New Emerald Paternity Test can trace the exact origin of a stone

The nano technology is applied onto rough emerald crystals at the mine itself. Courtesy Gemfields
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An ethically sourced gem indicates that a particular stone hails from a mine where human and environment interests are safeguarded. With films such as Blood Diamond making buyers more aware of the horrific conditions behind "dirty" gemstones, to be able to tell whether a piece you own comes from a responsible mine is important to a growing number of jewellery lovers.

Now, a new and independent test developed by the Gübelin Gem Lab can confirm exactly where an emerald has been sourced from. The Emerald Paternity Test adopts a traceability technology to confirm the provenance of these rare and precious gems. Developed by gemstone analysts Gübelin Gem Lab, the test uses customised DNA-based nanoparticles to trace an emerald back to the exact place of its mining.

The nano technology is applied onto rough emerald crystals at the mine itself, and it can withstand the procedures the stones go through – cleaning, cutting, polishing, transportation and setting – before coming to the market. The particles can then be retrieved and analysed at any stage, offering corporate and government departments, jewellery brands and end users a means to ensure that they are buying a clean stone.

In order to bring more transparency into the coloured-gemstone industry, Gübelin also invited Gemfields to join the project as a test partner at Baselworld this month. A leading producer of responsibly sourced stones, Gemfields is the majority owner of the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia (the largest in the world), and the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. Chief executive Ian Harebottle said: "Embracing innovation, technology and increased transparency is at the heart of our approach. We are excited about the outcome of this test as it offers a multitude of benefits to the industry and the buyer."