Method to Characterize Cut Gemstones

Available Technologies
February 2, 2017 By Applied Innovation

At A Glance

The invention uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) to create a three-dimensional map of cut gemstones, both loose and in settings. This map will inform gemologists about the location and characteristics of defects, as well as more accurately measure the weight of cut gemstones that are analyzed in their settings. This information can be used to accurately determine the overall quality and monetary value of cut gemstones.


• 3D mapping precisely locates and characterizes defects

• Stones can remain in setting, eliminating any potential damages when removed

Technology Description



Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an optical technique used to create high-resolution, 3D images of the internal structure of objects that scatter light. Although the primary focus of OCT has been in biomedical applications, this technique has the broader potential to image any optically scattering object. UCI inventors have created an OCT-based imaging system that collects high-resolution, 3D images of cut gemstones in order to precisely analyze characteristics such as overall quality, defects, and weight – considerations in determining a gemstone’s market value. The technique does not damage gemstones, and they may be left in their settings, decreasing the potential for damage to stones and settings. This system also provides an option to immerse the gemstone in a refractive, index-matched nanoparticle-containing media, using its reflective properties to circumvent signal losses (these signal losses are due to internal reflections of the incident OCT light within the gemstones).

Suggested Use

Three-dimensional mapping of cut gemstones to accurately assess value.

State of Development

A prototype of the imaging system has been assembled and initial, high-resolution 3D maps have been collected on different types of cut gemstones. Additional software to calculate gemstone weight is currently under development.

Patent Status: Patent pending.

About the Lead Inventor

This technology comes from Dr. Matthew Brenner at the UCI School of Medicine and co-inventors Zhongping Chen, PhD professor Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Beckman Laser Institute, and Sari Mahon, PhD, project scientist at the Beckman Laser Institute. Brenner’s research focuses on laser optical diagnostics for pulmonary applications, including high resolution optical coherence tomography imaging and frequency domain photon migration-diffuse optical spectroscopy diagnostics for critical care.

Licensing Officer: Alvin Viray | Email:

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