Sunday, 26 January 2014

Synthetic Diamonds Primer

Dating back to the 19th century, there have been many claims for the creation of diamond in a lab.
For many years conventional wisdom was that diamond would form only under conditions of high pressure and high temperature (HPHT).

The first commercially available “manmade” diamond was produced at high pressure and high temperature by General Electric in 1956. HPHT growth imitates natural diamond formation, but with carefully selected input materials to catalyze crystal growth. Today, billions of carats of diamonds are manufactured annually by the HPHT process, mostly for industrial applications.
In 1954 a patent was issued for another type of diamond growth: the CVD (chemical vapor deposition) process. In the late 1980s, scientists discovered how to reproducibly grow diamond using the CVD process.

The CVD process is quite different from natural diamond formation. It produces diamond from a heated mixture of a hydrocarbon gas (typically methane) and hydrogen in a vacuum chamber at very low pressures.
The CVD process produces gem-quality synthetic diamond of great beauty, with properties virtually identical to those of natural diamond. Because of their high purity, these CVD products are type IIa.
Detection has advanced to the point where any CVD-grown sample can be identified with certainty. The CVD growth process itself occurs under conditions that bring about readily detectable features, including:

1. a low-pressure, highly energetic hydrogen-rich environment
2. the presence of silicon from grower parts
3. the presence of residual nitrogen in the grower
4. the layer-by-layer addition of carbon atoms on the growing surface


SURAT: Experts appointed by Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) to understand the landscape of man-made (synthetic or lab-grown) diamonds and its likely impact on the industry have started a secret operation to find out the units manufacturing synthetic diamonds in a clandestine manner in the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat.

The small diamond manufacturers in the diamond hub of Varachha and Katargam have come under the scanner following reports of the large-scale mixing of synthetic lab-grown diamonds in the natural diamond parcels. Sources said there are some unscrupulous elements in the diamond industry polishing synthetic stones at secret locations in the city.

The polished synthetic diamonds are then mixed with natural diamonds and sold in the diamond markets located at Mahidharpura and Varachha.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Oxus Treasure

Cyrus the Great
The Oxus treasure is a collection of about 180 pieces of metalwork in gold and silver from the Achaemenid Persian period, found by the Oxus river about 1877-1880 in Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan.

It is the most important surviving collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. (6th-4th century BC)
The Achaemenid Dynasty built an empire (559–330 BC) which, at its peak, spanned three continents.

In sheer land mass, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen until 331-330 BC, when Alexander the Great toppled the Persian regime on his eastward march from the Mediterranean through Afghanistan to India.


The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BCE), was an empire in Western and Central Asia, founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great. The dynasty draws its name from king Achaemenes, who ruled Persis between 705 BCE and 675 BCE. The empire expanded to eventually rule over much of the ancient world which at around 500 BCE stretched from the Indus Valley in the east, to Thrace and Macedon on the northeastern border of Greece, making it the biggest empire the world had yet seen. The Achaemenid Empire would eventually control Egypt as well.

Panoramic view of the Naqsh-e Rustam. This site contains the tombs of four Achaemenid kings, including those of Darius I and Xerxes.
In 480 BCE, it is estimated that 50 million people lived in the Achaemenid Empire or about 44% of the world's population at the time, making it by population the largest empire.

Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon) defeated the Persian armies at Granicus (334 BCE), followed by Issus (333 BCE), and lastly at Gaugamela (331 BCE). Afterwards, he marched on Susa and Persepolis which surrendered in early 330 BCE.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Hydrophane Opal

Hydrophane (Greek: hydro - water; phane - cause to appear) is a variety of opal that appears dull and turbid until immersed in water, it emits streams of bubbles, often accompanied by appropriate noises. It slowly becomes translucent and in some cases, totally transparent with play-of-colour.

Some examples show the opposite effect: precious opal loses play-of-colour when immersed in water. They are very rare and are called "Reverse Hydrophane".

Monday, 6 January 2014

Anthill Garnets

Arizona pyrope garnet is called ant hill garnet because ants bring up the smaller crystals from below ground and deposit them in the ant hill when building or remodeling. The ants encounter the garnets while excavating their underground passages, haul them to the surface and discard them.

The rain washes the garnets clean and moves them down the flank of the anthill where they can accumulate in large numbers. This concentrates the little gems and makes them easy for people to collect.
Ant hill garnets occur in a remote section of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. During the 1800's Navajos in this locale used the water-worn and rounded ant Hill garnet crystals as bullets.

Ant hill garnets are recognized as possessing the finest bright ruby-red color of the garnet family. The typical anthill garnet is a tiny stone - almost always less than one carat when cut into a cabochon or faceted stone. The ants are smart enough to excavate around larger stones rather than haul them to the surface.