Quantitative analysis of trace element concentrations in some gem-quality diamonds

J. McNeill, D. G. Pearson, O. Klein-Bendavid, G. M. Nowell, C. J. Ottley, I. Chinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The geochemical signature of diamond-forming fluids can be used to unravel diamond-forming processes and is of potential use in the detection of so-called 'conflict' diamonds. While fluid-rich fibrous diamonds can be analyzed by a variety of techniques, very few data have been published for fluid-poor, gem-quality diamonds because of their very low impurity levels. Here we present a new ICPMS-based (ICPMS: inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) method for the analysis of trace element concentrations within fluid-poor, gem-quality diamonds. The method employs a closed-system laser ablation cell. Diamonds are ablated and the products trapped for later pre-concentration into solutions that are analyzed by sector-field ICPMS. We show that our limits of quantification for a wide range of elements are at the sub-pg to low pg level. The method is applied to a suite of 10 diamonds from the Cullinan Mine (previously known as Premier), South Africa, along with other diamonds from Siberia (Mir and Udachnaya) and Venezuela. The concentrations of a wide range of elements for all the samples (expressed by weight in the solid) are very low, with rare earth elements along with Y, Nb, Cs ranging from 0.01 to 2ppb. Large ion lithophile elements (LILE) such as Rb and Ba vary from 1 to 30ppb. Ti ranges fromppb levels up to 2ppm. From the combined, currently small data set we observe two kinds of diamond-forming fluids within gem diamonds. One group has enrichments in LILE over Nb, whereas a second group has normalized LILE abundances more similar to those of Nb. These two groups bear some similarity to different groups of fluid-rich diamonds, providing some supporting evidence of a link between the parental fluids for both fluid-inclusion-rich and gem diamonds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number364207
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number36
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative analysis of trace element concentrations in some gem-quality diamonds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this