For centuries people have experimented with different methods to draw out the perfect colour and sparkle of gems; new ways of cutting, new ways of treating, new processes to achieve the highest quality of each gem. Historically, the most common form of treating was by fire and heat, but as science developed, so too have the technologies, in the desire to replicate nature’s gradual processes. For decades Ostro Minerals has pioneered the way in developing the latest and most sophisticated technologies to enhance the natural beauty of each gemstone; these methods include irradiation, as is often used today to sterilise food and medical products, as well as for treating advanced materials.

In the early 1980’s, Maurice and his father started working with the University of Missouri Research Reactor in Columbia, Missouri. This led to them working with Professor William Yelon who to this day has been leading on the research and development for the company. Professor Yelon has also led on the compliance with the regulatory requirements for treated gemstones as mandated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In 2006 when concerns were raised about companies distributing gemstones without an NRC distribution license, Maurice and his father Max were at the forefront of bringing together the NRC and key industry representatives. The Ostros responded to those discussions by working with Professor Yelon to create Ideal Source Quality Assurance (ISQA) which was licensed by the NRC to certify the sale and distribution of topaz in the USA. This was then followed by other companies in the industry applying for similar licenses.

Whilst initially ISQA only provided this service for Ostro gems, in 2020 following a multitude of requests for certification services, Ostro and Yelon expanded ISQA’s license to offer NRC certification to third party companies for Topaz, Morganite and Diamonds. Recognising the importance of safety and of consumer confidence, the ISQA distribution license can provide assurance that tested gemstones will meet the NRC’s requirements for distribution in the USA.

The Team

Professor William Yelon

Professor Yelon has been working with research reactors, radioactive sources and measuring low-level radiation since 1970.  He received his BA in Physics from Haverford College and his PhD in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University. Yelon is the author or co-author of about 350 refereed publications as well as numerous book chapters. He is the Manager and Radiation Safety Officer of ISQA.

Bruce Alspaugh

Bruce is a certified Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) recognised by the NRC. He completed his RSO training in 2015, and passed the exam with the highest score ever achieved at the time of his assessment. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and worked for three years at the MURR (University of Missouri Research Reactor).

For queries, please email ISQA@ostro.com