Since we’re on a bit of a diamond kick lately, I thought I’d talk about colored diamonds next in our series on gemstones. Almost everyone knows about a colorless diamond. But did you know that diamonds come in all shades of the rainbow? It’s true. “How?” you ask. Well we’ll talk about that today, as well as what makes one color over another more valuable.
First, let’s dispel some myths. Colored diamonds are real diamonds. Hands down. They’re made in the earth’s crust just as colorless diamonds are. Except that there are certain elements (as in the elemental chart that none of us can remember after learning it in chemistry back in high school) in the area that mix with the carbon to create various colors. We’ll talk about what gets mixed to create each color below. But worry not, they are real in every sense of the word. And valuable. Some folks think that because a diamond has some color to it, it’s not worth as much. Let’s keep in mind that the Oppenheimer Blue just sold at auction for THE MOST EVER of any gemstone at auction. So, yes. They can be very valuable.
Ok, moving on to the various colors.
What makes a blue diamond blue? The answer: boron. When a blue diamond is being formed, the boron bonds with the carbon creating an environment where red, yellow and green light is absorbed, and therefore blue light is reflected back at us.
Pink And Red Diamonds
Red and pink colored diamonds are formed a little differently from the blue diamonds. While the diamond is still in the earth’s crust, intense pressure and heat cause the crystal lattice in these stones to distort and absorb a certain band of green light rays, throwing the pinks and reds back at us.
Yellow And Orange Diamonds
Yellow and orange diamonds, depending on the color, can be some of the most sought after stones, due to their unique intense hues. The nitrogen atoms within the stone are the culprit here. The nitrogen atoms have assembled themselves in such a way that the blue light is absorbed and the yellows and oranges are reflected back out.
Green diamonds are not as popular at the moment, so we haven’t seen them at auction and in the news like their pink and blue counterparts. But then again, these trends come and go. They start their lives as a colorless diamond, but just as they are exiting the earth’s crust, they encounter and absorb natural occurring radiation within the soil, which gives them their reflective properties.
Violet and Purple Diamonds
These are arguably some of the most rare of all colored diamonds. Pure fancy purple diamonds are very rare and hard to find. These colored diamonds are divided into two main categories: violet diamonds, which lean towards the blue-grey spectrum; and purple diamonds, whose hues are reddish pink. Pure violet with no secondary hue almost never occurs in nature, and when it does, these diamonds appear only in small sizes. Even though this is very rare, it is not considered as rare as fancy red diamonds and fancy blue diamonds. While it’s long been thought that the purple and violet colors are simply a product of lattice distortion, it’s recently been suggested that the hues could also be attributed to the presence of hydrogen.
Natural brown diamonds are the most common type of diamond that exists. They experienced an uptick in popularity only when the Argyle mine in Australia orchestrated a large-scale advertising campaign with the objective of changing the perception of brown diamonds in the marketplace during the 1980s and early 1990s. LeVian is another group that created a catchy marketing campaign around brown diamonds, likening them to chocolate. Up until the re-marketing of these diamonds, they were typically considered to only be good for industrial cutting and were not found in wearable fashions. That said, there are some gorgeous shades of champagne and brown diamonds and a few notable large fancy vivid stone finds in recent years.
If you’re like us and you to geek out on knowledge about these things, there’s a great Kindle e-book called The Definitive Guide to Colored Diamonds: From Pink Diamonds to Yellow Diamonds and All the Colors in Between that can give you even more information on colored diamonds. We’ve only scratched the tip of the culet (sorry – jeweler humor) for you here today.
What color is your favorite? Do you own a colored diamond? If so, in what color? We’d love to hear about it and see a picture in the comments below.