UWE Researcher wins research grant to grow bespoke crystals

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Image of grown crystal

Imagine being able to grow your own gemstones?  Well Research Associate, Sofie Boons, from the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol has been awarded a research grant from DAAD to try and work out how to grow innovative bespoke crystals for jewellery designers and wider applications in industry. 

Man-made crystals already drive innovations in a range of industries, however they have not yet been adopted by the world-wide jewellery industry which is fearful of a significant disruption to the market by these ‘fakes’.

Sofie will work in collaboration with the Trier University of Applied Sciences, Department of Gemstones and Jewellery in Idar-Oberstein and Electro-Optics Technology Inc to explore the unique possibilities that these new materials provide beyond imitation. She will undertake tests on the viability, limitations and use of innovative and experimentally grown crystals in the production of a range of contemporary jewellery.

As world-wide pressure increases due to a reduced supply of mined gemstones, the environmental damages due to mining, increased competition from countries with lower labour costs and an increase in research, investment and skills being applied to the enhancement and innovation of grown crystals in other industries this is a perfect time to undertake this research so the jewellery industry can take advantage of the opportunities bespoke man-made crystals could offer to support the move to specialist and innovative designs, which the area is currently making. 

With sustainability becoming more and more important to consumers and industry, the potential environmental benefits man-made gemstones provide; their traceability and the transparent labour practices involved, should be of huge value around the world.

Dr. Daniel Rytz from Electro-Optics Technology Inc describes the research as being an ‘opportunity for innovation, which in turn could lead to benefits for the wider jewellery industry’.


About the partners:

Electro-Optics Technology (EOTech) has been producing components for manufacturers worldwide since 1987. EOTech designs, grows, and fabricates laser crystals for the world’s leading laser manufacturers. EOTech’s high quality standard in manufacturing laser and nonlinear crystals are the result of intensive research and development activities to improve crystal growth processes and develop new materials. 

Trier University of Applied Sciences – Dept. of Gemstones and Jewellery in Idar-Oberstein is unique in the world for its specialisation in gemstones. Its studios, extensive library and connections with the industry in Idar-Oberstein, in addition to its key role in the global contemporary jewellery field through for example its bi-annual Schmuck Denken (Thinking Jewellery) symposium, places it at the forefront of gemstone research.

About the funder:

Deutscher Akademisher Austauschdienst (DAAD) (German Academic Exchange Service) is the world’s largest funding organisation for the international exchange of students and researchers. Change by exchange is the motto of the DAAD. Exchange promotes understanding between countries and individuals and helps secure the peace. New scientific findings enable us to meet global challenges. Cooperation contributes to political and social progress. Change by exchange is our contribution to shaping a global society that finds solutions to the pressing issues of tomorrow.