There are a few things you probably knew about diamonds without doing any indepth research – that is, everybody knows that diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth. Also, I’m certain that most people are aware of huge price tags these small gemstones command.
As you learn more about diamonds, you will probably come across four main characteristics that define a diamond’s quality. These characteristics are also known as the “four C’s” and are cut, carat, clarity and last, but not least, color.
When you study a little more about what we understand by diamond color, you will see that a “colorless” diamond is usually preferred in the consumer market.
So, if a diamond ought to be colorless, why do we still care about “pink” diamonds? Well, let us talk about what fancy colored diamonds are and how pink diamonds are formed.
A diamond’s color is typically graded on a scale of D to Z, where D represents a colorless state and Z represents a yellowish/brownish hue. When a yellowish/brownish diamond’s hue is more intense than a Z colored masterstone, it will be classified as a “fancy color diamond”. Likewise, when diamond has a different hue (e.g. pink, blue, red etc…), it would be categorized as a fancy color diamond if the coloration is sufficiently intense.
Interestingly, diamond colors can range from pink, through green and magenta to whatever color you would see in the entire spectrum, and even black. As a result, this makes the usual grading system of D-Z incompatible. Instead, a grading system similar to that used in emeralds or sapphires is applied. Instead of alphabets, descriptive words like “fancy light pink” are used to describe the diamond’s color.
Diamonds are formed deep in the Earth’s mantle under extreme conditions. If you had watched the movie, Superman, you probably have a misconception that pieces of coal can transform into diamonds under high pressure and temperature.
Well, it isn’t. This is because diamonds are actually much older and existed before any known vegetation that was responsible for today’s source of coal.
After formation, the rough diamonds are brought closer to Earth’s surface by violent volcanic eruptions via kimberlite pipes. It’s no coincidence that the pipes caused by these eruptions are signs that geologists look for when searching for new deposits.
There are a number of reasons that cause a diamond to display a certain color. The most common reason for coloration is due to the presence of trace elements in the diamond’s chemical composition.
For example, traces of nitrogen in a diamond can result in a strong yellowish color. Also, the presence of radiation sources during the formation process can permanently alter the diamond’s hue – usually yielding a greenish color.
While most other colored diamonds already had their origins and causes of color scientifically explained, one mystery that still puzzles scientists today is the origin of pink coloration in diamonds.
Around the world, pink diamonds can be found at various mines. Most notably, Australia’s Argyle mine is well known for producing rough diamonds with fantastic shades of pink (and prices too!). It is believed that pink diamonds didn’t start their growth process as pink.
Instead, scientists speculate that the stress and strain experienced by rough diamonds when they are in the Earth’s mantle causes the diamond’s lattice to be distorted. This distortion creates graining and pink color zones to occur within the diamond.
Despite the sophisticated lab analysis equipment available to scientists at the time of writing, no one has completely cracked the code on the mysterious color centers that induce pink hues in diamonds.
It is worth mentioning that there are currently ways to synthesize diamonds in the lab. In fact, we have the technological capability to create fancy colored diamonds across a wide range of colors. By injecting trace elements in the diamond during its growth stages or utilizing radiation processes, affordable colored diamonds can be made available to the consumer market.
In my opinion, it is very difficult to judge whether such technologies are a boon or a bane to the world of diamonds. However, I would say that both synthetic and natural colored diamonds serve different needs in the market for your everyday consumer and the high net-worth individuals.