As a girl who wants to add a splash of color to her jewelry wardrobe, but can't fathom the thought of wearing any other gemstone than diamond (and Moissanite!), and who can't afford naturally fancy colored diamonds (yes, colored diamonds really do exist in nature!)... Well, what's a girl to do? With technology and techniques that have been honed down to perfection over the course of the past century, though, I guess I can settle for color enhanced diamonds (yes, color enhanced diamonds exist, too!)!
As with most people, I've never really been keen on fake/ artificial anything, whether it's counterfeit designer goods, cubic zirconia or silver jewelry, artificial sugar, fake nails, fake noses, fake smiles, and especially fake people. And I wasn't too keen on Moissanite at first because it seemed to be marketed as a diamond replacement, but it really grew on me (as you can see in my review) after I received a pair of Moissanite earrings as a gift. Well, the same thing happened to me with color enhanced diamonds; I didn't like the fact that the vibrant colors of these diamonds were artificially enhanced, but once I recieved a color enhanced diamond ring for my birthday, I've been absolutely in love and it hasn't been off my finger since!
My ring is a slightly over half-carat red, heart-shaped diamond with a white diamond halo around it, and a diamond shank. It's lovely and dainty, and I get compliments on it all the time. I usually follow up with a, "Thanks, it's a red diamond :)", most people are like :o "Diamonds come in different colors???". Yes, diamonds aren't just white; they come in a wide array of colors, in literally every color of the color spectrum. Another really cute comment that I got once was, "Heart-shaped diamonds exist???" Yes, diamonds can be cut into any shape that you want if you've got the $$$.
I'm always surprised when people say that they don't know that colored diamonds exist. They've actually been pretty popular in the mainstream for the past few years. As a jeweler, I've learned all about colored diamonds in gemology school, and I've also been seeing colored diamonds, both natural and enhanced, being marketed like crazy at jewelry conventions and at trade magazines. Customers have been requesting colored diamonds at my store for the past few years. We finally contacted a vendor about it last year, and colored diamonds have been selling like hot cakes since.
Pop culture has also played a hand in increasing the popularity of colored diamonds. There was The Heart of the Ocean, a large, blue fictional diamond (based off the real life Hope Diamond) that was worn by Kate Winslet in the Titanic and the repo of Imelda Marcos' large, red diamond, as well as the seven carat lavender diamond ring given by Kobe Bryant to his wife Vanessa, and the six carat pink diamond engagement ring that was given to J Lo by Ben Affleck. Demand for pink diamonds spiked after that.
Naturally fancy colored have existed for millions of years, and the process to add color to diamonds through irradiation was discovered in 1904. Currently, there are three major methods in which diamond color becomes artificially enhanced:
Irradiation: This was the process discovered in 1904, and is actually the most popular method today. The first diamond that was ever irradiated remains both colored, and radioactive to this day and is sitting somewhere in a museum in the U.K., but technology has come a long way since then, and irradiated diamonds are completely safe to wear now; their radioactivity goes away a few hours after treatment. To irradiate a diamond, a pulsed beam of electrons is fired at the diamond, changing the way the stone absorbs light and thereby changing the color to a teal or blue color. Then the stone must be annealed by being heated up at very high temperature in an oxygen-free environment in order to achieve other colors. After treatment though, high temperatures to the stone should be avoided.
High-Temperature, High Pressure: This process recreates how diamonds become colored in nature by exposing the diamond to high temperature and high pressure and can be used to create mostly white, yellow, orange, and green diamonds. When combined with irradiation processes though, pink and purple ranges of colors can also be created. Of the three processes, diamonds that go through this one require the least care and can be subjected to high temperatures.
Coating: The simplest, yet least durable of the three processes. Pretty much, a thin coat of color is put on the pavillion of the diamond, which is the bottom of the stone. Any color can be achieved through the coating process, but most companies who treat diamonds only use this process when necessary, and pretty much the only color where this process is necessary is extremely light pink, which is very hard to achieve with the other two processes. Extra care must be taken when working with coated stones because a chip or a scratch at the film could cause loss of color. The film of color is pretty durable. but still.
Reasons why I love these color enhanced diamonds:
First and foremost, they're diamonds! That means they've got all the qualities of an untreated diamond in terms of hardness and scintillation, etc.
They're affordable. I recently sold a gorgeous 2.5 carat irradiated blue diamond for $15,000. If that diamond had been naturally blue, I'm not kidding when I say that it would've cost at least half a million dollars.
There's a consistent supply, I could easily find a pair of earrings, a pendant, or a bracelet, etc, to match my ring if I wanted to.
They're extremely versatile. They can be set and worn in many ways and still look gorgeous. I've mainly been working with large, center piece, color enhanced diamonds, but I'm really looking forward to working with them as smaller accent stones.
Oh, and they'll last forever.
Man, writing this color enhanced diamond write up makes me wanna nix my plans for my next Louis Vuitton purchase and just get a colored diamond piece instead. Next major purchase on my list: a black heart diamond pendant with a white diamond halo around it to match my ring! :D
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About the reviewer
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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Generally there are three major methods to artificially alter the color of a diamond: irradiation with high-energy subatomic particles; the application of thin films or coatings; and the combined application of high temperature and high pressure (HTHP). However, there is recent evidence that fracture filling is not only used to improve clarity, but that it can be used for the sole purpose to change the color into a more desirable color as well.
The first two methods can only modify color, usually to turn an off-color Cape series stone (see Material properties of diamond: Composition and color) into a more desirable fancy-colored stone. Because some irradiation methods produce only a thin "skin" of color, they are applied to diamonds that are already cut and polished. Conversely, HTHP is used to modify and remove color from either rough or cut diamonds—but only certain diamonds are treatable in this manner. Irradiation and HTHP treatments are usually permanent insofar as they will not be reversed under normal conditions of jewelry use, whereas thin films are impermanent.
Sir William Crookes, a gem connoisseur as well as a chemist and physicist, was the first to discover radiation's effects on diamond color when in 1904 he conducted a series of experiments using radium salts. Diamonds enveloped in radium salt slowly turned a dark green; this color was found to be localized in blotchy patches, and it did not penetrate past the surface of the stone....