Diamonds in the Rouge

Though widely perceived as colorless, diamonds are infrequently achromatic and can occur in every hue of the rainbow. In fact, color is one of the four standards for judging the beauty and worth of a diamond (the others being carat, cut, and clarity). When it comes to diamond color, there are two seemingly contradictory principles: less is more, and more is more. The fewer impurities and flaws, the more transparent the diamond and the higher the value. Yet rare colors such as blue, green, pink, orange, and black are highly desirable and even museum-worthy. A faint straw yellow will detract from a diamond’s value, while a deep yellow is prized.

“White” diamonds are classified according to their degree of transparency. Most white diamonds actually contain yellow or brown tints. The Gemological Institute of America developed a scale of diamond color saturation, ranging from D (colorless) to Z (noticeable light yellow or brown). Diamond color is determined by comparing a gem to a master set. Special folded cards are also used to evaluate color. Dara Horn poetically describes how diamond color is influenced by context. Three diamonds that look identically transparent against deep black velvet reveal their differences when placed in the crease of white paper: “The first sat tarnished on the paper, throbbing a bruised and tawny color; the second glowed a dim yellow like a dying gas lamp in an old painting. The last one, exposed and revealed, blazed burning white.”

When exotic hues are abundant, their intensity and consistency elevate the value. Red diamonds, for example, are the most highly sought after, reaping up to one million dollars per carat. The brilliant red color is a result of minute flaws in the gem’s atomic structure. By some accounts, the waiting period for a single red diamond to hit the market is over fifteen years. Green diamonds range from half to three-quarters the price of red diamonds. Bombardment from high-energy gamma radiation gives them their special hue.

The diamond spectrum is divided into four rays:
1. yellow passing into wine into cinnamon brown into black,
2. pale green passing into yellowish-green,
3. bluish gray passing into Prussian blue, and
4. pink passing into rose red
(The Eclectic Magazine, Jan. – April 1853).

by swamibu

by jurvetson


Some Diamond Color Palette Inspiration:

Diamond Anatomy True Diamond

My Brightest Diamond Crazy Diamond


Diamond Dust diamond white

blood diamond diamond



Heather McIntyreAbout the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow

Author: Prof. Oddfellow