I know someone who refers to all blue stones as sapphires, all green stones as emeralds and all red stones as rubies. Apparently, she has never heard of aquamarine, blue topaz, peridot, tourmaline, garnet and red topaz. If I still had my Rocks and Minerals book, I’d have loaned it to her.
I know a lot more people who think that a diamond is essentially colorless and clear like those things that hang from a crystal chandelier. Not so. Contrary to common belief, not all diamonds are colorless and clear. Diamonds come in many colors — blue, green, yellow, brown, orange, violet… Just see the Aurora Butterfly of Peace diamond collection. And some colored diamonds are more rare than the clear and colorless ones.
What accounts for the color?
The atoms that make up the diamond are so tightly bonded together that it is usually impossible for foreign elements to get in. But, on rare occasions, something else manage to penetrate the tightly-bonded atoms and that’s how colored diamonds are formed. Only three elements are able to perform that feat — nitrogen, boron and hydrogen. Boron turns a diamond blue. Nitrogen gives diamonds a tinge that range from pale yellow to brown. Purple diamonds mined in Australia exhibit a high hydrogen content. Irradiation and something called plastic deformation also transform the color of diamonds (I tried reading about plastic deformation and got a headache).
I don’t know how long it took my mother to collect the colored diamonds that went into that ring, but it must have taken a while. The result is fabulous though.
Personally, I am partial to blue diamonds but they are so rare, and large specimens are many times more rare. I wouldn’t know where to buy blue diamonds even if I had the money for such frivolity, which I don’t, so never mind.