Exotic Chameleon Diamonds

Aug 11, 2016
The Color-Changing Chameleon Diamond

With fine quality diamonds, rarity equates to value. With diamonds in the normal range, value is based on the absence of color, because colorless diamonds are the rarest. With fancy color diamonds— stones outside the normal color range as determined by GIA—the rarest and most valuable colors are saturated pinks, blues, and greens. In all cases of fancy colored diamonds, even minor color differences can have a big impact on value. One of the most fascinating and exotic diamonds has to be the Chameleon Diamond, a rare and color-changing diamond that normally appears to be green yet can morph to a range of shades of the spectrum from brown to yellow.

As rare as they are, chameleon diamonds are particularly awe-inspiring because of certain qualities that no other stones possess. At the core of those characteristics is a unique power: the ability to change color. These diamonds actually adapt to their environment and temporarily switch colors, switch hues. It’s important to note that not all chameleons go from a darker hue to a light one – some shift colors in the reverse, from yellow to green.

So what actually causes this change in diamond color? While researchers are unable to thoroughly explain these color-changing behaviors, which are known as thermochromism (a switch in response to heat) and a photochromism (a switch in response to light), these diamonds all contain unusually high concentrations of hydrogen, as well as traces of nickel and nitrogen, in their crystal structure. This nitrogen-hydrogen complex could be responsible for the chameleon effect.

What makes these stones so fascinating is not only their color-changing capability, but also the fact that very little has been written about them. For these reasons, chameleon diamonds remain an intriguing phenomenon and a highly sought-after addition to any connoisseurs or investor’s collection. To date, the largest documented stone of this kind is a 31.32-carat oval-cut chameleon diamond known as the Chopard Chameleon Diamond.


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