Rare pink diamond

Written by: Hagai Bichman

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Time to read 10 min

Some of history's most famous rare pink diamond jewelry creations have prominently included stunning large pink diamonds,

especially over the past two centuries. Here are five examples of legendary gem-set pieces anchored by exceptional pink diamonds:

The Graff Pink This magnitude emerald cut diamond weighing 24.78 carats, graded Fancy Intense Pink by the GIA, sold for a record $46 million at auction in 2010 to renowned jeweler Laurence Graff. Graff meticulously cut the raw pink diamond himself over two years to optimize its dazzling color.

What causes the pink color in diamonds ?

The pink color in natural diamonds is caused by plastic deformation of the diamond crystal structure that occurred during its formation deep underground. This deformation causes gaps or spaces between carbon atoms that then trap trace elements like nitrogen or boron. The nitrogen or boron impurities then absorb light at all wavelengths except the wavelength seen as pink, giving the diamond its soft pink hue.

In contrast, pink diamonds created in labs get their color from controlled additions of nitrogen, boron, or other elements to pure carbon crystals as they are being formed. By carefully controlling the type and amount of impurity added, lab-created pink diamonds can take on colors ranging from pale blush pink to vivid fuchsia pink. Unlike their natural counterparts, no plastic deformation occurs in the crystal structure of lab-grown pink diamonds.

So in summary, pink lab diamonds get their color directly from added impurities while natural pink diamonds are indirectly colored by impurities that become embedded in deformed areas of the crystal structure during formation. Examining the crystal structure at the atomic level is the only definite way to differentiate between the two origins of pink color in diamonds.

Where are most natural pink diamonds found ?

Most natural pink diamonds originate from just a few locations around the world. Up until recent years, the Argyle diamond mine in remote Western Australia was the world's primary source of natural pink diamonds. In operation for over 30 years, the Argyle mine was known for producing about 90% of the global supply of natural pink and red diamonds. The mine was specially known for its "Argyle Pink Diamonds" trademark for vivid purplish pink diamonds unearthed there.

The Argyle mine ceased operations in 2020. Today, natural pink diamond discoveries primarily occur in India and South Africa. Specific mines generating recent major pink diamond finds include the Golconda mines in southern India and the Premier Mine in South Africa. Pink diamonds from both locations are famous for their intensely saturated hot pink hues. Beyond these areas, some pink natural diamonds have also sporadically been found in mines in Brazil, Russia, and Canada, although substantial finds are rare.

So in summary - Historically, the most prolific source was Australia's Argyle mine. But with Argyle closed, active natural pink diamond mining has shifted mainly to India and South Africa today. Lab created pink diamonds are also increasingly supplementing the global supply as production technologies have improved over the past decade.

What role has the Argyle mine played in the pink diamond market ?

The Argyle mine in Australia has played an enormous role in the pink diamond market - both for better and for worse. On the positive, Argyle enormously boosted global pink diamond supply from the mid-1980s through 2020. For over 30 years, Argyle reliably delivered annual supplies of pink diamonds, when before, the discovery of any pink diamond was infrequent.

At Argyle's peak in the 1990s-2000s, they supplied over 90% off the world's natural pink diamonds. Argyle became especially famous for their unique purplish-pink hue dubbed "Argyle Pink". Demand and prices for Argyle's pink diamonds steadily grew during the 1990s and 2000s as supply increased and consumers were exposed to more Argyle advertising campaigns.

Yet on the negative, critics argue Argyle also commoditized pink diamonds to a certain extent. So much consistent supply over decades somewhat eroded the extreme rarity pink diamonds previously commanded. And while still very costly, Argyle's focus on their own brand name some believe diluted the value of untreated pink diamonds in general.

Regardless, after abruptly closing their mine in 2020, Argyle's effect is still being felt. The loss of that massive supply source, while opening opportunities for others, did remove the most prominent producer - one that fundamentally shaped the pink diamond definition for a generation of jewelers and consumers.

So in summary - For better or worse, "Argyle" became nearly synonymous with natural pink diamonds due to their historic productivity and marketing. Argyle had an unmatched influence mass-introducing pink diamonds into mainstream commercial markets for over 30 years.

How rare are natural pink diamonds compared to other colored diamonds ?

Natural pink diamonds are exceptionally rare - even among fancy color diamonds they are considered extraordinarily precious. Less than one tenth of one percent of diamonds exhibit any natural color, and of those, pink diamonds account for less than 0.1% of that tiny fraction. They are surpassed in rarity only by red diamonds, which comprise just a couple dozen documented specimens in the world. In contrast, more common yellow and brown natural diamonds together make up over 80% of all naturally colored diamonds.

The extreme scarcity of pink diamonds owes to the very specific sequence of geologic events required for their formation. Trace boron and nitrogen impurities have to be present while the diamond crystal is growing. Meanwhile, stresses need to cause plastic deformation that secures those impurities in interstitial gaps in the crystal lattice. Alter even one small factor and pink color will fail to appear.

By comparisons, forces that produce yellows and browns (radiation exposure, lattice defects, etc) have much more room for variability, making them relatively abundant.

So in short - nature creates fancy color diamonds in general extremely rarely, but pink diamonds even exceed the unusual rarity of that exclusive group. Less than one in every hundred thousand rough diamonds exhibits the precise conditions needed generate to that coveted pink color. Their extreme scarcity places natural pink diamonds in their own exceptional price tier amongst fancy color diamonds.

Are pink diamonds graded differently than colorless diamonds ?

Yes, pink diamonds are graded for color differently than traditional white diamonds without color. Instead of the standard letter D-to-Z color grading scale for colorless diamonds, colored diamonds like pinks are rated using separate grading systems that specifically evaluate the hue, saturation, and tone of perceived color.

The two most common color grading methods applied to pink diamonds are classifications by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the Argyle Pink Diamond grading system originally developed by Rio Tinto's Argyle diamond mine in Australia.

The GIA system assigns color descriptors, modifiers, and numeric grades focused on assessing factors like:

  • Hue - What is the dominant color? Pink, purple-pink, orange-pink, etc.
  • Tone - How light or dark is the hue? Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, etc.
  • Saturation - How weakly/strongly is color concentrated? Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Vivid, etc.

Meanwhile, the Argyle Pink Diamond scale assesses visual color appeal, rarity, and diamond quality on a 1 to 9 scale plus special Elite category grades.

So in summary - Yes, specialized color grading methodology is used to evaluate pink diamonds rather than the customary white diamond grades. These color-specific systems have been developed to capture the most market-relevant attributes of color appearance, strength, and rarity for pink diamonds.

What famous historical pieces of jewelry have featured large pink diamonds ?

Some of history's most famous jewelry creations have prominently included stunning large pink diamonds, especially over the past two centuries. Here are five examples of legendary gem-set pieces anchored by exceptional pink diamonds:

The Graff PinkThis magnitude emerald cut diamond weighing 24.78 carats, graded Fancy Intense Pink by the GIA, sold for a record $46 million at auction in 2010 to renowned jeweler Laurence Graff. Graff meticulously cut the raw pink diamond himself over two years to optimize its dazzling color.

The Princie Diamond
Discovered in Golconda, India, this cushion-cut 34.65 carat pink diamond has been a prized Mughal and Nizam dynasty treasure since the 1700s. Now on display in New York, it was sold by Van Cleef and Arpels in 1960 to a private buyer for over $2 million – one of the highest prices historically up to that time.

The Williamson Pink Star Diamond This flamingo pink stone weighing 54.51 carats originated from Tanzania. The Royal Asscher company cut and polished this former rough pink stone into a step-cut pink diamond of astonishing color and clarity.

The Daria-i-Noor Diamond This pale pink brilliant-cut Iranian crown jewel weighs approximately 182 carats. First documented around the mid-1600s, this diamond has been set into Persian crowns and assorted ornamental jewelry as part of various royal Iranian treasures for centuries.

The Tiffany Diamond The legendary Tiffany Yellow Diamond worn as a necklace pendant by Audrey Hepburn in publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany’s also came paired with an unlabeled pink diamond ring weighing over 10 carats on the same necklace as a dazzling complementary pink accent.

So in short, pink diamonds have a rich history accentuating royal gems and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for elite aficionados for generations. Several choice pink diamonds remain famous today for their esteemed histories and record-setting values.

When was the first lab created pink diamond manufactured ?

The first lab grown pink diamond emerged from a lab in Russia in 1973. It was created by a team at the Russian Research Institute of Synthetic Crystals in collaboration with scientists at Moscow State University. Building upon research into manufacturing other diamond colors throughout the late 1960s, these scientists pursued replicating rare pink diamonds through carefully controlled technological processes.

Those first lab-created pink diamonds were small, included many visual imperfections, and exhibited rather weak color saturation compared to today's laboratory-grown pink diamonds. But despite their visual drawbacks, they sparked enormous interest from both research and commercial perspectives. Scientifically, they provided key insights into precisely how trace impurities and crystal structure defects influence diamond color - insights that would prove essential for improving quality down the road.

Meanwhile commercially, the fact that pink diamonds could now be manufactured in labs - opening access beyond exclusively what nature produced - immediately attracted attention within the jewelry industry. Even as early created material remained visually disappointing, they set the stage for the advancements that were to come over subsequent decades.

So while imperfect, those pioneering samples in 1973 laid critical foundations. It marked the beginning of more refined production processes for lab-grown pink diamonds in future years - now resulting in visibly beautiful, expertly colored pink lab diamonds commonly available today.

What process is used to create lab pink diamonds ?

The predominant process used to produce pink lab-created diamonds today is chemical vapor deposition, or CVD. CVD utilizes high heat, vacuum conditions, and gas reactants to deposit carbon atoms layer-by-layer onto a diamond seed substrate in a controlled chamber. Dopant atoms like boron or nitrogen can also be precisely incorporated to influence the color.

In more detail - a small rough diamond seed plate is placed inside the CVD growth chamber and heated to temperatures over 1,500° F. Hydrocarbon gases (typically methane and hydrogen) are then introduced along with boron or nitrogen dopants. The extreme heat breaks the gases down into reactive radicals that settle onto the diamond substrate surface. This deposits more diamond crystal layers atom-by-atom while also embedding desired dopant atoms.

Key benefits of CVD for creating pink diamonds include the process's versatility and precision. Variables like gas composition, pressure, substrate surface, and temperature can be programmed to sculpt diamonds with optimized shapes, impurities, and eventual color. The conditions can be tweaked until vibrant pink color is stably expressed while minimizing unwanted inclusions or structural flaws.

So in summary - hot, highly controlled gas reactors depositing carbon plus specialized dopants onto mined diamond seeds enables contemporary production of beautiful pink lab-grown diamonds through wondrous technological science applied at the atomic level!

How has the price of pink diamonds changed over time ?

Prices for top quality natural pink diamonds have overall substantially increased - especially in the past two decades. However, the rate of price appreciation has varied over different periods. In the 1980s, after early major finds like from Australia's Argyle mine, supply rose faster than demand - so pink diamond prices actually declined modestly over the decade.

The 1990s saw supply and demand equalizing, transitioning prices toward stabilization. Strong marketing campaigns by miners like Argyle increased consumer exposure and interest in pink diamonds as a luxury product. So while Argyle continued supplying quantity, the market grew appreciative of prestige and scarcity attributes that distinguished finer pink diamonds.

Price growth for top pink diamonds accelerated in the 2000s decade. Continued marketing further cemented their status as an aspirational gem for affluent buyers. Yet low yields of finer material among abundant mining output awakened realization even among retailers that premium pinks were extraordinarily rare despite heavier marketing. Supply of truly investment-grade pinks fell short of rising desire.

Today, loss of supply from the 2020 Argyle closure, improved quality of synthetic pink diamonds, provenance distinction programs, and record-setting auction prices have all further increased the value of untreated, naturally-sourced pink diamonds of fine color grades - a trend expected to persist into the foreseeable future.

How can you tell a natural pink diamond from a lab created one ?

Determining whether a polished pink diamond is natural or lab-grown relies upon scientific testing and detailed professional inspection of certain visual features by gemologists.

From a technological angle, lab and natural pink diamonds can be conclusively differentiated through advanced spectroscopic and microscopic analyses of their crystal structures and impurity elements. Methods like Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, photo luminescence, and absorption spectroscopy or instruments like strong shortwave ultraviolet lamps can detect characteristic differences at microscopic levels.

However visually, only trained gemologists employing 10x magnification and ideal lighting conditions can spot subtle natural-vs-lab indicators. These include minor growth structures or inclusion patterns that develop differently in natural or engineered environments. Occasionally, a lab diamond may show laser inscription hallmarks inside the stone.

Yet while visible distinctions do exist, expert aids remain essential for reliable validation. The differences are extremely fine. Countless lab-grown pink diamonds possess no easily observable dissimilarities to natural diamonds without advanced professional inspection.

So in short - more than the average eye alone, scientific study or gemologist analysis under ideal conditions is key to distinguishing natural diamonds from increasingly sophisticated lab grown imitations. Advanced testing paired with meticulous inspection of subtle internal features allows conclusive verification.