Earlier this year, the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), a De Beers Group company, announced SYNTHdetect – a new type of screening device that jewelry and gemstone retailers can use to detect undisclosed synthetic diamonds.
Diamond screening devices are not a new technology. However, the IIDGR’s SYNTHdetect is interesting because it works differently than other detection and screening devices. Rather than trying to flag diamonds with synthetic characteristics, it actually works by identifying and confirming the known indicators of natural diamonds (which kind of makes the “SYNTHdetect” branding a misnomer). If you think about it, this approach actually makes sense. Synthetic diamonds are grown in controlled conditions, so there are none of the unique inclusions and flaws found in natural diamonds.
SYNTHdetect finds these natural indicators by using time-resolved photoluminescence – which basically measures the fluorescence of a sample over time after its molecules are excited by a luminescent flash (such as a laser pulse). If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s somewhat similar to one of the methods we use to test precious metals: X-ray Fluorescence.
Leveraging this testing method, SYNTHdetect is able quickly and simultaneously screen multiple diamonds at once – which can be loose or set into any type of jewelry. Additionally, IIDGR claims their product has a referral rate (i.e. test results are inconclusive and the sample must be referred to a specialist) of only 0.05%, while similar devices average referral rates of 9-10%.