Detecting That Unhealthy Glow

May 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:Gemology

Detecting That Unhealthy Glow

'Who ya gonna call?' AGTA will market an affordable device to sniff out gemstone radiation

A portable and inexpensive device to measure gemstone radiation will be available soon through the American Gem Trade Association.

AGTA commissioned member Owen Bordelon to develop the device, called GEMAlert, to fill a gap between what had been available on the low end of the market and the very sophisticated and expensive equipment on the other end.

This means the nasty irradiated cat's-eye chrysoberyls that threw the Far East into conniptions a few months ago could finally meet their equal. Ditto for other gems that may contain invisible but harmful radiation – including treated topaz, diamond and red tourmaline – and naturally radioactive gems such as green zircon.

Bordelon says GEMAlert can scrutinize parcels of gems quickly, is 1,000 times more sensitive than typical survey-type counters (such as Geiger counters) and can measure all forms of ionizing radiation (including ground and ambient radiation). This last point means users will be able to calculate the ground-level radiation and subtract it from the total for an accurate reading on gemstone radiation (most conventional detectors measure only specific rays, such as gamma rays).

GEMAlert will come with computer software running on DOS, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. The software is designed to compute and display measurements in average micro-Roentgen per hour on a scrolling bar graph. You can select measurement periods from 10 seconds to several hours.

Included will be an explanation of how gemstone radiation levels compare with other forms of radiation and what levels are considered acceptable.

AGTA plans to sell the instruments for about $800 each. For informa tion about GEMAlert, call Bordelon at (504) 368-GEMS or AGTA at (214) 742-4367.

A prototype GEMAlert was on display at the Gemstone Enhancement Information Booth at the AGTA GemFair in February. AGTA has established a budget for the development of more instruments designed to help gem dealers and jewelry retailers.

by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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