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Home Uzbekistan Technologies Gemstone Coloration by Neutron and Gamma-Irradiation for Jewelry

Gemstone Coloration by Neutron and Gamma-Irradiation for Jewelry

Description


Fig. 1 Variety of brightly colored gems
obtained by the gamma-irradiation
without radioactivity of the natural
pale beryl raw (left of the center).

Since brightly colored precious gemstones are met more seldom in the nature, and the demand for them is growing stably, there were developed several techniques for coloration of pale natural raw stones, which are based on thermal diffusion of coloring impurities into crystals or radiation induced generation of color centers. Disadvantages are non-homogeneous coloration over the volume (less cm), instability to bright illumination and induced radioactivity.

Basing on the patent obtained in 1988 at the Institute of Nuclear Physics AS RU, there has been developed the improved industrial technology for coloration of white topaz into light, medium and deep blue colors with fast neutrons and gamma-radiation of the nuclear reactor.

Main parameters:

  • Gemstone sizes - to 5 cm;
  • Radiation treatment yield (up to a standard) > 90%;
  • Productivity – up to 200 kg for Sky and Baby Blue, to 100 kg for Swiss and London Blue color standards;
  • Color stability to light and heat to 1500C > 95%;
  • Production cycle – ageing for 1-2 years after the irradiation down to the safe level 20 Bq/gram.

Besides there has been elaborated the technology for coloration of pale beryl with the gamma-radiation of 60-Co or shutdown reactor, not inducing any radioactivity in materials. Depending on the irradiation conditions and chemical composition of raw gemstones, it is possible to obtain a broad color variety of yellow, green, blue hues.

Main parameters:

  • Gemstone sizes - to 20 cm;
  • Radiation treatment yield (up to a standard) > 90%;
  • Productivity – up to 100 kg for yellow, to 50 kg for green and Blue color standards;
  • Color stability to light and heat to

Innovative Aspect and Main Advantages

For the first time the technology department has been established at the research nuclear reactor for alternative commercial services on ennobling both topaz and beryl, that allows using the reactor at the maximal efficiency, by including prophylactic shutdown periods. The total productivity may reach to 300 kg of gemstones per month and about 4 tons a year.

Comparing with the electron and diffusion techniques, the developed technologies based on the INP reactor have the following advantaged:

  • Homogeneity of the color over the volume of a few cm;
  • Stability to the bright illumination;
  • No limit for the jewelry stone size;
  • No risk of stone cracking due to their overheating;
  • Obtaining saturated intensive colors.

Areas of Application

World jewelry market researches and test irradiations of the natural non-conditional raw have shown high economy efficiency (profitability) of the radiation technologies of topaz and beryl coloration. They are already implemented at the enterprises of jewelry and mining industries for improving the quality and value of the raw and cut gemstones in a few times.


Fig. 2 Deep (London), medium (Swiss) and light (Baby or Sky)
blue colors obtained by the reactor irradiation of the natural white
cut topaz gemstones.

Stage of Development

The improved industrial technology for coloration of white topaz into light, medium and deep blue colors in the reactor has been commercialized. The contract is being carried down with Zimmermann BCS company on treatment of 6 tons of topaz.

The technology has been elaborated for coloration of pale beryl with the shutdown reactor gamma-radiation. Testing irradiations of the raw have been done to estimate the productivity. The equipment of the technological department meets the requirements of radiation safety and maintenance with precious gemstones. There have been organized 30 sustainable jobs.

Contact Details

Institute of Nuclear Physics
Ulugbek, 100214, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Contact person: Elvira Ibragimova
Tel.: (+998 71) 289 3354
Fax: (+998 71) 150 3070
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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