You might wonder why diamonds come in different colors, and what makes them so expensive. The mineral diamond is a pure form of the element carbon. The appearance of color in a diamond is caused by either trace elements or internal distortions that are included in the crystal as it forms. Although most faceted (cut) diamonds appear to be white, many diamonds that are mined are actually a faint shade of yellow.
Diamond color is graded on a scale from D to Z. Diamonds with a color grade of D, E, or F are considered colorless. Grades G-J are near colorless. Diamonds that fall in the K-M color grade range have a faint yellow tint. The N-R range has a very light-yellow tint, and the S-Z range is light yellow.
Diamonds can occur in almost any color of the rainbow, but fancy color diamonds are much rarer than white diamonds. Their color intensity is graded from Faint at the lower end to Fancy Vivid at the high end.
Yellow diamonds are one of the most popular fancy colored diamonds, and their color is caused by the trace element nitrogen. Because of the way diamonds form, it’s rare for a diamond not to contain any nitrogen at all; hence the rarity of truly colorless diamonds. On the flip side, a deep saturation of nitrogen creating a “canary” bright yellow color is also rare.
Brown diamonds are the most commonly occurring fancy-colored diamonds. Brown is caused by internal graining, a distortion in the diamond’s crystal structure. This same kind of distortion is also responsible for creating pink and red diamonds. Red and blue are the rarest colors of diamonds. Less than 20 diamonds have so far been certified as red diamond and only 20-30 have ever been mined. Blue diamonds are colored with the trace element boron.
Fancy white diamonds are caused by the scattering of light by thousands of microscopic pinpoint inclusions and have an opalescent look that sets them apart from typical white diamonds.
Black diamonds are actually so heavily included with black crystal that they appear to be solid in color. Irradiation is often used to make the black color look solid; a natural black diamond will have a salt and pepper look under magnification.
An oddity in the fancy-colored world is called the Chameleon diamond. These are typically olive green and can temporarily change color to greenish-yellow when exposed to heat or kept in darkness then exposed to light.
With the advent of the lab-grown diamond, owning a fancy colored diamond has become much more affordable. Even the treasured red, blue, and pink colors are available in lab-grown diamonds.
Here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, we have a vast array of loose and mounted diamonds from which to choose. Whether you’re looking for the traditional “white” diamond, a fancy colored mined diamond, or a fancy colored lab-grown diamond, stop by our jewelry store on San Diego Avenue to find your favorite colored diamond. Our expert and friendly sales team will always guide you to make the best choice that fits your needs.