Cory Smith Studios

What Are Colored Diamonds All About?

On Thanksgiving Day, both my sister and mother asked about colored diamonds, because they had seen ads about them and questioned if they were real. Since this might be something you're wondering about, too, here's my reply.

Diamond is carbon crystal formed by heat and pressure. During the formation, sometimes trace elements get into the mix and these elements cause the diamond to have color. Because pure carbon is very rare, most diamonds have some color. The presence of nitrogen causes yellow and boron causes brown or gray. When these elements are in small amounts, the color is undesirable, reducing the value. But, when they are in larger amounts, the color becomes intense enough to be called fancy color and the price/value increases.

It was learned early on that the color of diamonds could be changed by exposure to radiation. In the early experimentation, there was a radioactive residue that was not safe. Since then, methods were perfected to permanently change the molecular structure of the atoms, and therefore change the color. Today, this process is used the ENHANCE the color of many gems. The process is safe and isn't a concern, as long as it's disclosed that the gems have been irradiated.

The industry is always looking for a way to sell products that aren't desirable, by having you look at them in a different light; hence, the names of colored diamonds are changed to make them appear more desirable. For example, since most diamonds have color that is not desirable in minimal intensity, rather than calling a light yellow diamond yellow, it's called champagne-canary for the more intense yellows. Also, brown isn't an exciting color description, so the terms cognac or chocolate are used. Recently, the marketing of black diamonds has become popular; usually ground into powder for industrial use.

So, most of the colored diamonds that are being advertised are the irradiated versions. They are less expensive and come in a large variety of colors. They are not only safe, but can have the same durability as non-enhanced diamonds and cost less. They are not "fake," just enhanced.

I am an advocate of colored diamonds and have introduced many customers to them. They're not only beautiful in color, but also have the durability-to me, the most important and most valuable trait a diamond has.

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