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Kazan learned to make diamonds in lab – jewellers shocked

13 june 2012

In the nearest future, Tatarstan may witness the appearance of a new brand, ‘Kazan Polished Diamonds,’ according to Oleg Lopatin, Associate Professor of the Mineralogy and Petrography Chair at the Institute of Geology, and Rustem Haibullin, Senior Researcher of the Radiation Physics Laboratory at the Kazan Institute of Physics and Technology, found out how to convert ordinary minerals into precious gems increasing their value hundreds of times by way of adding fashionable hues to their natural color.

The idea to colour minerals struck Oleg Lopatin and Rustem Haibullin, his former schoolmate, when the two friends met in one of the Kazan cafes.

“Its implementation took us as long as 15 years,” Oleg recollects. “We started from producing rubies. We took pure aluminum oxide at the price of one rouble per tonne, exposed it to radiation in the accelerator and obtained rubies and sapphires. In real natural conditions, it would take millions of years for minerals to form, but we found out how to make them within 10 to 15 minutes! And experts have never put the original nature of our gems in doubt.”

However, the researcher achieved fantastic results in processing diamonds. It is known that colored diamonds are very rare (one per million) and are highly valued in the gem market: a one carat diamond may reach up to one million dollars in price. The prime cost of a polished diamond made in Kazan is equal to the cost of power consumed and substances and materials used.

“So far, we have learned how to achieve golden and black hues in diamonds,” Oleg Lopatin says. “At present, we are working on polychromatic polished diamonds, that is we want to colour a gem stone in several hues. For example, we make the top of a polished diamond dark blue and the lower part of it red.”

To color precious gems the researchers use an ion-beam accelerator in the Kazan Institute of Physics and Technology.

“This facility could be called the great-grandfather of the Large Hadron Collider,” Oleg Lopatin jokes. “The unique feature of the Kazan accelerator is its ability to cover the whole Periodic Table of Mendeleyev.”