Basel, Switzerland–The Swiss Gemological Institute said it has become the first grading laboratory in the world to introduce the “ground-breaking” GemTOF instrument in its facility.
The GemTOF conducts chemical analysis on gemstones through laser ablation–a process to remove tiny amounts of material from the surface of a gemstone using a focused laser beam– which allows it to provide more information about the origin of a number of gemstones, as well as precisely identify a range of other elements in colored stones, diamonds and pearls.
More specifically, the instrument uses a system called Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry to conduct chemical analyses of gemstones and pearls.
Like other laser ablation-based systems, it extracts chemical information from a few tiny laser-ablated pits, which usually are restricted to the girdles of gemstones.
However, unlike the other laser-ablation systems currently used by gem labs, GemTOF’s Time-of-Flight technology allows almost all isotopes to be measured at the same time, rather than analyzing a selection of one after another, SSEF said.
It also creates very shallow pits that are about the diameter of a single human hair, meaning they are hardly visible and don’t impact the weight of the stone.
The SSEF said the breakthrough technology of GemTOF offers new possibilities for origin determination of colored gemstones such as emerald, ruby, sapphire, spinel, alexandrite, tourmaline and garnet.
It also can be used for age dating, analysis of inclusions and chemical zoning in gems, diamonds and pearls.
“Being the first gemological laboratory worldwide to introduce this new and highly sensitive instrument to gemstone testing marks a further milestone in SSEF’s mission to offer our clients services based on the most sophisticated scientific techniques available,” lab Director Michael Krzemnicki said.