CIGem News Spring 2010 - ISSN 0846-3611 GEMMOLOGY CANADA - Wolf Kuehn, F.G.G., F.G.A., Editor

The Quarterly Newsletter of the Canadian Institute of Gemmology (C.I.G.)

From the Editor

The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games are over and Vancouver, British Columbia is back to normal. Most of our activities had to be postponed until now as the whole city had been taken over by locals and foreigners coming from around the globe. It was nice to see our beautiful city in the spotlight of the world. I am happy that our CIGem News Spring 2010 edition is on time to go out for the beginning of a new season.

Exotic Gems, Volume I

Exotic Gems
Renee Newman has just published the first volume of her "Exotic Gems" series: How to Identify and Buy Tanzanite, Ammolite, Rhodochrosite, Sultanite, Sunstone, Moonstone & Other Feldspars. Written for both consumers and professionals, the 154 page book contains 288 colour photos, is easy to read, well-organized, and packed with fascinating information and photos. Price US$ 19.95

You can order this book from our on-line store or directly from the author.

I highly recommend Renee Newman's gem series of Buying Guides and Handbooks. A completely revised new edition of her "Pearl Buying Guide" will be ready later this summer.

In this context I also would like to remind of the "John Sinkankas Feldspar Symposium 2010" to be held in Carlsbad, California on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Named for one of the most distinguished and influential figures in gemmology and mineralogy, The John Sinkankas Symposium is an annual one-day event featuring presentations by noted specialists working in diverse gem-related disciplines or occupations. For more info visit the Symposium Page.

About Tibetan red Andesine

Several gemmological journals have published a research paper by Dr. Ahmadjan Abduriyim claiming that untreated red andesine had been discoverd in a Tibetan mine. As there has been a lot of controversy about the existence of such a mine a group of researchers prepared a resolution in Sept. 09. See Red Feldspar: A Puzzle to Fix.

Quote from the resolution: "Before any conclusions can be reached, sample integrity must be established...........only samples that have been collected onsite by a trusted team with no commercial connection to the mines can be considered valid". Obviously this recommendation was not followed; the 15 page research paper by Dr. Ahmadjan Abduriyim has certainly educational value and is of interest to the gemmological community.

The mine supposedly produces 40 kg of orange-red andesine annually and is primarily destined for Japanese and Hong Kong markets.

andesineDr. Rossman, professor of mineralogy at the California Institute of Technology, has studied feldspars for over 25 years and obtained samples directly from the mine owners during the Tucson 2010 gem shows and allegedly from Dr. Abduriyim. Using argon release experiments results were the same on all stones from Inner Mongolia or Tibet (or those claimed to have come from Congo).

His observation: "None of the stones from Tibet (that were obtained from either people who say their family owns the mine or from people who visited the mine) showed the large amounts of radiogenic argon that the the yellow, rough Inner Mongolia stones showed"."The analytical results resemble the treated Inner Mongolia feldspar so closely that they raise doubts about the claim of natural red andesine mines in Tibet".

See The Red Feldspar Project by Dr. George Rossmann.

UV-VIS - NIR Spectrometers for the Gemmologist

Lately there have been some great bargains on eBay for various types of used spectrometers. Here are some suggestions and recommendations:

In order to properly use any of these compact spectrometers in a gemmological laboratory they have to be tailored to their application. For instance a few years ago we purchased an Ocean Optics USB 2000 spectrometer; it had a reflection probe designed for colour grading and was fine for general spectrometry. Then with the advent of inexpensive UV LEDs we started research on how to replace the antiquated mercury lamp for UV short and long-wave reactions. We wanted to know whether the UV LEDs were a suitable alternative and how different excitation sources (including LEDs and lasers) might cause variations in the emission spectrum of a gem. See my abstract on "UV-LEDs Setting a New Standard for Fluorescence Observations" or View/Download my GIT 2008, Bangkok poster View/Download/View PDF2.5 Mb

For this work we had to refit our Ocean Optics USB 2000 (range 200 - 850 nm) spectrometer, the fibers and the light source. A new optical bench with a UV2/OFLV-4 detector, 25um slit and grating 600 lines blazed at 300 um had to be installed. Ultraviolet radiation below 300 nm degrades transmission in silica fibers, resulting in solarisation which can invalidate date. As a consequence we had to purchase new premium-grade fiber assemblies which also could be used with our HL-2000 Tungsten Halogen Light Source; this lamp is optimized for the VIS-NIR (360 nm-2000 nm) and we use it with our NIR256-2.5 which again requires different fibers. We are very happy with SpectraSuite, an OS-independent spectroscopy software developed by Ocean Optics.

Ocean OpticsI highly recommend Ocean Optics  because their staff is very knowledgeable and help you to set up a system for your specific needs; they even have workshops to provide some basic training.

Unless you can buy a used unit with exactly the proper specs an upgrade could cost more than a new system. If you are in the market for a new universal spectrometer I would recommend Ocean Optics new XR-series (200 - 1050 nm) spectrometers. A full package including optical fibres, a proper light source and modern software will cost about US $ 6,000.

In our Gemlab Research & Technology department GLSPwe are presently working on our own USB portable GL Gem Spectrometer (GLGemSpec 300 - 1000 nm FWHM <1.00 nm) with customized software; the prize for a basic setup including fiber probe, GL Tungsten Halogen Light Source (GLHalogen 10W) and soft-ware will be under $ 1,800. See for preliminary information with specs and pricing.

The GLGemSpec will also work on the LabView platform (see image); VIs for version 7.1., 8 and 9 have already been developed.

The instrument will be offered at a discount to A.G. (C.I.G.) graduates and participants in the AG-PDP program; the upgrade GEM 250 course will contain a training module for the broad range GL Gem Spectrometer. We will report about the testing phase in the CIGem News Summer 2010 edition.

Spectrometers are just another item in the modern gemmologist's tool arsenal. They work in tandem with other gemmological equipment and require an operator with solid gemmological training and skills. If you are not prepared for the challenge then just stick with your hand spectroscope; it is a much cheaper solution and works without computer and electricity. There are various forums where people have shared their experiences using spectrometers. Recommended tutorials and resources: SpectroscopyTV and SpectroscopyOnline: How Optical Advances Helped Deliver the Promise of Miniature Spectrometers.

Don't expect your spectrograms to look as perfect as those found in scientific journals. Researchers often use their proprietary equipment; sometimes they do not provide all the details about their testing equipment and it is difficult to reproduce or match results. For more sophisticated setups integrating spheres and special lighting will be necessary; costs for hard and soft-ware with databases quickly move into the $ 20,000+ range.

Diamonds and Venezuela

Orinoco Canaima park falls

Here is my report about my travel to Venezuela to look for gold and diamonds.

A former C.I.G. student had travelled to neighbouring Guyana (capital Georgetown) before and came back with nice diamond crystals he purchased from natives in the jungle. I was interested in the region around Ciudad Guyana and south towards the Brazilian border where gold and mining sites have been reported along the Orinoco and Canaima National Park. This area is also known for oil exploration and I became quickly aware of that as a night in a better hotel can easily cost $ 150 - 200. So I moved onto Ciudad Bolivar - the starting point of my 4-day tour to the Angel Falls. On our boat trip we passed several abandoned mining areas and at the local Indian markets some gold and diamond crystals were offered but in small quantities.

Venezuela has voluntarily withdrawn from the Kimberly Process; see report. Nobody knows exactly where the diamonds are going and who is buying them.

Update: Venezula has voluntarily suspended exports and imports of rough diamonds until further notice according to the official website Kimberley Process; there is a "grey area" about "personal use" diamonds imported from those countries into KP compliant countries (the process refers to "trade in rough diamonds").

Venezuela is a very interesting country; but it was the most difficult country to travel in and sometimes I was a bit concerned with safety. As in all South American countries it is best to travel "incognito"; i.e. nobody knows who your are, where you are going and how much money you may have in your pocket.

Gemfair in Teófilo Otoni, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Teofilo OtoniThe annual and very popular FIPP2010 (Feira Internacional das Pedras Preciosas) will be held again in Teófilo Otoni, Minas Gerais, Brazil from August 24-28, 2010.

I will be travelling to the historic town of Diamantina before the Gem Show and visit the small town of Araçuaí in the Jequitinhonha River valley.

If someone else is planning to attend FIPP 2010 and needs more info please contact me; at the moment the FIPP website is not up as yet.

BC Gem and Mineral Show, April 9 - 11

BC Gem ShowThe B.C. Gem Show will be held at the Ag-Rec Bldg, CFV Fairgrounds, 32470 Haida Drive in Abbotsford, B.C. Opening hours are: Fri, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.. Adults $ 6, Students (6 - 17) $ 2, Under 6 Free (accompanied by an adult). Club Displays, Demonstrations, Gold Panning and Door Prizes.

The Canadian Institute of Gemmology will be present with an exhibit and a booth. Books and Instruments will be on sale (with up to 50% discount only during the show). There will be study stones and minerals for sale as well. For more info.

I had the honour to give my "Emerald Mines in Muzo" presentation before members of the B.C. Lapidary Society on Sunday, February 28. It was a memorable event because during the meeting the Canadian men's hockey team won their gold medal ending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Accredited Gemmologist (C.I.G.)® Professional Development Program

Vancouver C.I.G. courses and workshops - Spring 2010

Pearls, Opal and Jade - PLEASE REGISTER BY April 16 - More info and on-line registration here

  • Course 160-1 Fri, April 30, 6:15 - 9:00 p.m., Sat/Sun, May 1/2, 10 a.m - 4:30 p.m. (weekend class, Vancouver)
  • Cost: $ 495 includes text-book and exam fee (no GST), study materials with binder will be shipped upon registration

    In this course you will learn about pearl types and shapes, how to judge luster, thickness, colour and size of pearls. The identification and evaluation of South Sea, black and freshwater pearls and other organic gems are also covered. There will be one session on opal and its evaluation. Another session will cover the jades - oriental jadeite and nephrite.

    This course is also available by correspondence. More info.

    Gem Identification I - PLEASE REGISTER BY May 7

    Cost: $ 995 includes all study materials and text-book, access to fully equipped workstation and exam fees (no GST)

  • Course 150-1 Sat - Tue, May 22 - 25, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (4 day course)
  • In this intensive lab course you will use the full range of gem testing equipment necessary to identify natural, imitation and synthetic gemstones. In 10 lab assignments students will identify between 80 and 100 gemstones including synthetic stones. Each student has access to a fully equipped work-station with stereo-microscope, polariscope, refractometer, spectroscope and other instruments.

    Prerequisite: Course 110 Introduction to Gemstones and Course 120 Gemmology II

    For more information about Vancouver courses go here.

    We have reduced the price for several books to clear our inventory. Go to Specials or visit gemlab Books and Instruments.

    The name and logo GEMLAB GROUP is a registered trade mark (Registration # TMA407372 with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office).

    Past issues of C.I.Gem News: Click on the edition you want to read:Special GIT 2008 edition - Spring 2009 - Summer 2009  - Fall 2009  - Winter 2010. The next newsletter will be published June 21, 2010.

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    The articles in CIGem News express the opinions of the editor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Institute of Gemmology (C.I.G.). The included links are provided for educational purposes. Copyright and content responsibility remains with the linked organization and do not represent any endorsement by the author. The designation ACCREDITED GEMMOLOGIST (C.I.G.)® diploma is a registered certification mark (see Industry Canada, Canadian Intellectual Property Office) and requires a user license for business use.