It is Friday! We're back to our usual wintry-weather here in Seattle (far cry from the rest of the US, I know), so time for a warm cup of coffee and the weekly updates!
First up - the blog may go without updates during part or all of July.
Why? Well, I've been summoned for the second time in 2 years for Jury duty in Superior court in Seattle..which means the potential for up to one month, where I am forced to spend two hours per day commuting to downtown Seattle, and spend all day slaving at the courthouse. Fortunately, for all this disruption to BTD, RingExplorer and Amora Gem, and the loss of income, I will be compensated with a grand sum of… $10/day…or not enough to even cover my lunch and gas each day.
And they say indentured servitude was made illegal in the US, and we have minimum wage laws now? Actually, we do - in WA state it's $9.04 *per hour*, but the state courts can pay effectively $1.25/hour. I feel like running an ad for a job where I will offer $10/day total payment, or $1.25/hour, and see how fast the state govt comes after me for violating wage laws..and then point out that I'm just doing what the govt is doing to me, except at least my job offer is voluntary and not forced
Anyway, we'll see what happens here - it may end up as nothing (the night before they actually confirm if they *really* need you or not…nice lead time), or may be a huge disruption, but just wanted to give notice if suddenly Fridays start arriving and the blog goes silent…it may be b/c I'm sequestered in a hotel somewhere until the case completes.The Gem Updates: 5 weeks and counting… :
The countdown for the US patent situation continues - CTHR as noted has until July 30 to respond or else lose their US patent. Nothing yet on their end at this point.Canadian patent situation:
The next update on the Canadian patent won't be until August or September, once their 3 person committee makes the determination whether BTD has presented enough evidence to proceed with a full re-exam. Another Mr. Robot coming:
Based on the likelihood of the US market opening up by 2013, we're currently pricing out a second Mr. Robot to help increase production to meet demand. Will you have a large marketing launch for Amora Gem?
To answer a question that was posted earlier, we have no plans for a big marketing splash at launch. The first and overriding concern is simply being able to produce enough to meet current demand, so we're not interested in trying to further demand for what will be a relatively scarce product initially. Based on some conversations with resellers, we've already had at least one offer to have our entire monthly supply purchased up front for another country, so as noted, the concern right now is purely on meeting existing demand.Will you be improving the Amora Gem over time?
Another question that came up - the answer is effectively no, as there really nothing to improve. The only thing that may change before launch is we may very well end up at E color rather than F. The initial R&D pieces were F, but bordering right on E…so it's possible it may end up at E color but that will be finalized before the first Amora Gems are sold and will not change once we start production. Beyond that…there's really nothing left to improve - it's an amazing crystal and no real 'tinkering' options are there, kind of like there's really nothing to improve about diamond.BTD General updates:DiamondBistro upgraded and moving to a new server!
This week we upgraded DiamondBistro's software to the latest version, and are literally moving DiamondBistro to a new and more powerful 'cloud' server today. Note that you will not be able to place new classified listings until the move is finished as we try and prevent new listings from being placed on the old server until the new servers takes over tomorrow.
Once we get everything settled in on the new server, we'll be moving to a new paid listing process where listings will then cost .99cents per listing. Hopefully this will generate enough revenue to transition DiamondBistro from a long time money loser to at least break even or ideally profitable concern.RingExplorer close to alpha launch (July):
We've made significant improvements to RingExplorer the past few weeks, and last week one of the main features has finalized.
This is the ability for you to readily favorite a ring or band of interest, which saves it to your 'unfiled' category in your account. From there, you can assign to your own custom category such as 'my pave ring' and thus readily save and organize rings of interest as you browse/shop.
This is done by clicking the heart icon on any ring or band as shown by the blue arrow:
And after that, if an item is in your favorites it will display a 'heart+' icon to let you know it's already in your favorites:
You can as noted, assign items to your own custom categories for organizing your favorites, but we'll do those screenshots next week to explain that in more detail.
We also have nearly completed adding all of JamesAllen.com's rings, and are now in the process of adding in Zoara.com's and D.NeaDiamond's rings in prep for the alpha launch in July.
Effectively, we hope to have over 1,000 rings already in the system for the alpha launch, and 2,000 rings by the main launch in the Fall.
I'll do a more detailed breakout next week to show off all the new features and abilities of RingExplorer, but a quick comparative story to show the progress.
About two months ago I asked my wife to take a look at RingExplorer to see what she thought. She spent about one minute on it and then said 'great concept, needs a ton of work'….
By comparison, I asked her to take a look last week - the result was 15 minutes of browsing, favoriting multiple rings she liked and a summary of 'needs a bit more polish but otherwise great'. So, we've really come a long ways the past two months, and I'm looking forward for you to be able to start playing with it in early July.Misc:
I was planning to get into the first part of gems and color today under the continuing fundamentals of matter, but I'll push that off for next week. The reason is so that we can go over information on hardness as it relates to Amora Gem and gems in general, since it's pretty common that I see incorrect info based on misunderstandings being bantered about.
So, hardness - what is it? Hardness is basically the strength of atomic bonding of a material and as a result, it's ability to resist displacement by an exterior force.
For gems, unfortunately, most people still rely on the Mohs scale popularized by Friedrich Mohs in the early 1800's. This was basically a standardization of what miners were using, namely using different materials to see what scratched what as a quick way to id rocks in the field.
Now, no one in materials science uses such an incredibly crude scale or testing method to determine hardness anymore, but in the gem world, it lives on as 'the measure' of hardness, I guess because of it's simplicity and since most gemologists don't have access to more advanced tools that materials scientist use.
The Mohs scale basically assigns round numbers to a set of common materials, where by each higher number simply means it can scratch the materials lower than it. However, this leads to people thinking that if something is a 5 on the Mohs scale, that it is 50% as hard as diamond (10), which is not correct. The numbers in fact have no relative scale between them other than simply 'harder', which is why no one in materials science would use it. Thus, you can't do math on the numbers and arrive at any relative percentage comparison.
You can see the somewhat exponential curve on the chart below and how the scale changes non-linearly and erratically between the numbers:
Thus, you can't do any kind of math between numbers and arrive at much other than simply that, higher numbers are harder than lower numbers.
So, what do we use at BTD then to measure hardness? The latest and greatest - nano-indentation testing, courtesy of a major university. A very precise diamond tip is steadily pushed into the material in question with a specific amount of pressure, and after that, a near atomic level measurement is used to see how much the material was displaced. This is then repeated typically ten times (each time on a fresh area), and the results are then averaged to come up with the hardness, which is measure in GPa (Giga-Pascals).
Or in more precise detail:
" The Nanoindenter XP (MTS Systems Corporation, Oak Ridge TN) system is used in measuring the hardness and modulus of prepared samples. It is run by Continuous Stiffness Measurement(CSM) mode.The system was calibrated by using fused silica samples for a range of operating conditions before the experiments with the samples. A Berkovich diamond indenter with total included angle of 142.3º was used for all the measurements. The maximum indentation depth was 500 nm. The data set was processed using the proprietary software (TestWorks 4, MTS Systems Corporation) to produce load-displacement curves, and the mechanical properties were calculated using the Oliver and Pharr method."
As you can see, just a touch more sophisticated than the "this can scratch that" Mohs type measurement developed in the early 1800's
The resulting scale from nano-indentation is thus one that *is* exactly relative and you can do the type of match between measurements. So how do things layout on this more accurate scale?
Diamond = 80-100+ GPa
Cubic Boron Nitride = 50 GPa
Amora Gem = 38 GPa
Sapphire = 30 GPa
Tool steel = 7-9 GPa (8.8 is standard reference)
Copper = 2 GPa
Aluminum = .25 GPa
Most materials in our daily lives are 10GPa or lower, as you can see above, and in this case, Amora Gem is readily 4x harder than tool steel, which is really hard stuff already.
Sapphire is roughly the 3rd hardest gem, and in the top 5 hardest bulk materials on the planet, but you can also see Diamond is still 3-3.5X harder. (Not 7x harder though…ahem
Note that diamond's hardness varies depending on
a)what plane you are testing…diamond actually has multiple growth planes where the 100 plane is the hardest, and 111, etc. are not quite as hard) and
b)what level of purity…the purer it is, the harder it is on average, and
c)how it was grown - plasma/CVD grown diamonds are normally much harder vs. natural or HPHT grown, and
d)whether it has had HPHT post-growth treatment. Some HPHT treated diamonds have been shown to have crazy jumps to 100-160GPa, or in the extreme, nearly 60% harder than a regular diamond!
Moissanite is right around the Amora Gem level, with variations based on who grew it, and whether it was Amora-ized or not (roughly 1.5% increase in hardness if so).
I don't actually know where CZ fits in exactly, as we haven't tested it nor have I seen anyone test it. My guess would be something like 25GPa. Assuming that is reasonable, then Amora Gem would be approximately 52% harder than CZ.
The summary to all this though, is that scratching is really not a concern for Amora Gem, much like Moissanite rarely if ever has any scratching issues.
More importantly though, hopefully you now have a better understanding of the limitations of the Mohs scale, and a better relative sense of hardness from the GPa scale.
Next week - look for a bevy of screenshots on RingExplorer as we move towards the alpha launch, and hopefully another episode explaing why colorless gems are …colorless (what is happening atomically).
Lastly - little astronomy factoid - hopefully this weekend you'll be enjoying some sunshine, but interesting to note - the sunshine hitting your face today, was actually born roughly 100,000 years ago.
While it only takes 8 seconds for photons (light) to leave the sun and make it's way to earth (light travels incredibly fast), they are actually created deep inside the sun where the fusion occurs, and it takes them literally 100,000 years on average to make their way to the surface and head to Earth…so now you can impress everyone at the beach with your knowledge of sunshine
Have a great weekend!