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 Post subject: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:08 am 
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Hello, everyone!!!
I need your professional help, guys!
I'm a practicing gemologist and I'm thinking about opening a small lab. Could you recommend me, please, a must have low cost equipment (Raman/FTIR/VSNIR) for spectroscopy? I have a small budget under 5000$ and can't understand what I really need to make these goals:
1. See if the Ruby, sapphire or emerald was treated or heated? Was it healed and what is the filler (oil, wax, glass, flux)?
2. Diagnostic opaque stones?
3. Detect synthetic HPHT/CVD diamonds and their enhancement?
4. Detect synthetic quartz? Was the citrine heated from amethyst?
5. Detect Cu in Paraiba tourmaline or answer is the red tourmaline is Rubelite or not?

I understand, that I couldn't make all these tasks on one machine, but could you write, please, on what equipment I can do the most tasks? And what needs for others?

I will see only diagram with the peaks or I can see the name of the stone and it's composition too? (I'm sorry for the stupid question, but I never had an experience of work with the spectrometers and I just can +/- present in general terms how to use them).

What can you tell about GL Gem spectrometer, GL Gem Raman, Thunder optics Raman? Could you recommend them? Or it's better to find something used, but great working?

Thank you a lot!
Looking forward for you answers!


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:34 am 
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Morning and welcome.

You are attributing too many benefits from spectrographic instruments. Furthermore, $5000 will not come close to covering the cost for ramans, ftir and vsnir.

-As far as detecting treatment, I believe a good microscope and the skills to use it would be your best tool.

- One can get a refractive index on an opaque stone.

-Synthetic quartz is usually determine optically...with a microscope. Determining if citrine is heat treated amethyst...in most (almost all) cases YES.

-Rubellite is a subjective opinion. I don't know of any instrument that can make that call for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:00 pm 
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Hello, Barbra!
Thank you for a answer!
I have a good microscope and I surely can see some treatments, but there are different cases, you know... sometimes it can be difficult or even impossible and I can't tell the filler material for sure!
As for synthetic quartz, could you tell me what technic do you use to identify it, especially when it is absolutely clean and don't haved any inclusions?
As for citrines, I have seen many of them, and many weren't heated, but in some cases I want to know it for sure.
I don't know any laboratory, that works without spectroscopy for such cases...
As I know Rubellite must contain Al and Li and have Mn as color agent, and spectroscopy can help to find it out.


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:32 pm 
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Where did you study gemology?

There will always be something which you encounter (as a private gemologist) that you will need bigger guns to positively identify.

That's when you send the unknown to a lab which has the equipment and the experience to do the heavy lifting. Note that the GIA does not hire GGs to work in their colored stone labs, they hire chemists, mineralogists and engineers with PhDs.

Yes, ALL important gemological labs have several spectographic instruments, but their budget is not limited to $5000. Actually, it is usually not limited at all. Even then, there are treatments and specimens which gem labs can not identify. In this case, the unknowns are sent along for further analysis with the bigger guns, like Dr. George Rossman at Caltech.

CITRINE:
How do you know your citrines were not heated? Did you find the rough in the field?
To my knowledge, there is no instrument which separates heated amethyst from naturally occurring citrine. Treatment is undetectable. One can presume that the citrine used in jewelry is heat treated poor quality amethyst.
RUBELLITE:
Rubellite is defined by color, not chemistry. Rubellite is often irradiated. "Hot" pink to pinkish-red (often) result from irradiation of colorless, light green and pink varieties. The treatment in not detectable.
https://www.gemdat.org/gem-3472.html
SYNTHETIC QUARTZ:
You may wish to review this pdf published by the DGemG (my Alma mater)
http://www.dgemg.com/images/Newsletter2 ... chmitz.pdf

If you are still interested in equipping your lab with serious spectrographic tools developed specifically for gemological use, you are going to have to stretch your budget a wee bit. :D
MAGI - M&A Gemological Instruments Ltd.
Purchase prices
GemmoRaman-532™ 11500€
GemmoRaman-532SG™ 20600€
GemmoFtir™ 19000€
GemmoSphere™ 7200€


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:07 am 
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Well, yes, I understand that there are no limits for these tools, but I'm not talking about X-RAY OR LA-ICP-MS for 65000$.. I'm just talking about low cost Raman or FTIR (maybe used for a 10 years, but still good working) and asking which one will cover more targets I have noticed earlier and that's all.


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:34 am 
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Neo-alchimic wrote:
... but I'm not talking about X-RAY OR LA-ICP-MS for 65000$..


gee, please when you find an LA-ICP-MS for that price grab one for me!!! i guess you really need to re-check your knowledge about pricing of that gizmo.... :wink: even an Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence unit suitable for gemology is priced far higher than that. usually between 80k and 200k. don't be fooled by the small or even handheld units, those can work for a very limited number of elements. they are ok for precious metal alloys but not much more than that, for sure not for the elemental analysis required in our field.

Quote:
I'm just talking about low cost Raman or FTIR (maybe used for a 10 years, but still good working) and asking which one will cover more targets I have noticed earlier and that's all.


there's plenty of previous generation tools on the second-hand market, some of them for veery low amount of money but, well i would really suggest you to think about it twice before to put any money on them. I would for example ask myself: why a FTIR paid 50k 10 yrs ago is now for sale for 5k? there are plenty of possible reasons. those units get old very fast, many of them work only with VERY old PC almost impossible to find nowadays and, of course not working anymore in a modern network environment. some of them could have almost dead lasers and, in some cases the manufacturers do not produce them anymore for not to speak about their cost if for a miracle they are still available....so, maybe your unit can work for 2 months before being definitely dead....with no hope to be resurrected. Of course everything can be found on the used market, even spare parts but.....do you have the experience required for seevicing parts in those units? Now let's assume for a moment you was able to snatch a thermo nicolet for, say 5-10k. If by chance that be beaten to work what you are getting is a unit producing a spectrum: (i will not face the issue related to sampling modules here coz the post will be endless) since there's no commercial FTIR coming with gemological database are you able to interpret the result by your own? I mean, everything can be done but you really need to focus on what are your skills and if you really wanna face all the possible troubles connected with the deal. Just to be clear, don't wanna discouraging you. Please keep all above as seasoned advices from someone who done that & been there, multiple times.

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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:31 am 
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Hello, Alberto!
Thank you very much for your answer!!!
I've seen your previous discussions and hoped a lot you'll see my topic! :-)
I understood you well... I didn't think about these underwater stones in buying old used unites.
I've heard that FTIR is very helpful for distinguishing natural and lab grown stones, but also needs deep knowledge to use it, and of course I haven't got nor knowledge, nor time to get it... and what about Raman? I've read on the one site of manufacturer, that it is suit simple in use and there is a special data with preloaded mineral compositions.
Could you tell me, have you ever heard about GL GEM SPECTROMETER? In which cases it can help me or it's just a toy?
Why I'm interested in this topic? I'm leaving on the Balcans and there is no any serious world known lab in my country, only one institute of mineralogy in the capital. I leave on the another side of the country and here are some people that don't want to send the stones to the capital, I can help them, but in some cases I mentioned earlier I can't give them conclusive report... I want to have an opportunity to make more conclusive reports for a bit wider range of cases (I hope you understand me: ) ). What could you reccomend me to use beside standard gem equipment?
About the prices: I've seen this MS spectrometer on the eBay and honestly to say hadn't read was it working or not, because there wasn't any difference for we for that price :-)
About X-ray: I know where to buy it for 45k and it will work and even don't need a notebook, just phone. :-) But I don't have such money to buy it...


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:31 am 
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Hi,
Modern materials and treatments are very demanding on analytical performance.
So, even, small lab use at least FTIR, Raman and UV-VIS.
To understand what you need, you must know what kind of stones you are going to test: any or limited on specific ones, like diamonds, set or lose...

I could only advice to start with Raman and move step by step... used ones, as Alberto describe, mostly parts could be very expensive and FTIR is really demanding for knowledge... used Romans: very few on secondary market, even less with 532 nm laser

If we talk about ICP-MS, than you must remember about sampling: LA, that part could cost 130 kUSD separately, XRF - the problem comes from sensitivity to light elements and overall sensitivity, so it's limited by construction...


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:40 am 
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Neo-alchimic wrote:
I've heard that FTIR is very helpful for distinguishing natural and lab grown stones, but also needs deep knowledge to use it, and of course I haven't got nor knowledge, nor time to get it... and what about Raman? I've read on the one site of manufacturer, that it is suit simple in use and there is a special data with preloaded mineral compositions.


well, the best way to get answers about those questions is to read some papers. a couple of links could help:
http://www.gemmoraman.com/Articles/Rama ... ified.aspx
http://www.gemmoraman.com/Articles/Limi ... meter.aspx
http://www.gemmoraman.com/GemmoFtir.aspx

of course you should surf the net for more deep articles, the more u read, the clearer will be the idea in your mind about the techniques

Quote:
Could you tell me, have you ever heard about GL GEM SPECTROMETER? In which cases it can help me or it's just a toy?


as a manufacturer myself I usually do not comment features of other instruments.... ;-).. usually getting feedbacks from users is the most effective way to have a clue.

Quote:
. What could you reccomend me to use beside standard gem equipment?


well, all the spectroscopy techniques are very good for some tasks, good for others and useless for others..... usually they are all present in the modern gemlab in order to help the gemologist in every aspect of his/her work.

Quote:
About X-ray: I know where to buy it for 45k and it will work and even don't need a notebook, just phone. :-) But I don't have such money to buy it...


i am not aware about any lab grade gemological EDXRF which can work with a phone, interesting, any info about that?

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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:32 pm 
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Hi, Peters!
Thank for advises and taking part in the dissuasion.
Could you tell me, please, is it true for Raman (if we use a PL data too), that it can separate cu tourmaline from usual, synthetic Ruby from natural (for different color agents), confirm Rubellite and catch x-heated amethyst or not?
As for your questions, Alberto, I like to work with colored stones more, but the reality is that people mostly come to check their "diamonds", so I need to have an opportunity to work with different stones. Now, according to my budget, I have choice between GL Gem spectrometer and ultra low cost Raman from thunder optics,... could you tell me, whichone can open more horizonts for me (don't take the manufacturiers, please, I write you them, just you to know the level of the equipment I can afford. My general question is about technic of these devices, which will be more helpful for me on yours opinion? )
As for X-ray, it isn't in use in the lab, it's my friend's machine, but if is very satisfied with it, because it gives all the composition of the material on the phone directly! I asked him about the price, because it seemed to be very easy to use and helpful for me, but it costs a lot..I have a picture of it how it works, but have the problems with the attachment....


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:01 pm 
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At the risk of having you completely dismiss my answer, again...
Quote:
Could you tell me, please, is it true for Raman (if we use a PL data too), that it can separate cu tourmaline from usual, NO, synthetic Ruby from natural (for different color agents)NO, confirm Rubellite NO and catch x-heated amethyst or not? NO


I have owned and operated my GemmoRaman for several years in my lab. I'm familiar with various spectrographic instrumentation, but Alberto and Mikko are far more familiar. Peters (Head of Assay Office of Latvia) is also giving you very solid advice.

I asked you where you got your gemological training for a reason. It will help us understand why some of the topics you are asking about were not covered in your studies.


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:47 am 
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Hi,
I will try to answer short,
- Cu turmaline - UV-VIS or XRF gives analytical information about Cu,
- Amethyst - there is no scientific way to make difference;
- Rubellite - as with amethyst;
- synthetic Ruby - there are small differences in FTIR, UV-VIS and XRF, but none conclusive test alone, the microscope could be the best test, for small clean stones - XRF.

As you see, even full list didn't solve all problems, have seen people using NMR, SIMS, but LA-ICP-MS, mCT, TOF, EDX, SEM, LIBS are routine for big lab...

If you have 5000 USD, i will advise. to wait for MAGI EXA (very soon must be ready for introduction, we use it for 3 m... impressive small gadget), you will be able to identify most important stones, make difference between natural and synthetic diamond, but still need to have general gemological knowledge and instruments.


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:10 am 
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Dear Barbara!
I finished my gemology courses in Russia in Moscow State University 5 years ago, since that I trained a lot, had a great teacher chemist and gemologist and for two years I'm working as a practicing gemologist for myself.
You should know, that on the gem courses you haven't got a good course how to operate Raman or FTIR, the only place where you can teach it is laboratory if you are hired worker or by yourself.
You wrote me: I have owned and operated my GemmoRaman for several years in my lab, San Francisco Gem Lab. I'm very familiar with various spectrographic instrumentation. If its true, you SHOULD know, that from the Data which gives Raman and Pl it is possible to know much more than just identify what stone you work with! Or you want to say you can't see using Raman the presence of Cr in the mineral, for example??? I'm just trying to understand my opportunities working with Raman and using common spectrometer. If you could help me in this question, I will be very grateful!


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:21 am 
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Hi, Peters!
I definitely use all standard methods and have all equipment for it, but I was thinking about any spectrometer, which can give me a bit more information about stones In identifying and to have opportunity to be armed for difficult cases. Beside this I think its not serious at all to make a conclusion for a gem report (certificate ) without using instrumental methods..


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 Post subject: Re: Instrumental methods or what to choose for a small lab?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:28 am 
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Could you tell me, on what principe does MAGI EXA work?
And what tasks it will decide?


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