Natural Red Diamond

Written by: Hagai Bichman



Time to read 7 min

Discover how rare & coveted natural red diamonds form colors unparalleled in nature 

Fractional atomic deformations structurally filter light into pure crimson fire, by one-in-a-billion geologic odds. Just 30 surface yearly. Formed in primordial chaos a billion years ago, they now fetch over $2M per carat, eclipsing all records. As pinnacles of investment & desire, glimpse their adventurous histories: Brazilian mine finds in the 1700s; Mughal Empire crown jewels; disappearing & resurfacing with European aristocrats. Revealing how even the toughest structures occasionally crack under pressure to distill legendary beauty from chaos.

Where and when were the first natural red diamonds discovered ?

red diamondThe first recorded discovery of rare natural red diamonds dates back to the early 1700s in colonial Brazil. Several bright crimson to pinkish red pebble-sized crystal fragments were unearthed from alluvial deposits in the state of Minas Gerais alongside colorless stones and exported to Europe.

These Brazilian mine diamonds astonished royalty and gem aficionados with their extraordinarily vibrant hue unmatched by other ruby or garnet gems. Their origins stoked immediate intrigue since no one could decipher how these red diamonds developed their singular coloring inside the Earth without any detectable impurities.

For the next century, red diamonds surfaced sporadically in India, Indonesia and South Africa in similarly small alluvial deposits less than half a carat. With jeweler skills still developing, most became carved into rose-tinted carved crystals and beads known as briolettes for Indian and Asian jewelry as their form remained a mystery. So while stunning red diamonds circulated within regal and ecclesiastical collections for 200 years, knowledge of their origins stayed elusive - making their eventual geology revelations even more revelatory.

How did famous red like the Moussaieff Red get their distinctive color ?

The Moussaieff Red remains among the largest known natural red diamonds at 5.11 carats, showcasing an exceptionally pure crimson hue internationally graded as 'Fancy Red'. Like all colored diamonds, its distinctive color arises from structural anomalies and mineral traces absorbed into the carbon crystal lattice during complex subterranean formation processes.

Today's scientific understanding reveals that crystallized diamond traces began forming deep underground over 1-3 billion years ago, subjected to tremendous heat and pressure conditions. Their distinct red pigmentation derives from plastic deformation of the entire diamond matrix as these solidifying crystals endured fractional shifts in placement of carbon atoms, inflicting dynamic stress forces.

Specifically, observes suggest the Moussaieff Red's pure intense color without secondary hues indicates likely plastic deformation alongside a minimal presence of hydrogen atoms dispersed through its structure. These contribute red-orange segregated absorbance bands. Similar trace elements introduce yellows and pinks into other natural fancy color diamonds like the famed Pumpkin orange.

But unlike other diamond colors tied to specific impurities, red diamonds owe their unmatched saturated color and record value entirely to this exceptional plastic distortion making their lattice capable of absorbing nearly 45% of visible light wavelengths. That translates to a fiery crimson brilliance igniting fiery passion in turn.

So in essence, the Moussaieff Red's rich tendencies originate from the tremendous primordial forces that birthed its structural matrix - a one-in-a-billion meeting of magic and science culminating in nature's most spellbinding masterpiece.

How rare are red diamonds compared to other diamond colors, and why are they so scarce ?

Of the billions of diamonds unearthed and millions registered by leading gemological institutes annually, barely 20 to 30 red diamonds over 0.1 carats are authenticated worldwide by gem labs each year. Compared even to other fancy color diamonds like blues and yellows with market shares of less than 0.1%, red diamonds constitute only 0.0001% or less of diamonds in existence - making them astronomically rare.

The primary reason red diamonds are outliers in scarcity owes to the very specific conditions required to produce that elusive pinkish-red to crimson hue in nature. As the hardest substances on Earth, diamonds’ durability depends on their dense crystal perfection. Red diamonds form almost exclusively when that matrix structure endures localized systemic stresses while solidifying - without fractures that may have ruined integrity.

These fractional lattice distortions capable of triggering spectral redness can only originate from severe short-range tonnage created by shifting of the geoscape. Reports suggest red diamond Mother Rock formations require ultra-specific levels of compression paired with regional igneous intrusions introducing heat convection currents to destabilize the bonds between carbon atoms.

That pinpoint combination of primordial chaos enables subsequent plastic deformation. Absent or exceeded, carbon crystallizes as colorless or graphite. So serendipity births the world’s red diamonds in quantities so minute, each one discovered feels nothing short of a miracle gift from the planet itself - a cosmic lyric of beauty declaring rarity the ultimate exclusivity.

How has the value and price of significant red diamonds changed over time at jewelry auctions ?

From the first known sale in 1837 of the irregular 5.03 carat Rajah of Malwah at $10,600 up to today’s record-shattering auction at Sotheby’s of the 15 carat De Beers CTF Pink Star oval for over $71 million in 2017, exceptional red diamonds have exponentially exploded in auction value thanks to extreme rarity and mystique.

Until the mid 1990s, most major red diamonds traded privately between royalty, celebrities and exclusive collectors rather than publically. But over the past 30 years, top auction houses have serially shattered their own highest per carat records to repeatedly make colored diamond history. This reflects both surging world demand and their godlike elevation to globally recognized luxury investment assets.

Christie’s sale of 2.26ct Argyle Ever glow in 2020 at $2 million per carat marked an eight-fold price jump within only three years of its previous purchase. As the steepest value gains across collectibles, red diamonds now far outstrip many blue chip fine art works for ROI potential amidst soaring appetites, especially in Asia. They’re now in essence priceless - worth hundredfold premiums over regular diamonds thanks to hallmark status conveying ultimate prestige.

So while diamond prices fluctuate across decades, red diamonds have risen astronomically beyond tangible frameworks. Now the world’s most concentrated form of wealth, their unmatched luster and legend seems to magnetically intensify allure and value exponentially throughout generations. Possessing a red diamond represents the crown jewel apex of collecting refinement and rarity.

Who are some of the famous historic owners of remarkable red diamonds, and what made their stories significant ?

Owning the limited red diamonds surfacing over the past three centuries became prime symbols of hereditary power, conferring immediate celebrity status through lineage or conquest upon their elite collectors. But a few iconic named red diamonds stand apart for the extraordinary adventures tying them to great leaders.

The triangular 8.05 carat Taj-i-Mah fountain ornament was originally set into Emperor Shah Jahan’s bejeweled Peacock Throne as the Mughal Empire’s ultimate treasure in 1635. Upon looting and disassembly of that greatest seat of power, the gem disappeared for centuries before mysteriously reappearing in jewelry of Orange dynasty nobility as the modern Taj-i-Mah.

Likewise, the oval Brunswick Blue weighing over 7 carats oscillated between British and German European aristocracy for generations after discovery in India, before the city of Brunswick commandeered its public sale to regain solvency after financial crashes. Its vanishing and reappearance carried symbolic weight of resisting oppression.

And jewel heists surrounding the Hancock Red matched any Hollywood film caper. Stolen in transit to Sotheby’s for auction in 1987 after intense intrigue surrounding its ownership, it remained lost for years, compounding its notoriety to intertwine with legends of lost treasure and the thrills of reclaimed victory against thieves of beauty.

So red diamonds encapsulate not just ultra rarity but adventure and intrigue woven into histories of wars, conquests and serendipity - granting them provenance unmatched by any other gem as coveted symbols of cultural legacy and resisting the ravages of time.

Do lab-created red diamonds possess the same visual properties, and do they offer any ethical advantages ?

Thanks to remarkable technological innovation over the past decade, lab-grown diamonds can now be fabricated in vivid red hues through advanced chemical vapor deposition techniques mimicking natural conditions. But differences arise in underlying structure and consequent optical effects.

While lab-grown reds showcase impressive saturation, they currently lack the pure primary red spectra possible from plastic lattice deformation in natural diamonds. Instead, man made red color relies on introduced nitrogen traces causing orange-red absorption alongside secondary hues. Rare natural red diamonds owe their pure crimson singularly to that elusive atomic shift.

Visual similarities do enable lab red diamonds as convincing simulants, especially within jewelry. But side-by-side against a true natural red diamond, trained eyes can discern subtle giveaways in refraction, luminosity gradients and undesirable color undertones that undermine the spellbinding scarlet purity only nature can weave.

Ethically however, engineered red diamonds offer significant advantages in sustainability, transparency and access. Responsible production allows more lovers to share the magic while minimizing harmful mining footprints. Couples can prioritize ethics without sacrificing beauty.

So while the unmatched luster and legacy of natural red diamonds endures as pinnacles of rarity, lab-grown rouge innovation decently replicates their fire and passion - demystifying their extravagance through a lens of empowerment and collective celebration rather than restriction.

Will natural red diamonds continue to be considered the pinnacle of rarity and value in the colored diamond market ?

As engineered diamonds continue permeating mainstream fine jewelry spaces with improved technological capacities, natural red diamonds seem poised to only amplify their prestige as pinnacles of concentrated desire over coming decades - much like fine art market enthusiasm for masterpieces accelerates simultaneously with print reproductions democratizing recognizably.

Like da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi shattering auction records after fading into obscurity, the mineral miracles of natural red diamonds cannot be replicated by machines, no matter how precisely. Their alluring backstories indelibly etched by the hands of geology and happenstance make them not just marvels to behold, but objects that reshape imaginings of just how wondrous our planet can be.

While other fancy colors will retain high value, none possess the same spectral magic distilled from eons by implausible odds that electrifies the soul upon glimpsing an internally lit natural red diamond, as if seeing a meteor frozen in time. Just thirty surface yearly - on par with elephants born albino.

So despite flux, natural red diamonds will likely soar exponentially as the most concentrated repositories of fortune, glory and cosmic serendipity on Earth - glittering crystallized blood drops coagulated from the scarcest cracks in creation’s very blueprint. No other substance can match their legend or illicit such insatiable marvel. They will forever dazzle as nature's finest masterpiece.