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Color Enhanced Diamonds

Diamonds that are color enhanced.

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Can't Afford Naturally Fancy Colored Diamonds? Well, Here's The Next Best Thing.

  • Jun 30, 2009
Rating:
+4
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
Colored Diamonds

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July 14, 2011
I can see that Devora knows the subject of diamonds very thoroughly indeed !
 
January 13, 2010
Wow, Diamonds are Devora's best friends :) Geez, how much are they paying you here at Lunch? LOL!
January 17, 2010
They really are! And I'm lucky enough to have been born into a family of jewelers ;)
 
October 15, 2009
This review made me drool a little. I love being a girl. I really want to see a photo of your ring!!! It sounds awesome.
January 17, 2010
Whoooa, how did I miss this comment from three months ago???  Just took a pic on my iPhone :)
 
October 14, 2009
Very interesting article. I'm always searching for those pieces that stand out form the pack so this is right up my ally. Do you have any idea of the consumer demographic of these diamonds thus far? It seems that some be wary of the process and product since it's relativity new.
October 14, 2009
Thanks for your comment, Bridget Grace! I've read many industry publications about colored diamonds, but have yet to come across any user demographics. In my store, at least, women and, less often, men, of all ages and social classes seem to be interested in them. I think most high end jewelry lovers have heard of colored diamonds before since so many celebrities wear them. The process isn't all too new, about a century old, and it has been commercialized for about the past decade, but has become more accessible in recent years. I think these are perfect for the fashionista who wants something different, but doesn't wanna break bank! :)
 
July 01, 2009
Interesting article, nevertheless there is nothing like the real thing. I work for Peled Diamonds / diamonds manufacturer. You can find unique Fancy Colored Diamonds for affordable prices at: www.PeledDiamonds.com.
July 01, 2009
Trust me, Noam, if I could afford naturally colored diamonds, I wouldn't be buying color enhanced diamonds, or Moissanite for that matter!  I rated them +4's for a reason ;)  The problem with me, though, is that I like my diamonds LARGE and clean, and I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars at my disposal, so I'll take color enhanced diamonds and Moissanite until I have that much disposable income!  I really would love to have decent-sized naturally colored diamonds in the future.

By the way, since you work for a diamond manufacturer, I'd love to get your take on @djevoke's comment about conflict-free diamonds in the comment below!
 
June 30, 2009
Wow...devora! I had NO IDEA you were a jeweler...that is so cool. After reading your review, I might have to think about a way to get one for myself.. With diamonds, my main concern is where they come from and that they don't support the endless Civil War and child slavery. I Googled it but, couldn't get a decent answer. How do you certify that the diamonds that you sell don't support the LRA? Thanks!
July 01, 2009
Yup, I've been a jeweler for a number of years now, went to gemology school and everything!  In regards to conflict-free diamonds, I can't speak for the whole industry.  I'm not sure how one would find out whether their diamonds are conflict-free or not, really wish I knew the answer to that one.  There are "green" jewelers out there, but they seem to put a huge premium on their prices because of that fact.  In my store, at least, we get our diamonds from a reliable source, a very large, reputable diamond distributor thats been around for a while, and they say that all their diamonds comply with the United Nations Resolution and are conflict-free to the best of their knowledge.
July 13, 2009

Dear Devora and djevoke,

 

Disclaimer: I work for Peled Diamonds LTD. (PeledDiamonds.com)

 

On May 2000, the Kimberly process was launched.
Most of the countries in the world enforce it and check the origins of every rough diamonds shipments they let into their borders.

As a dealer, you have to sign for every diamond which you import that it’s not a conflict diamond and bear the responsibility for it.

You can’t avoid the process and it’s strict requirements.

 

By the way, the Israeli Diamonds Exchange was the first in the world to completely boycott the blood diamonds.

 

As far as I know, since the Kimberly process was launched, the number of blood diamonds that manage to infiltrate the industry was decreased tremendously.

They say that before the process it was about 4% of all diamonds.

 

Maybe I’m naïve, but I’d like to believe that like you, no one wants to be a part of the injustice and horrors caused by conflict diamonds.

 
1
About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #4
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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Wiki

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.

Irradiation

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....
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Tags

Fashion, Jewelry, Diamonds, Diamond, Gemstone, Gem Stone, Colored Diamond, Fancy Color Diamond

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