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Can Natural Diamonds Be Different Colors?

Yes, natural diamonds can come in a wide array of colors, each with its unique origins. From the common yellows and browns to the rare blues, pinks, and even blacks, these colors arise from factors like chemical impurities, structural defects, and exposure to radiation.

Yellow and Brown Diamonds

These are the most common naturally colored diamonds. The color intensity can vary from light to deep, and the hue can range from yellow to brown.

 

The natural yellow color in diamonds is typically caused by the presence of nitrogen atoms within the diamond crystal structure. When nitrogen atoms are scattered throughout the crystal lattice of a diamond, they can absorb blue light, resulting in the yellow hue. The intensity of the yellow color can vary depending on the concentration and distribution of nitrogen atoms within the diamond.

 

Natural brown diamonds, also known as “champagne diamonds” or “cognac diamonds,” owe their color to structural defects within the diamond crystal lattice. These defects can include lattice distortions, dislocations, or other irregularities that interact with light to produce a brown coloration.

 

The precise mechanism behind the brown coloration of diamonds is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve the presence of hydrogen atoms or plastic deformation during the diamond’s formation process. These factors can cause changes in the crystal lattice that absorb light in the blue part of the spectrum, resulting in the perception of a brown hue.

Blue Diamonds

Blue diamonds are rare and highly prized for their stunning color. The presence of boron during the diamond’s formation is responsible for giving it a blue hue.

 

Natural blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of trace amounts of boron within the diamond crystal lattice. Boron atoms replace carbon atoms in the crystal structure, causing the diamond to absorb certain wavelengths of light in the red part of the spectrum. This absorption of red light results in the blue coloration that is characteristic of blue diamonds.

 

The specific shade of blue in a diamond can vary depending on factors such as the concentration of boron atoms and the structural arrangement of the crystal lattice. Blue diamonds can range from pale or light blue to intense or vivid blue hues. Some rare blue diamonds may even exhibit secondary colors, such as gray or greenish undertones.

 

Blue diamonds are among the rarest and most highly coveted of all colored diamonds, with only a small percentage of natural diamonds displaying a blue coloration. The intensity and saturation of the blue color can greatly influence the value and desirability of a blue diamond, with intense blue hues being particularly prized.

Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds are also rare and are coveted for their delicate pink color. The exact cause of the pink coloration is still debated among scientists.

 

The natural pink color in diamonds is caused by specific structural anomalies and distortions within the diamond crystal lattice during their formation. Unlike other colored diamonds like blues or yellows, pink diamonds do not owe their color to impurities like nitrogen or boron. Instead, their coloration is attributed to a phenomenon called plastic deformation.

 

Plastic deformation occurs when the diamond crystal lattice is subjected to enormous pressure and heat during its formation deep within the Earth’s mantle. This intense geological process causes the diamond’s atomic structure to be slightly altered, resulting in the absorption of certain wavelengths of light and the reflection of pink hues.

 

The exact mechanisms behind the formation of pink diamonds are not entirely understood, but it is believed that the plastic deformation may cause the crystal lattice to become distorted, creating specific color centers that absorb green light and reflect pink light.

 

Pink diamonds are exceptionally rare, accounting for only a tiny fraction of the world’s diamond production. They are highly prized for their exquisite beauty and rarity, with intense pink hues being particularly sought after. Pink diamonds often command premium prices in the market and are frequently used in high-end jewelry pieces, including engagement rings, earrings, and pendants. Their scarcity and unique allure make them highly coveted by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Green Diamonds

Green diamonds derive their color from exposure to natural radiation during their formation process.

 

Natural green diamonds get their color from exposure to natural radiation over millions of years during their formation process deep within the Earth’s mantle. This radiation causes changes in the diamond’s crystal lattice, resulting in the absorption of specific wavelengths of light and the reflection of green hues.

 

The green coloration in diamonds can be attributed to the presence of trace elements, primarily radiation-induced lattice defects involving nickel, that affect the diamond’s optical properties. These defects can create absorption bands in the visible light spectrum, allowing green light to be selectively absorbed while other colors are reflected.

 

The intensity and saturation of green diamonds can vary widely, ranging from faint or light green to deep or vivid green hues. Some green diamonds may also exhibit secondary colors, such as yellow or blue undertones, which can further influence their appearance.

 

Green diamonds are relatively rare compared to other colored diamonds, such as yellows or browns, making them highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts.

Red Diamonds

Red diamonds are incredibly rare and fetch extremely high prices due to their scarcity and intense color.

 

Natural red diamonds are exceptionally rare and are among the rarest colored diamonds in the world. The unique coloration of red diamonds is attributed to specific structural anomalies and distortions within the diamond crystal lattice during their formation.

 

The exact cause of the red color in diamonds is still debated among scientists, but it is believed to result from a combination of factors, including plastic deformation, lattice defects, and the presence of trace elements. One prevailing theory suggests that the red coloration may be due to graining within the diamond crystal lattice, which creates specific color centers that absorb green light and reflect red light.

 

Another theory proposes that the red color may be caused by a structural distortion known as “plastic deformation,” which occurs when the diamond’s crystal lattice is subjected to intense pressure and heat during its formation deep within the Earth’s mantle. This deformation can alter the diamond’s optical properties, resulting in the absorption of specific wavelengths of light and the reflection of red hues.

 

The presence of specific trace elements, such as nitrogen or hydrogen, may also play a role in the formation of red diamonds, although their exact contribution to the coloration remains uncertain.

 

Due to their extreme rarity and unique beauty, red diamonds are highly coveted by collectors and enthusiasts. They are often regarded as symbols of wealth, luxury, and exclusivity and command astronomical prices in the diamond market. Red diamonds are rarely seen in jewelry due to their scarcity, with most specimens being held in private collections or museums.

Orange Diamonds

Diamonds with an orange hue are relatively rare and can vary in intensity from light orange to deep orange.

 

Natural orange diamonds, like many colored diamonds, derive their color from specific structural anomalies and impurities within the diamond crystal lattice. In the case of orange diamonds, the presence of nitrogen is often a contributing factor.

 

The exact mechanism behind the orange coloration of diamonds is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors. One prevailing theory suggests that the orange color may result from a combination of nitrogen atoms and structural irregularities within the diamond lattice.

 

During the diamond’s formation deep within the Earth’s mantle, nitrogen atoms can become trapped within the crystal lattice. These nitrogen impurities can interact with the diamond’s atomic structure, causing certain wavelengths of light to be absorbed and others to be transmitted or reflected. This selective absorption of light results in the perception of an orange hue.

 

The intensity and saturation of the orange color in diamonds can vary widely, ranging from pale or light orange to deep or vivid orange hues. Other factors, such as the presence of additional impurities or structural defects, may also influence the diamond’s coloration.

 

Orange diamonds are relatively rare compared to other colored diamonds, such as yellows or browns, but they are highly prized for their unique beauty and warmth.

Purple Diamonds

Purple diamonds are also rare and are admired for their unique coloration.

 

Natural purple diamonds, like other colored diamonds, owe their color to specific structural anomalies and impurities within the diamond crystal lattice. In the case of purple diamonds, the exact cause of their coloration is still a subject of scientific study, but several factors may contribute to their purple hue:

Hydrogen

Some researchers suggest that the presence of hydrogen within the diamond lattice may play a role in creating purple coloration. Hydrogen atoms can interact with the diamond’s crystal structure, influencing its optical properties and causing the absorption of specific wavelengths of light, resulting in a purple color.

Plastic Deformation

Plastic deformation, which occurs when the diamond crystal lattice is subjected to intense pressure and heat during its formation deep within the Earth’s mantle, can also contribute to the formation of purple diamonds. This deformation can create structural irregularities and defects that affect the diamond’s optical properties and color.

Graining

Graining within the diamond crystal lattice, which results from irregularities in the diamond’s growth process, may also contribute to the formation of purple coloration. Graining can create specific color centers within the diamond, leading to selective absorption and reflection of light that produces a purple hue.

Other Trace Elements

While hydrogen is often implicated in the formation of purple diamonds, other trace elements such as boron or nickel may also contribute to their coloration. These elements can interact with the diamond lattice and influence its optical properties, resulting in purple coloration.

 

Purple diamonds are relatively rare compared to other colored diamonds, such as yellows or browns and are highly prized for their unique beauty and rarity.

Gray Diamonds

Diamonds with a gray hue are less common but can still be found in nature.

 

Natural gray diamonds, also known as “fancy gray” diamonds, derive their color from structural anomalies and impurities within the diamond crystal lattice.

 

Unlike some other colored diamonds, the exact cause of gray coloration in diamonds is not definitively understood. However, several factors may contribute to the formation of gray diamonds:

Hydrogen and Nitrogen

The presence of hydrogen and nitrogen impurities within the diamond lattice can influence its optical properties and may contribute to gray coloration. These impurities can interact with the diamond’s crystal structure, affecting the way it absorbs and reflects light.

Lattice Defects

Structural irregularities and defects within the diamond lattice, such as dislocations or vacancies, can also contribute to the formation of gray coloration. These defects can alter the diamond’s optical properties, resulting in the perception of a gray hue.

Multiple Scattering

In some cases, gray diamonds may exhibit a phenomenon known as multiple scattering, where light is scattered multiple times within the diamond lattice before exiting the stone. This scattering of light can cause the diamond to appear gray rather than colorless.

Inclusions

Gray diamonds may contain microscopic inclusions or clouds that scatter light and contribute to their gray coloration. These inclusions may be natural or introduced during the diamond’s formation process.

 

Gray diamonds can vary in color intensity and may exhibit secondary hues, such as blue or brown undertones. They are relatively rare compared to colorless diamonds but are prized for their unique beauty and subtle elegance.

Black Diamonds

Black diamonds, also known as carbonado, are opaque and typically used for industrial purposes. They are less commonly used in jewelry compared to other colored diamonds.

 

These colors can occur naturally due to various factors such as chemical impurities, structural defects, and exposure to radiation during the diamond’s formation process. The presence of specific trace elements and structural irregularities can influence the diamond’s color.

 

Additionally, some colored diamonds undergo treatments to enhance or alter their color, so it’s essential to verify the authenticity of colored diamonds through reputable gemological laboratories.

 

The exact mechanism of black diamond formation is still debated among scientists, but several theories have been proposed:

Graphitization

One theory suggests that carbonado diamonds form from graphite or amorphous carbon under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions.

 

During meteorite impacts, shock waves can cause carbonaceous materials to undergo graphitization, transforming them into polycrystalline diamond aggregates with a black coloration.

Inclusions and Impurities

Black diamonds may contain numerous inclusions and impurities, such as graphite, pyrite, or hematite, which contribute to their dark coloration. These inclusions can scatter and absorb light within the diamond, resulting in its opaque appearance.

Microscopic Structure

The unique microstructure of black diamonds, characterized by numerous micro-cracks and inclusions, may also contribute to their black coloration. These structural features can absorb and scatter light, giving black diamonds their characteristic opaque appearance.

Extraterrestrial Origin

Some scientists believe that carbonado diamonds may have originated from carbon-rich materials present in meteorites or other celestial bodies. These materials were then subjected to high-pressure, high-temperature conditions during meteorite impacts, leading to the formation of black diamonds.

 

Regardless of their exact formation process, black diamonds are relatively rare compared to other diamond types and are highly valued for their unique appearance.

Find Colored Diamond Jewellery and More with ADX

Alberta Diamond Exchange prides itself in sourcing sustainable precious metals and ethical diamonds. Our GIA Gemologists will assist you in finding the perfect colored diamond for your jewellery. Book an appointment with us to get started today!

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