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Diamonds

The History and Rarity of Colored Diamonds

May 28, 2020

The most well-known colored diamond is the Hope Diamond. Weighing in at a whopping 45.52 carats, it contains shades of blue and gray and a legacy as colorful as the diamond itself. With four centuries of ownership records and a murky legend of being cursed, the diamond is now on display at the Natural Museum of History in New York, where it has lived since 1958.

 Colored diamonds are no stranger to the jewelry industry – in fact, it is quite common to hear of celebrities wearing colored diamond engagement rings. But what makes a colored diamond all the more valuable to a gem connoisseur? Especially when the reverse is true for diamonds in the normal range?

It all comes back to the rarity of a piece. When something is rare, it makes it less accessible and more highly prized. For diamonds in the normal range, their value increases the more colorless they are. Yet for colored diamonds, the opposite is true. The most common type of colored diamond is the yellow or brown diamond. A standard diamond may have more yellow tones naturally, which makes yellow diamonds have greater range in terms of its saturation and hue. However, colored diamonds can be found in every color of the spectrum including blue, green, pink and red.

Historically, the most well-known sources of fancy color diamonds have been India, South Africa, and Australia. However they have been found in Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, and Indonesia. Not only that, but they are rare in nature – for every 10,000 diamonds mined, only one is likely to be a fancy colored diamond. At Samuelson’s Buyers, we are careful to buy natural diamonds only, rather than treated or color-enhanced diamonds, which means that your colored diamond at Samuelson’s is more likely to be from one of these locations.

When looking at colored diamonds, the key component is the color displayed in the face-up position. Of the rare natural colored diamonds, it is more common to find them with lighter tones or lesser saturation. Finding diamonds with medium to dark tones and moderate saturations of red, green, and blue are extremely rare. So what causes these breaks in saturation for colored diamonds?

Finding a naturally sourced red diamond where there are no secondary hues is incredibly rare. Between 1957 and 1987, there were no mentions of a GIA lab report issued for a diamond with “red” as the only descriptive term.  As of right now, gemologists have not yet found a primary factor in what causes red diamonds, and their best guess is that there is a defect in the atomic structure that is partially responsible. 

Green diamonds are challenging for gemologists to identify as being natural or treated color because their hue is due to exposure to radiation. The most common example of organic exposure is due to radioactive uranium from rocks near the earth’s surface, and typically results in spots or stains appearing on the diamond’s surface

Similarly, a blue diamond owes its color to boron impurities. The shade of blue depicted by the gem can indicate whether it is due to radiation exposure, lending itself to a green-blue hue, or hydrogen, which is more of a gray-violent or gray-blue hue

 Regardless of how a colored diamond came to be, it is crucial that the stone be cut appropriately to retain its value. If you have a colored diamond and would like to assess its value, we would be delighted to help. Make an appointment or call our Baltimore store at 410-403-3091 today!

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