What Color Are Diamonds?

What color are diamonds?  That’s a trick question, right?  Aren’t all diamonds clear and colorless?

That’s a common assumption, and there’s a reason for that.  Nearly all diamonds are clear and colorless.  They’re still beautiful, and people still want them, and nice ones still sell for a fortune.

Most people assume that gemstones with color in them must be rubies or emeralds or sapphires.  While those stones do have color and are themselves beautiful stones, they’re distinctly different from colored diamonds.

yellow diamondColored diamonds are exceptionally rare and can sell for a great deal more money than your (ahem) run-of-the-mill clear ones.   Diamonds, are, by definition, created from carbon under extreme pressure.  If the material is 100% carbon, you’ll get the traditional colorless diamond as a result.

Sometimes, however, trace amounts of other substances can find their way into the mix.  This can happen under the Earth’s surface, where temperatures are hot and the various elements aren’t exactly separated from one another.  While scientists know that a small amount of boron in the mix can create a blue diamond and a little bit of nitrogen can turn the stone yellow, they’re not entirely sure why some stones end up pink or red.  Exposure to certain types of radiation is thought to create green diamonds.

This happens on occasion, though it’s quite rare.  It’s been estimated that only one in ten thousand diamonds has any color to it at all.  If you take into account that the vast majority of diamonds are not suitable for gemstones, you’ll understand why we rarely see colored diamonds for sale or even hear about them.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond

Some, of course, are famous.  The Hope Diamond is probably the best-known example, partially because of its famous history, and partially because, at more than 45 carats, it’s an exceptionally large diamond, whether it’s colored or not.  Of course, it is colored, and it’s a beautiful shade of blue.

If you’re shopping for colored diamonds, you’ll likely have to pay more for one than you would for a colorless one.  There are jewelers who specialize in colored diamonds, such as Leibish.  They’re not the only specialists, however, and a quick Web search will turn up a few other reputable vendors.

In recent years, manufactured diamonds have finally matured in that the industry has finally figured out how to consistently manufacture gemstone quality diamonds for use in jewelry.  As you might suspect, manufactured diamonds are also available in colored varieties, and they’re likely to be far more affordable than the natural ones, as they can be produced more or less on demand, where the natural colored diamonds turn up rather randomly, and rarely.

The usual factors that go into pricing a diamond – cut, clarity, color and carat weight, also apply to colored diamonds, and they’ll be priced according to those factors.

Diamonds are terrific and beautiful.  But they’re not just colorless.  They come in all of the colors of the rainbow.