Why Do Diamonds Come in Different Colors?

  1. Diamond mines around the world yield different colored diamonds.
  2. Natural science explains why diamonds come in different colors.
  3. Laboratories can make colored diamonds for popular demand.

The World’s Diamond Mines Produce Different Colored Diamonds

Across the world’s geography, diamond mines produce gems of different hues. Each unique geologic area yields different colored diamonds. This is because diamonds grow in the rock formations in the earth’s crust. Different rock formations will grow different kinds of diamonds of a variety of colors.

South Africa is famous for diamonds of a light yellow hue. The African continent is responsible for most of the world’s orange diamonds. Australian diamond mines produce many of the world’s rare pink and red diamonds. In fact, the largest mine in the world is Australia’s Argyle mine which yields 90% of the world’s supply of red and pink diamonds. Blue diamonds come from a variety of mines around the world, but many of them are from India, including the famous Hope diamond. Green diamonds are among the rarest color, most of which come from South America. The many colors of diamonds vary as much as the world’s geology.

Natural Science Explains Diamond Colors

Diamonds are gems that form during geologic processes in the Earth’s crust. Formed billions of years ago, the Earth’s high pressure interior was hot enough to forge these beautiful stones.

Diamonds acquire their color during the natural process of their growth. Natural sciences like geology, gemology, and geophysical chemistry explain how diamonds are formed and how they acquire their distinctive colors.

The chemical make-up of a diamond is very simple. A pure, colorless diamond is made of millions of carbon atoms that form something called a diamond lattice shape. When this shape is modified, the diamond takes on a color. Other chemicals can interact with carbon to change a diamond’s color. So too can geologic conditions impact the structural formation of the diamond lattice structure. For instance, when carbon atoms bond with nitrogen or boron, diamonds become yellow or blue, respectively. Colors like pink, red, brown, and green form when changes are introduced into the diamond lattice structure, like from extreme pressure in the earth’s crust.

Lab Created Diamonds Frequently Come in Different Colors

Labs can make colored diamonds. The technology was developed to make gem-sized diamonds in the late 20th century. Lab technicians can use extreme heat and hydraulic pressure to imitate the natural conditions needed to form diamonds. Synthetic or lab created diamonds can theoretically be made in all colors, but labs have focused especially on yellow, blue, and pink.

People often wonder how to tell the difference between natural and lab created diamonds. The labs that make synthetic diamonds are often required to affix a microscopic inscription indicating that the gem is lab-grown, and gemologists have invented spectroscopes that can distinguish between lab created and natural diamonds. Because of popular demand for more affordable colored diamonds, lab created diamonds are on the rise.