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Live from Tucson: A synthetic ruby identifier

By Brecken Branstrator

February 07, 2014


Presidium Instruments has introduced a synthetic ruby identifier this week at the GemFair in Tucson. The portable device passes UV light through either loose or single-mounted stones to detect if it is a flame fusion-created ruby.

Tucson, Ariz.--Presidium Instruments is showcasing what it claims is the world’s first device to detect flame fusion-created rubies at the American Gem Trade Association GemFair this week.

The Synthetic Ruby Identifier measures the ability of ultraviolet light to pass through the stone, based on the knowledge that gemstones have a very significant difference in light admittance if they are natural versus synthetic.

The device features a UV light that passes through the ruby and toward a light detector on the base. Light bars on the front of the lid light up to provide an easy reading that indicates if the UV light transmittance ability of the ruby is high or low.

Natural rubies have low UV transmittance because of trace elements that absorb the deep UV light, allowing for little to pass through.

Other types of synthetic rubies that weren’t created by flame fusion could have either high or low transmittance ability, depending on the transition metal ions inside that may have been introduced during the growth process. As they are rare, Presidium was not able to get enough samples for testing, and the device cannot accurately detect those.

However, it can accurately detect a flame fusion-created ruby, according to the company, which is the most common type of synthetic ruby. These typically have few transition metal ions and therefore allow more UV light to pass through.

The identifier is designed to work on both single-mounted stones as well as loose rubies and allows for a very quick screening process.

The device is lightweight and portable, and is powered by battery or through its USB port connected to an external power source.

The USB also allows the identifier to be connected to a computer, where the data can be saved on OMI, computer software developed by Presidium to store, analyze and manage all the test data.

A company spokesperson told National Jeweler that the software is currently in beta test mode but will be released by the time those in the United States would receive their identifiers in the spring, and therefore will be available to use in tandem with the machine.

To create the identifier, Singapore-based Presidium partnered with the Gem & Jewelry Institute of Thailand, which provided them with the many ruby samples used to develop it. The device is the company’s first to help identify synthetics.

It retails for $2,199, and is available to purchase in the U.S. through authorized resellers, which are also showing the product at their booths at GemFair this week--A & A Jewelry Supply at Booth 1523 and Kassoy at Booth 2210.

Additional information also can be found at the Gem & Jewelry Institute of Thailand’s booth, No. 38, or online at Presidium.com.

Presidium also will showcase their new device at the Bangkok and Hong Kong jewelry shows this month as well as Baselworld 2014.