Laser marking by University of Oxford spinout transforms diamond security

29th May 2018 - 12:00 BST

Opsydia, a spinout from the University of Oxford, has unveiled ground-breaking new technology that will help address the risk of tampering and counterfeiting in the diamond sector.

Using high precision lasers, Opsydia can make tiny marks, less than 1/50th of the size of a human hair, below the surface of diamonds. Unlike current industry standard security marking on the diamond surface, these marks sit within the stone so cannot be polished off economically. Also, they can be so small that they have no effect on the grading or quality of the gems.

"Opsydia can make tiny marks, less than 1/50th of the size of a human hair, below the surface of diamonds"

The transformational technology is being adopted by one of the world’s leading diamond groups, De Beers Group, as part of its new lab-grown diamond initiative, Lightbox Jewelry. The subsurface laser marks both prevent the stones used in the jewellery from being passed off as natural, and serve as a guarantee of quality.

Opsydia is confident that its laser marking can be adopted more widely in the jewellery industry to increase security and confidence in the quality and provenance of stones.

Developed within the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, Opsydia’s technology uses laser pulses shorter than one trillionth of a second in length, shot over a million times per second, to create tiny lines which can be written as numbers or logos within the diamond. These are invisible to the human eye, but can be viewed via a microscope. This means security can be maintained even when gems are mounted in jewellery.

"De Beers has announced today that Opsydia’s processes are being adopted for its new business"

Working with Oxford University Innovation (OUI) to develop the business, Opsydia has secured £1.9 million of funding through OSI and Parkwalk. The University of Oxford and the founders, Professor Martin Booth and Dr Patrick Salter, remain significant shareholders.

“Our laser technology can transform security in the diamond industry and support industry initiatives to prevent counterfeiting and tampering,” said Andrew Rimmer, CEO of Opsydia: “Following the investment from our shareholders, we have a process that works today on an industrial scale. We expect to be able to deliver systems to operators in the diamond industry within months, allowing us to move swiftly to profitability.”

De Beers has announced today that Opsydia’s processes are being adopted for its new business focused on laboratory-grown diamonds, Lightbox Jewelry.

Said Steve Coe of Lightbox: “We are pleased to partner with Opsydia in the use of this exciting new technology. This internal laser marking technology will provide a robust means for the simple, visual identification of the stones in Lightbox Jewelry as being laboratory grown, while at the same time providing assurance to consumers that this product has been manufactured to high standards by a world leader in this field.”

Opsydia’s technology can also be used to securely mark any translucent material, such as plastics and polymers, and the company also envisages future applications writing electrical circuits within industrial diamond to create advanced sensors.

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Press contact: Jason Nisse, The Nisse Consultancy 07769 688618 jason@nisse.uk

About Opsydia: Opsydia is a spin-out company from the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. We are specialists in designing bespoke optical systems and laser fabrication processes for complex and unique ideas. Utilising our decades of cutting-edge photonics research and extensive industrial experience, we perform otherwise impossible materials processing tasks.