Jewelry Guide

10 Things to Know About Green Diamonds

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Green diamonds are highly prestigious, known for their rarity and value. They’re exceedingly rare, with only a very small number of high-quality green diamonds in existence.

According to the GIA, only 0.4% of all diamonds submitted to the lab in the last decade were green, while pure green diamonds were even rarer.

These stones come in small sizes, with the largest green diamond ever to be auctioned coming in at just 5.03 carats. Needless to say, it sold for a record-breaking price at $16.8 million.

With all that said, what makes green diamonds so special? Is it simply its rarity? Or is there more?

Reasons to buy green diamonds

How Does a Green Diamond Get Its Color?

Loose green diamond cushion cut
Green diamonds by James Allen. See more here.

Diamonds are formed when organized carbon atoms are pressurized and bound together. A perfect, colorless diamond appears when the stone is chemically pure and structurally perfect.

Most colored diamonds, on the other hand, are affected with “impurities” in the chemical bonding or “defects” in the crystalline structure. Green diamonds, however, acquire their color from an extremely rare process of natural irradiation.

A green diamond may form if the earth where the carbon deposits lie contains highly radioactive material, such as radioactive uranium.  The stone is exposed to atomic radioactivity during its formation, sometimes lasting for millions of years.  

This radiation can displace carbon atoms in the diamond from their positions and changes the rock’s ability to absorb and refract light, allowing it to reflect the green color on its surface. The longer it is exposed to radiation, the more vivid the green becomes.

While radiation is dangerous, green diamonds are harmless, as it contains no harmful chemicals. It’s simply the green light being reflected on the crystal. The stone only retains the radioactive stains and not the radioactive properties of the material.

How Are Green Diamonds Graded?

The most important quality factor of green diamonds is its color, which can range from faint green hues to vivid, vibrant shades.  

The GIA has a special color-grading system for fancy colored diamonds, considering the hue, tone, and saturation of the stone.

  • Hue refers to the primary color of the stone, the tint which appears on the surface (i.e., blue, red, green, yellow).
  • Tone refers to how light or how dark the color is, with the faintest grade nearing transparency while the darkest leaning to black.
  • Saturation refers to how heavy the color appears on the stone. The more vivid, deeper colors are graded higher on the chart.
green diamond’s intensity chart
Image taken from www.leibish.com.

Green-colored diamonds can range from faint green to fancy deep green, the more vivid colors being the rarest. These are the terms used to grade green diamonds:

  • Faint Green
  • Very Light Green
  • Light Green
  • Fancy Light Green
  • Fancy Green
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid
  • Fancy Deep

Green diamonds also tend to have secondary colors, which are categorized as:

  • Yellow
  • Yellowish
  • Blue
  • Bluish
  • Brown
  • Brownish
  • Gray
  • Grayish
  • Gray Yellowish
  • Grayish Yellowish

The intensity of the green diamond and its secondary hues (if any) result in a wide range of possible categories that these stones can be divided into.

These should be clearly stated in the description of the stone. In the above example, the diamond is categorized as a Fancy Intense Green stone with a Bluish secondary hue.

Are Chameleon Diamonds Green Diamonds?

Chameleon diamonds are a variety of colored diamonds that normally possess a green color but can change from brown to yellow, depending on light and heat exposure.

When heated or kept in the dark, they can turn to bright yellow temporarily. As they cool down or are gradually exposed to light, they turn back to their original green hue.

There is no exact explanation as to why this happens though, and they remain one of the mysteries of the diamond world.

Are Treated Green Diamonds Bad?

Artificially irradiated green diamonds are easier to find and are also less expensive. They are a great alternative to expensive natural green diamonds.

Bear in mind that enhanced diamonds are not fake diamonds, as many shoppers erroneously believe. They are created by exposing a colorless diamond to certain treatments, which then causes the stone to acquire shades of green. While they’re not genuine green diamonds, they’re still made from a diamond and have all the benefits that brings.

Make sure to obtain a grading report from a reputable lab such as GIA or IGS when you buy a treated green diamond. This certificate will verify the origin of the stone.

What are Synthetic, a.k.a. Lab-Created, Green Diamonds?

Loose synthetic green diamond
Synthetic green diamond by Brilliant Earth. See more here.

Synthetic diamonds, also called lab-created or man-made diamonds, are grown in a lab under conditions that imitate the natural environment required to create green diamonds. The diamonds produced in this way are identical to their natural counterparts.  

Lab-created green diamonds are rare and expensive to produce. They can still be extremely expensive, even though they’re much more affordable than natural green diamonds.

The processes in which natural and synthetic green diamonds are produced are so similar that most green diamonds are submitted to the GIA to test its “origin of color” before they are sold on the market.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

One way to tell natural and synthetic green diamonds apart is from the green or brown radiation stains found in natural green diamonds. These stains cannot be copied in a simulated environment.

These stains only appear on the surface of a stone and are easily removed through faceting and polishing. However, polishers often leave the stains intentionally as it indicates that the stone is natural.

What Pros do Green Diamond have in Jewelry?

Green diamonds may be difficult to find, but for those lucky enough to own them, they offer the following benefits:

  • Durability: Green diamonds rank 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Emeralds, another popular green gemstone, rank lower on the list at 7.5 – 8 and are less durable. Other green gems are farther down the scale with tourmaline at 7 -7.5 and peridot at 6.5-7. This makes it perfect for daily wear, such as on an engagement ring.
  • Brilliance: Green diamonds are extremely brilliant. Its crystalline structure can refract light in a way that other gemstones cannot, allowing it to exude a unique kind of brilliance.
  • Value and Rarity: Green diamonds are exceptionally rare. Pure green diamonds are incredibly rare and are often sought after by collectors. Green diamonds with secondary hues are less expensive but are still much more valuable than all other green-colored gems.

What are the Best Green Diamond Engagement Ring Styles?

An excellent option for engagement rings, green diamonds are durable, valuable and have beautiful sparkle.

By choosing the right setting and metal color for the stone, you can accentuate its green hues.

Green diamond ring
Green diamond ring by Almaza Jewelry. Check price here.

Design-wise, green diamonds are highly versatile and go well with any metal color.

They have a vintage look when paired with rose or yellow gold, but when set in white metals, green diamonds have a contemporary and stylish look.

Halo ring settings tend to bring out the color and add sparkle to the ring, while a green diamond solitaire ring emphasizes the color and size of the stone.

If you want to enhance the green color of a light-colored green diamond, consider a rose gold prong setting or bezel setting. Pair this with a diamond halo or side stones. The rose gold setting accentuates the diamond’s color, and when contrasted with the bright sparkle of the diamonds, the green diamond can appear darker.

We recommend searching through James Allen’s range of green diamonds, and pair it with an exclusive setting from their collection to create your own engagement ring.

What Does Green Diamond Symbolize?

Green diamond symbolism

Apart from its symbolism of abundance (which is ironic considering its exceeding rarity!), the peaceful quality of green and its ability to soothe the eye often associates green diamond with safety, stability, and endurance.

A green diamond survives years of exposure to harmful radioactivity and comes out as a rare and beautiful precious gem, made even more beautiful through the years by the combination of growth and suffering, nurture and struggle.

This makes it an excellent symbol for engagement rings and commitment jewelry.

What are the Most Famous Green Diamonds?

Because green diamonds are so rare, only a handful of them have ever been found. These stones are legendary and have their own backstories. Some popular examples are:

  • The Ocean Dream: The name comes from its unique fancy deep blue-green shade that resembles the crystalline image of a deep ocean.
  • The Dresden Green: Weighing about 41 carats, the Dresden Green is the biggest known natural green diamond ever to have been discovered. This continues to be the largest natural green diamond. What makes it stand out is that it has perfect saturation, with the green hues equally spread within the stone.
  • The Chopard Chameleon: What makes the Chopard Chameleon and other chameleon diamonds unusual is their ability to change color to suit their environment.
  • The Aurora Green: The most expensive green diamond to have been auctioned, this stone weights 5.03 carats and sold for a record-breaking $16.8 million.

Where Should You Buy Green Diamonds?

Searching for authentic green diamonds is a daunting task. If this is beyond your budget, there are many options for heat-treated and synthetic green diamonds.

James Allen: A reputable trustworthy company with years of experience in the diamond trade. Their high-quality diamond imagery makes examining the diamond easy and allows you to pick the best stone for you. They have a small but decent collection of green diamonds listed on their site. Talk to their Diamond Experts for free advice and information on purchasing the right stone.

Brilliant Earth: Ideal if you’re looking for quality synthetic green diamonds. Brilliant Earth is known for their commitment to ethical metals and gemstones and offer great after-sales policies and customer service.

Etsy: For alternative green gemstones, we suggest checking out Etsy’s wide range of jewelry. You’ll find mined and grown green diamonds, green moissanite, cubic zirconia and emeralds, among others. 

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