How Do You Hide Secret Codes In Diamonds? Space Lasers!

Should you’ve ever purchased an engagement ring, or another diamond jewellery, you seemingly know concerning the “4 Cs”: carat, reduce, coloration, and readability, which between them decide the standard of a gem. The unofficial fifth C is certification—paperwork from an unbiased authority validating the qualities and authenticity of a stone. Now, nonetheless, a UK startup is aiming to convey one more C into the combination: code.

Opsydia, an organization spun out in 2017 from analysis carried out on the College of Oxford, is pioneering the laser inscription of near-invisible identifier codes—what it calls “nano-IDs”—inside diamonds.

Every nano-ID consists of a collection of submicron-size dots which can be imprinted a fifth of a millimeter beneath the gem’s floor, the dots forming a numerical code that’s linked to official certification paperwork or (more and more) blockchain ledgers.

Crucially, such an identifier doesn’t come near registering because the type of mark that may impression a stone’s high quality. Magnification of not less than 200X and particularly designed illumination is required simply to identify these subsurface codes. For comparability, specialists in diamond grading laboratories work with between 40X and 80X magnification; a jeweler’s loupe provides significantly much less.

“As a result of the dots are underneath 1 micron in all dimensions, it’s truly extremely tough to characterize the type of bodily change that’s there—it’s near doing nothing in any respect,” says Lewis Fish, Opsydia’s head of product, pointing to a 5-mm diamond inscribed with a nano-ID. “We despatched that for checking to one of many main grading laboratories, they usually knew the code was there—however they couldn’t discover it.”

Utilizing lasers to inscribe tiny codes and even logos onto diamonds shouldn’t be in itself new. Often positioned on the stone’s girdle (a slender band on the outer perimeter, dividing higher and decrease sections), these have been on supply from grading labs and different suppliers for the reason that Eighties. However the codes’ floor positioning can also be their weak point: They are often polished off. Additionally, as soon as set in a chunk of bijou they might be obscured.

The proliferation of laser expertise, in the meantime, signifies that unhealthy actors can inscribe both faux codes—for example, assigning a serial quantity wrongly designating the next high quality of stone, or certainly labeling a lab-grown diamond as pure—or counterfeit variations of the logos of official laboratories and establishments.

Dynamite With a Laser Beam

Every Opsydia nano-ID consists of a collection of submicron-sized dots imprinted a fifth of a millimeter beneath the gem’s floor.


Against this, as a result of Opsydia’s expertise—which is packaged up in a piano-size machine equipped to business gamers similar to jewellery manufacturers, producers, and grading labs at a value of £400,000 ($524,000)—locations the inscription beneath the floor, it’s supposedly out of attain of the scammers.