Back in the early 19th century, the world supply of natural color diamonds simply couldn’t meet the demand for them. Their scarcity meant prices were extremely high, and naturally colored diamonds were the preserve of only the world’s elite. Scientists began to experiment with ways of creating diamonds to meet this demand, initially using vegetable dyes to coat the stones. Understandably, these coatings were not permanent. The first breakthrough came when in 1905 English chemist Sir William Crookes exposed some diamonds to radiation by burying them in radium-bromide salts for an extended period of time, creating the very first permanently enhanced blue diamonds.
The problem, of course, was that these diamonds were dangerously radioactive after the process. Nevertheless, Crookes had proved that the color of a diamond could be altered, and the search was now on to find a safe means of doing so.
In 1942, JM Cork, a scientist at the University of Michigan, managed to safely create green diamonds using a hi-tech device known as a Cyclotron. This machine bombarded diamonds with high-speed alpha and proton particles, and although the resulting green diamonds remained radioactive for a few hours after the process, it soon dissipated, leaving perfectly safe and permanently green color diamonds.
After the creation of safely irradiated diamonds, the development of color diamonds quickly escalated. In the early 1950’s, scientists found that heating irradiated diamonds to a high temperature in a process known as annealing would cause them to change color even further, and a multitude of new colors were created.
Pink diamonds are extremely difficult to create, however, and achieving a clear, light pink is almost impossible through HPHT and irradiation alone. Recent advancements in coating have meant that we have been able to create a beautiful, clear light pink which we call ‘Ice Pink.’ The coating is only applied to the pavilion end of the diamond, meaning that once it is set the color cannot be altered as there is no coating on its exposed part – the table.
In the meantime, the search for answers goes on. We’re yet to solve the mystery of how certain colors – like rose pink – really appear through enhancement, while the discovery of new colors – like red – is still to be unveiled.