Last updateWed, 01 Apr 2020 1pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Glorious Green

JarrettDiamond fans are only beginning to appreciate that their favorite sparkler is produced in colors - naturally. While they are all mesmerizing - the diamond stories of how they acquired their color adds another layer of fascination to the mix.

Fancy color diamonds as they are referred to, are produced in a jaw-dropping array of tints. Each color has its own wide range of variations owing to the level of saturation, and other modifying colors that affect its overall look. Like people, each fancy color diamond is individually produced with distinct traits.

Some color diamonds acquired their glamour with the addition of chemical impurities in the carbon crystal. This enigmatic process happens deep within the earth (let’s say 100 miles down) during the formative stage of a diamond’s creation. Looking for a beautiful blue? That diamond will have come in contact with boron in its formation. Yearning for yellow? Those sunny stones had a boost of nitrogen in their composition.

But what about a glorious green? Here’s where the story takes another turn completely. It seems that green diamonds came in contact with natural gamma radiation that was present in the earth where the diamond was being formed. The more intense the exposure, the denser the coloration.

Here’s something else to consider. Since this action occurred from outside the stone so to speak, much of the green tint may be located on the skin of the crystal. It takes an expert cutter to know exactly how to cut a green rough to keep the color and also to push it (by way of careful faceting) to produce its optimum hue.

Gemstone lovers in the Southern California area have been in for a special treat this winter. The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum (nhm.org) has been exhibiting “Green Diamonds; Natural Radiance” running through April 1, 2018. It’s a rare opportunity to not only see a fancy green diamond up close, but to experience the wide range of greens with several important fancy greens appearing side by side.

Although there are very few fancy greens discovered annually, they are mostly found in Africa and South America. Some greenies have a yellow back color - or even a bit of blue or brown. Green diamond descriptions are expressed in color terms of Mint, Grass, or Forest green. They are color graded from Light (the least rare variety) to Fancy, Intense, and finally Vivid - the most prized and rare color grade of this subset.

No two are alike, making each a marvel unto itself. These modifying colors affect pricing and value. So, lighter stones with secondary modifying colors may offer more affordable options to consumers. 

When a collector wants something no-one else has, or wants to create their signature statement, adding a glorious green diamond to their jewelry wardrobe may be a beautiful solution.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).