Experts gather at Mintek for Diamond Science

Diamond experts gathered at Mintek to discuss technical issues of footprinting and fingerprinting of diamonds, which the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has adopted to regulate the trade of rough diamonds.

The Working Group of Diamond Experts (WGDE) comprised experts in the diamond industry who assist the KPCS in their endeavours to end the flow of conflict diamonds particularly on the African continent. In attendance were delegates from South Africa, Republic of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, United States of America and the European Union.

Some of the technical issues the workshop discussed related to the consideration to use the concept of Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) as an additional complimentary technique to the process. In to the current technique of laser ablation ICP-MS, which is the main method of diamond fingerprinting.

Dr Makhapha Makhafola, Chair of the Scientific Subgroup, WGDE, spoke on Mintek’s role in the KPCS. .He said that, ”Mintek is assisting to build a robust database of unique chemical and physical properties that help to distinguish diamonds from conflict areas in from those from legitimately mined production areas in conflict areas.  Our role is to use of technology to produce robust and reliable fingerprinting data of diamonds from around the world.” He further added that, “In this way, the legitimacy of diamonds is established and confidence restored to the buyer.”

Diamond footprinting was highlighted by the team from Namibia who expanded on the concepts of size and quality frequency distribution, as well as the limitations of their process.

The workshop was highly successful in creating a platform for the discussion of the KPCS and the work of the Working Group and provided engaging and meaningful discussion to all delegates