A Look at Diamond Color Treatments And Enhancements

With today’s technological advancement, there exists a number of treatments and enhancements that can alter a diamond’s appearance completely. Some of these methods can permanently change the diamond, whilst others are only temporary measures.

But the real question is, why go through all the hassle? Why not buy a natural diamond in the first place and save all the trouble? Well, the reason is simple and it all points to one thing: Cost

If you are looking for more affordable colored diamonds, lab grown stones are eco-friendly choices you might want to consider. Brilliant Earth holds a good collection of beautiful lab grown diamonds across a range of colors. Check them out!

Comparison of Natural Rare Fancy Red Against a White Diamond

0.45 Carat, Fancy Red, Radiant, SI2

0.45 carat fancy red diamond

PRICE: $ 320,200

0.55 Carat, F Color, Radiant, SI1

f color radiant cut diamond

PRICE: US$ 900

The price for a natural red fancy colored diamond is astronomical and would probably shock you. How many people can afford the kind of money ($300,000!) for a an object that’s only 4mm in size? Well, I don’t although I do hope to have that kind of spare cash lying around in future. But you get the idea, these things cost a bomb.

So, what are the other options available for average consumers to get their hands on colored diamonds? The use of treatments to artificially enhance or generate color in a diamond is one such viable solution. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be explaining the types of color treatments that are commonly used in the industry.

Ink Staining And Color Coating Enhancements

In the olden times, ink staining (dyeing) is one of the most popular methods used to alter a gemstone’s appearance. People could stain their diamond with a layer of colored ink to selectively enhance or reduce its hue. Do note that most inks only provide a temporary solution and will fade over time when the jewelry is worn.

With the current technology available today, much has changed. Diamonds can now undergo a sputtering process for a thin film to be evenly deposited on the surface of the stone. Although the thickness of the thin film can be in tens of microns (about the thickness of a hair), it can cause severe changes to the perceived color.

diamond color coating via sputtering

You Can Virtually Get Any Colors Of Your Choice – Photograph Credits: Serenity Technology

For example, a sputtered pink coating can give the diamond a fancy pink appearance. If a thin layer of blue material is sputtered on yellowish diamonds, it can help to neutralize the yellowish body color and cause it to appear colorless.

Like ink staining, the downside of sputtering is that it isn’t a permanent enhancement. Overtime, the coating can get scratched and may peel away with wear and tear.

Heat Pressure And High Temperature (HPHT) Treatment

HPHT treatment is probably the most well known method that is used to change the color of a diamond permanently. With proper application, HPHT can lighten the tint or saturate the existing tone of a lower grade diamond.

For example, heat and pressure treatment can turn a yellowish looking stone into a fancy colored one to increase its appeal. By making some tweaks in the process recipe, the same technique can also be used to turn brownish diamonds into colorless stones.

Why Does Color Change With Heat And Pressure?

canary yellow treated diamond

Result of HPHT Treatment

On a microscopic scale, subjecting a diamond to high heat and pressure will cause changes to take place within its molecular structure. Color that was caused by structure defects could now be “corrected” due to plastic deformation and rearrangement of the molecules.

The only real issue with this process is that the final appearance can never be predetermined with 100% accuracy. That’s why there is some risk involved here as you won’t know how the diamond will look like until the procedure has been completed.

Due to its relatively low cost operations, HPHT processes are the most common treatments seen in colored diamonds. If you intend to get a natural fancy colored diamond, make sure you check and verify that it hasn’t been heat treated previously. The best way to do this is to send the diamond to GIA for grading.

Unlike color treated diamonds which require secondary processes to infuse their hue, lab grown stones generally have better color consistency and quality. Instead of treated diamonds, I recommend lab grown colored diamonds from Brilliant Earth for their better price points and reliability.


As the name suggests, the irradiation process subjects the diamond to high energy rays of radiation from sources like accelerators and nuclear reactors. With heavy bombardment of the diamond’s crystal lattice, the carbon atoms get hit out of their original positions.

This results in color centers which changes the hue of the diamond. Typically, irradiation processes are irreversible and could be used in tandem with HPHT in a 2 step combination process.

Having a Different Setting

The setting itself can be manipulated to create a look with a specific tone to it. Simply by changing the color of the setting, you can enhance the color of light that is reflected back through the diamond.

For example, a gold setting is responsible for giving mounted gemstones a yellow hue, whilst platinum and white gold settings can enhance a colorless diamond’s appearance by making it look whiter. Having a clever ring setting design can also make the center stone look larger and create better appeal to the jewelry piece.

Why The Choice of Gemological Lab Matters

treated orangy pink diamond report

Look Under the Origin Description

For the uneducated consumer, buying a colored diamond is like opening a can of worms. Since the majority of colored diamonds in the market are treated, you have to be extremely careful with whom you are dealing with.

In order to detect the latest treatment methods, you would need state-of-the-art equipment that your local gemologist or appraiser would never have access to. I would even go as far as to say that some major labs like EGL and IGI can also fail to detect treated diamonds based on what I had seen previously.

If you want to ensure what you are buying is the real deal, you should never settle for anything less than a GIA report. The reason why I recommend GIA is that they are at the forefront of gemological research and they consistently invest in lab equipment to keep up to date with technology.

I want to end off this article by saying that it’s OK to buy treated diamonds at lower prices. However, it is NOT OK to buy one that is being passed off as being a natural fancy colored diamond.

Personally, I would ditch the idea of buying a color treated diamond. If you want the real deal (natural diamonds), go to Leibish.com. They are the leading authority in the world of colored diamonds. If they are out of your budget, lab created diamonds are a better alternative.

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  1. Dorothy Fitch-
    December 10, 2017 at 2:53 am

    Thanks for the informative post. I recently came across a wholesaler in Dallas selling certified clarity enhanced jewelry. The prices are really tempting and affordable compared to the normal diamonds. Can you share anything you know about https://www.tevadiamonds.com?

  2. Paul Gian-
    December 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Clarity enhanced diamonds are a can of nasty worms to open. They are cheap for a reason and I can tell you that it is due to the diamonds being of junk quality and poorly cut. I don’t know anything about TevaDiamonds.com but if you are based in Dallas, then this write up to buying engagement rings in Dallas will interest you.

  3. Ali-
    July 13, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I really appreciate your website and all the information you have provided to the public and the newbies who are interested in buying a diamond for the first time (and hopefully last).

    I have a few questions for you.

    1) First and foremost, what are your thoughts on HPHT diamonds? I am not buying it as an investment, but rather to be placed on a ring and as a wearable item for life.

    2) I have encountered a E color (HPHT) diamond, that is VVS2 in clarity and a comment on the GIA report that the clarity grade is based on internal graining that is not shown. what is that mean?

    3) On the same report (1192297056), clarity characteristic chart/graph is completely left blank, what is that mean? Does it mean that there are no inclusions, feathers, cloud etc at all?

    4) In between these two diamonds (1192297056 vs. 6197482944), which one would you choose? (please see attached GIA reports on both). One is VVS2, and another is VVS1. The cost difference is ~$1500

    5) What do you think would be the fair price to pay for either of these diamonds.

  4. Paul Gian-
    July 14, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Regarding your question about internal graining, read this: https://beyond4cs.com/grading/other-comments/

    HPHT diamonds are usually junk-tier diamonds that are treated in order to make them saleable. Almost every single HPHT diamond I’ve seen are just “refurbished” junk with terrible cut quality and clarity. That’s my main gripe with HP HT diamonds.

    For the record, I have yet to see a truly well cut HPHT diamond over the course of 5 years. And that says a lot given the amount of stones I have seen.

    If they were well cut and accurately represented by jewelers, then I won’t have an issue. Clarity is not your problem here. Poor cut quality is. There are far better places to buy diamonds and better options to keep costs low if you are on a tight budget.

    > https://beyond4cs.com/best-places-to-buy-diamonds/

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