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Are There Really Multiple Colors of Diamonds?

Set of luxury transparent sparkling yellow and colorless diamonds

You’re out shopping for diamonds, and a pretty blue diamond happens to catch your eye. At first glance, you may think that the stone is fake or dyed. The thing is, diamonds come in many more colors than the clear “white” you’re most familiar with.

Colorless Diamonds

Some believe that the less color a diamond has, the more it must be worth. However, vividly colored diamonds are also worth more than your average diamond. Diamonds range anywhere in color from “white” to yellow or brown. When you see a bright diamond, it’s most often a hue of yellow rather than a completely colorless stone.

Color is just one of the ways that diamonds are graded in addition to the carat weight, cut, and clarity. Diamonds with pale yellow or brown hues are rated as the lowest quality stones, while completely clear or vividly colored ones are judged to be worth far more. Some colors are worth more than others, as well.

Colored Diamonds

While brown and yellow diamonds are the most common naturally colored diamonds, they are far from being the only colors found in nature. In fact, diamonds can be found in nearly all colors of the rainbow, including pink, red, orange, green, blue, and violet. There are even black and gray diamonds.

What causes these color variations? Well, there are many different factors involved in the coloration of diamonds. The list below provides explanations for the formation of the various colors.

  • White: A white diamond has clouds of inclusions, otherwise known as natural birthmarks, within the stone that give it an opalescent appearance.
  • Pink: Pink coloration is rarely found within natural diamonds, occurring when stress on the stone creates imperfections. Volcanic activity is thought to be a cause.
  • Red: Red diamonds are even rarer than pink ones and are thus considered to be extremely valuable. They are formed in much the same way as the pink diamonds.
  • Orange: These rare diamonds can mostly be found in sub-Saharan African countries. The inclusion of nitrogen and other trace elements gives them their specific hue.
  • Brown: Brown diamonds are very common. However, not long ago, a company started advertising “chocolate diamonds” and the color became popular as a result. The brown coloring comes from lattice imperfections (like those found in the pink and red diamonds) or the addition of nickel impurities, among other things.
  • Yellow: Yellow diamonds are also very common. The yellow color usually comes from nitrogen atoms in the crystal lattice.
  • Green: Green diamonds are rare natural finds. The green color usually comes from radioactive minerals deposited in the crystal lattice.
  • Blue: Blue diamonds are also rare. Boron atoms replace some of the usual carbon atoms, causing the blue coloring to form. The more boron that replaces carbon, the bluer the stone will appear.
  • Purple: Violet-colored diamonds get their hue from hydrogen in the atomic structure. High pressure can create a deformation that forms purple-pink-colored diamonds as well.
  • Black: Black diamonds contain a high density of mineral inclusions within them, which keep light from passing through the diamond. The minerals in the stones can include anything from graphite to hematite.

So, the next time you see a colored diamond, you’ll know that it’s a real diamond and not a dyed rock. The myriad of diamond colors is a sign that sometimes imperfections can make something even more beautiful, and possibly more rare and valuable.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »