Locating Diamonds Through X-Rays

Diamonds are spectacular, there’s no doubt about that. Their rarity plays a large role in their appeal, but even if the precious stones were found in greater abundance, they would still be fascinating due to the way in which they make their way from beneath the depths of earth to the jewelry worn by the general public.

The diamonds we all know have to travel a long journey just to arrive at the mine, let alone the jewelry store or your jewelry box. A tremendous amount of research, labor, and intricate cutting is involved in reaching the final result. Diamonds are found in various locations around the globe, but even when concentrated in a contained area can be extremely difficult to find. The process of uncovering the diamonds from the kimberlite ore in which they are found is time consuming and costly. Though the technology for locating diamonds in mined ore through X-ray technology has existed for quite some time, the ability to detect diamonds hidden deep inside chunks of kimberlite ore did not, until now.

X-Raying Diamonds on the Surface of Mined Ore

It takes an extraordinary amount of resources to locate kimberlite and uncover ore, but the larger task of discovering actual diamonds still remains. Having a device that is capable of x-raying the ore to reveal whether or not it contains diamonds not only saves a great deal of time, which can otherwise be dedicated toward finding stones, but can also assist in saving money that can be better spent. This process requires the diamonds to be at the surface of the ore and works by irradiating and activating the gems, which then emit a light in the optical spectrum. Interestingly enough, the procedure does not work with the purest of diamonds, as such stones do not radiate under x-ray light. The main downside of this type of x-raying is that in order to get the best results, the rock needs to be broken down into pieces. This is extremely time consuming yet necessary in order to find the diamonds efficiently, despite the risk of potentially damaging large stones, which are the most valuable of them all.

X-Raying Chunks of Kimberlite

Diamonds are found in kimberlite, but not all kimberlite contains diamonds.

Though it has been possible to detect diamonds found on the surface of mined ore for some time now with the help of x-raying equipment, the ability to find diamonds buried deep inside the kimberlite rock had yet to be invented. Now, with the help of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute’s Development center for X-Ray Technology EZRT, the technology for spotting the gems from within chunks of kimberlite has been developed. The device blasts the kimberlite with two x-rays from different spectrums and creates two vivid images of the same location within the rock, which are later analyzed using a special algorithm. Even tiny pieces of ore, such as one only a few millimeters in length, can benefit from this technology. This is a great discovery for diamond mining and the diamond industry as a whole. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. It is the hope that this technology will soon be integrated into a system that will use a conveyer belt in such a way that great amounts of ore can be passed through the machine and x-rayed, leaving only those with diamonds found inside of them to be dealt with.

It has taken these magnificent gems millions of years to find their way to the Earth’s surface, and yet they are still so far away from our fingertips. The various diamond mines around the globe, namely those in Australia, Africa, and India, have made use of different techniques in order to bring those precious stones closer to us. The enormous undertaking involves top of the line machinery that has been updated and improved over the years as well as modern technology, which will hopefully only make the mining process and industry more efficient and stable.

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