Fancy Color Diamonds
Diamonds come in a variety of colors. So many events have to happen simultaneously to create diamonds with color other than yellow or white. And surprisingly it is impurities or structural defects that can cause the unique color variations. White diamonds have a perfect carbon structure that allows for the absence of color, and yet, gemologists will use terms like 'structural defect' or 'impurities' to describe why a diamond is any color other than white. Looking through kaleidoscope lenses, 'structural defects' are merely changes in atomic formation and 'impurities' are those necessary atomic ingredients to change from a colorless white to a myriad of vibrant colors.
Go back a few billion years as diamonds were still forming within the earth. Carbon atoms line up in a perfect lattice structure and white diamonds are formed, but within the secrets of the Earth, time, pressure, gasses, geologic radiation and shifting land masses conspire against theses colorless crystals to create yellow, orange, red, pink, green, purple, blue, brown, and black diamonds. Teeming with nitrogen atoms, the Earth loses its grasp on the white diamonds and shades of yellow appear. What once will be Australia and South Africa, nitrogen rich areas are producing diamonds with an orange appearance. These diamonds will surpass the color of yellow as a result of the atoms are grouped in a hyper specific way as the diamond is forming. Combine the nitrogen with a few 'structural defects' in the lattice formation and the yellow or orange diamonds evolve into shades of brown diamonds. Brown diamonds are the most abundant of the colored diamonds and can have a wide range of color grades usually due to how intense the brown appears and if it possesses shades of other colors within it. Brazil, Borneo, and Central Africa could not be further from one another and yet green diamonds have been discovered in these distant areas. These rare stones were discovered in ore containing radiation. Greenish hues caused by trapped electrons adhere to the surface of the diamond. The diamond industry will have to be patient for these green beauties. On average, less than ten come to market each year.
Impurities and carbon atom alignment are not the only reason why a diamond will have color. Color can be generated by its journey alone. Some diamonds experience great stress as its expedition continues to the upper crust of the Earth. These stresses can cause changes in the electron structure, called "plastic deformation." When the journey ends, shades of pink and possibly red will wait patiently for millions of years to be discovered. When found, these pink to red gems will look unlike any of the other stones we have come to know. These diamonds will never look like rubies, sapphires or garnets, but a uniquely different colored diamond.
Diamonds that have trace elements of boron will appear blue by absorbing the yellow and red light within the light spectrum. However, if the intensity of the blue diamonds is not strong enough the diamonds will appear more gray than blue. Gray diamonds containing boron are quite rare. Gray diamonds usually have high concentrations of hydrogen. Furthermore, it is believed that a gray diamond may be a black diamond that is not thoroughly saturated. Most diamonds will attribute their color to trace elements, but black diamonds, being opaque in nature, will contain inclusions of graphite and iron to produce the black color. Black diamonds will not produce the brilliance and luster like any other diamond of color, but they have found their way into jewelry creating a vogue-like genre.
Fancy diamonds will not be able to take over the white diamond industry for the pure reason of their lack of abundance. It is for that reason, colored diamonds will forever have a special place in our love for diamonds that look and sparkle like no other gemstone mother nature has to offer.