Abstract

Conflict diamonds, those that are traded by rebel groups to fund wars against legitimate governments, have been a problem of grave concern in the international diamond industry since before 2000. Although procedural efforts such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme exist, fingerprinting of diamonds - i.e., the scientific discrimination of diamonds by source - has been suggested as a potential solution to halt the flow of conflict diamonds. Combined physical (morphological) and chemical studies on ten parcels of gem-quality diamonds from African alluvial and kimberlitic sources are presented here. Nitrogen contents and aggregation states were determined from Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy; Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry was utilized for selected trace element concentrations. It is evident that only a few elements are consistently enriched in significant quantities, and that it is possible that the elements that were not detected in the parcels may form more of a significant discriminatory tool. Although subtle differences between parcels (and areas of origin) are evident, the intrinsic heterogeneous nature of diamonds, particularly those that are gem-quality, creates difficulties with scientific fingerprinting as a mechanism to discriminate diamonds.

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