How 3D Diamond Scanners Work

9 June, 2016

Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time here talking about 3D CAD as it applies to precious metal working. We’ve also talked about the rapid advances of 3D scanning and how it gets more valuable to CAD jewellers every year.

But how does 3D scanning apply to gemstones?

3D Scan of a Diamond using OGI Systems Scanox Tender (image courtesy Liebish and Co.)
3D Scan of a Diamond using OGI Systems Scanox Tender mini (image courtesy Leibish and Co.)

The world of 3D diamond scanning and mapping is a parallel road of development in 3D scanning technology, but with its unique combination of specialised scanning setup and pattern recognition software, it’s as fascinating to see in action as any kind of 3D scanner on the market. (Video after the break.)

3D Diamond Scanning in Action

The purpose of 3D diamond scanners it to use specialised 3D scanning technology and specialised plotting software to find the optimal amount of rough gemstone material inside the raw piece of scanned mineral.

Here is the OGI Systems 3D Viewer in action:

The diamond is placed on a rotating platform inside a closed chamber. A live camera feed is then passed to the software, which analyses the crystal structure of the gemstone for information such as inclusions and the direction of cleavage. From there, it makes calculations as to ways to facet the stone to get the most gemstone out of the piece of rough.

OGI Systems produce several scanners at different sizes and levels of power, suitable for diamond dealers at many stages of the diamond polishing and grading process from rough dealers down to fine jewellers.

What Happens Next

Once the stone’s ideal cut has been determined from the rough, the stone is then cut using a series of different types of cutters (both laser cutting and traditional hand lapidary tools).

The whole cutting process works like this:

Following mapping information from the scanner, the lapidary technicians do rough laser sawing with specialised laser diamond cutting equipment. These pieces are then passed over to the hand lappers for faceting, who use classic lapidary wheels to work their artistry on the stones.

It is interesting to see that, no matter how technology advances, some processes remain too fiddly and rely too much on the aesthetic judgement of a trained eye to be fully automated.


Jack Meyer

Bespoke jewellery designer, and specialist in jewellery CAD/CAM and emergent technologies that affect jewellery.

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