laser marking cannot be destroyed or polished off. It helps distinguish Alrosa’s diamonds from the rest, including lab-grown diamonds, and allows them to be identified, providing detailed information about the diamonds’ origins.

Consumer surveys in the key diamond markets of the United States and China have indicated that diamond tracing is an important factor when making purchases.

Tracing involves registering all stages of a diamond’s life from the mine to the jewellery store to guarantee its origin.

Alrosa’s non-invasive method for physically marking rough and polished diamonds has been developed with the help of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as Alrosa’s Research Geological Enterprise and the Yakutniproalmaz Institute.

Alrosa’s laser nanomark is imprinted inside the crystal lattice, across the atomic structure of the entire diamond, making it invisible without a scanner. The mark is a three-dimensional code linked to the Alrosa Provenance platform.

It offers in-depth information about the diamond’s origin and characteristics, as well as a unique identification number, photo, video, and details about how it has been cut.

Diamonds with such nanomarkings have been successfully certified by the Gemological institute of America, the industry’s biggest certification centre.

Oleg Kovalchuk, supervisor of the project at the Yakutniproalmaz Institute said: “A nanomark is applied using a laser pulse of a certain wavelength, intensity, and duration. This causes nanoregions to form across the entire crystal, which can only be viewed with a scanner created specifically for reading the marks.

“As such, we have now developed standardised procedures for embedding information and marking a rough diamond with a distributed mark to identify it.”

The company is offering its partners marked diamonds along with the equipment needed to read them. Scanning the code takes less than a minute and will eventually be optimised to ensure greater efficiency.

Alrosa CEO Sergey Ivanov said: “The laser nanomark technology we have created allows these guarantees to be extended to the diamonds sold by our partners. By purchasing jewellery with a diamond protected by a nanomark, the buyer can be sure that it was actually made by Alrosa.

“The three-dimensional code embedded in the diamond is linked to its unique identifier and digital passport on the company’s database, which also includes details of the socio-economic benefits associated with its production.”

Alrosa is currently seeking patents in the world’s major diamond-trading centres and has started application processes in the US, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, the UK, Israel, Belgium, and India.

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