Green Color in Diamonds: The Natural ‘Treatment’

By Daniel Howell Ph.D. Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, Diamond Durability Laboratory | 18.12.17
Green Color in Diamonds: The Natural ‘Treatment’

As the demand for green fancy color diamonds grows, professionals who market them will benefit from increased knowledge and key talking points about this rare type of stone. One such example being that a unique characteristic of green diamonds is the fact that they are the only type of diamonds that obtain their color long after they are formed.

This article by Daniel Howell summarizes the essential information that you need to know about green fancy color diamonds during the selling process.

Of all the fancy colours that diamonds can exhibit, green is the only one that can be naturally created once the diamond has been transported to the surface. All other colours are produced while the diamond is deep in the Earth under high temperatures and pressures, either by impurities in the carbon lattice (e.g. yellow, blue) or deformation of it (e.g. brown, red / pink). Natural green colour is the result of radiation damaging the diamond. This can occur when the diamond is still in the volcanic pipe (kimberlite) that brought it to the surface, or even if it has been eroded out from there and found in a river / alluvial deposit. If the diamond resides very near, or in contact with, another mineral or fluid that contains a high concentration of radioactive elements (e.g. uranium) then it can have an affect on it. The radiation emitted by the radioactive minerals or fluids, penetrates the diamond and knocks carbon atoms out of the diamond’s crystal lattice, creating holes or vacancies. It is this defect, or imperfection in the diamond lattice, that causes the absorption of predominantly red light, resulting in us perceiving green colour. Radiation damage can also occur when the diamond is deep in the Earth. However, the high temperatures the diamonds reside at are likely to cause the defects to change, reducing the green colour and potentially changing it to brown or adding a yellow component [1].


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