The allure of natural green diamonds

Coloured diamonds have a distinctive look about them and none more so than the rare green variety. Here we take a look at their history, make up and why they are so fascinating.

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Why green

It may sound rather explosive, but the green colour in a diamond is the direct result of exposure to radiation; this can be naturally occurring or laboratory man-made. So what is the difference? Natural radiation is when the diamond is exposed to radioactive uranium from rocks near the surface of the earth. Man-made radiation happens when using a linac – a linear accelerator – gamma rays or even a nuclear reactor.

The colour green

Interestingly, both natural and treated green coloured diamonds look the same. However, the difference in their value is huge. Naturally occurring green diamonds are extremely rare and most definitely very valuable and would be a coveted possession as a Diamond Eternity Ring. When it comes to authenticating a green diamond, gemmologists can come a bit unstuck, as both naturally occurring and laboratory made radiation have similar properties.

Natural beauty

One way of authenticating the natural from the not so natural is to look for radiation stains; these are green or brown surface spots. They are often removed in a laboratory setting. Treated ones often have homogenous colour throughout. A large ultrasonic cleaner such as the ones you can find at can be used for cleaning items that are oddly shaped and contain indentations like gems, but you need to ensure that you use the correct machinery for your needs.

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Celebrities and royalty alike are fans of green diamonds with one of the most famous being the Dresden Green, the largest known natural green diamond, weighing in at an impressive 41 carats.

And fortune

It is thought it originates from India, making its way to London around 1726. Its onward journey and history makes for fascinating reading. Bought by Friedrich Augustus 1, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, it was then sold in 1741 to another Friedrich Augustus – this one the II – and set into an Order of the Golden Fleece badge.

It is still in existence today and is stored in a museum in Dresden, where it has been for more than 200 years. Such is its value that in 1988 it was moved to a safe fortress for safekeeping, confirming not only its allure but the importance that is placed upon it. More research is undoubtedly needed on these world revered gems.

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