Laser test can spot 'blood diamonds'

KILLEEN, Texas, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A new technique using lasers could be employed to identify so-called conflict gemstones, identifying their country of origin, U.S. researchers say.

In a test, the laser technology identified which one of eight countries a diamond came from with 95 percent accuracy, reported last week.


The process could eventually allow companies buying gems to make sure their purchases aren't helping finance bloodshed or civil war in the countries where the gems originate, scientists said.

"With enough data, we could identify which country, which mining region, even the individual mine a mineral comes from," Catherine McManus, director of research at Materialytics Inc., which developed the technique, said.

The process uses a technique known as laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, which is fast and nondestructive to the gems being analyzed.

After the test involving diamonds, the technique was found to work even better on emeralds, rubies and other gems, Materialytics, based in Texas, said.

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