The Gübelin Gem Lab, a leader in the analysis of precious gemstones, has launched its Emerald Paternity Test and Gemfields has become a test partner for a pioneering new nanotechnology that enables traceability of emeralds back to the exact place of mining.
This new technology uses customised DNA-based nanoparticles enabling traceability of emeralds back to the exact place of mining.
The AIM-listed Gemfields owns 75% of the Kagem emerald mine in Lufwanyama, Zambia.
According to Gubelin Gem Lab, Gemfields the majority owner of Kagem, the world’s largest emerald mine and robust supply chain and established standards of responsible sourcing were chosen to help provide the testing conditions for the technology in the field.
The company says the Emerald Paternity Test is a true game-changer for the coloured gemstone industry.
“It is the first of a series of technologies and services developed by Gübelin Gem Lab dedicated to bringing more transparency into the gemstone industry, united under the Provenance Proof label.”
In addition, the breakthrough technology uses DNA-based nanoparticles that are applied directly at the mine, onto the rough emerald crystals.
It is also developed specifically to survive the usual procedures, which an emerald undergoes before reaching the end consumer (such as cleaning, cutting, polishing, transportation, setting), the nanoparticles can be retrieved and decoded at any stage along the supply chain.
“This technology offers all stakeholders along the entire supply chain, from the miner to the final customers, proof of the exact source of emeralds. It enables a new level of transparency for the gemstone trade,” said Daniel Nyfeler, MD of Gübelin Gem Lab.
He said the technology offers miners (both big corporate and cooperatives of small and artisanal miners), governments, trade organisations, industry watchdogs, jewellery brands and final customers a completely new level of transparency when sourcing emeralds, instilling confidence and creating trust.
Though Gübelin Gem Lab invited Gemfields, a producer of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones, to join the project as a test partner, the technology is a first in the industry.
This is the first time nanotechnology – the branch of technology that deals with dimensions of less than 100 nanometres – has been used in such context.
The size of these particles makes them invisible to optical microscopes, therefore not affecting the appearance, quality and properties of the stone whatsoever.
“Partnering with Gemfields for the feasibility study was an obvious choice, as it is not only an industry leader, but a forward thinking company, and hence a perfect partner to test a ground-breaking idea such as this paternity test for emeralds.”
Adding his sentiments Ian Harebottle, Chief Executive Officer of, Gemfields, said: “Embracing innovation, technology and increased transparency is at the heart of our approach. We were therefore thrilled to assist Gübelin in the testing of this new technology and we are very excited about the outcome as it offers a multitude of benefits to the industry and the consumer.”
“As part of our over 160 year tradition it has always been our target to provide the consumer with the most relevant information possible. This new technology will bring transparency to the industry in a complete new way,” said Raphael Gübelin, president of the Swiss family-run business, of which the laboratory is a fully independent subsidiary.