What Makes a Natural Pink Diamond Pink?

In the rarefied world of Natural Color Diamonds, pink diamonds have always been a mystery. Not only are pink diamonds among the rarest of the rare Natural Color Diamonds, the source of their color pink continues to elude scientists. Let’s take a closer look at what makes a natural pink diamond pink.


Not a Trace

According to the Gemological Institute of America, the foremost authority on grading diamonds, only one in 10,000 diamonds mined has enough natural color to be called a Natural Fancy Color Diamond… and of those, only 0.1% are natural pink diamonds. Other diamonds owe their natural colors to the presence of trace elements. For instance, the element boron is found in natural blue diamonds, while nitrogen is the cause of color for yellow diamonds. But there is no scientific evidence that trace elements are the cause of color for a pink diamond.


Atomic Level Color

In 2019, citing breakthrough gemological research, GIA reported that the color in a pink diamond is caused by “color centers,” which can selectively absorb light in the visible region of the spectrum. They are the result of lattice defects, or imperfections in the arrangement of the atoms in a crystal. These defects can sometimes cause pink graining in the diamond crystal. The intensity of the color depends on the amount of pink graining present.

However, the cause of these atomic defects is still unknown.

“Don’t let the word ‘defect’ throw you,” says GIA-certified gemologist and Fancy Color Diamond expert Brian Denney of Gems of Note. “It is precisely these natural atomic defects in the lattice of the diamond, formed millions of years ago miles below the Earth’s surface, that make natural pink diamonds so remarkably beautiful… and so rare.”


Argyle Pink Diamonds

For the past few decades, the Argyle mine in Western Australia has been the world’s most important source of natural pink diamonds; yet while Argyle accounts for 90% of all pink diamonds mined, the actual findings are extremely rare.

Rio Tinto Ltd., the mine’s owner, reports that more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds have been produced by the Argyle mine. Pink diamonds represent less than 1% of total production.

“To put this rarity in even greater perspective, consider that the Argyle mine, the world’s main source of natural pink diamonds, is scheduled to cease production by the end of 2020,” says Denney.

“It is expected that Natural Fancy Pink Diamonds, especially Argyle Pink Diamonds, will increase in value as the supply decreases,” he adds.

Jewelry historian and Financial Times contributor Vivienne Becker puts it another way. Writing in FT’s How to Spend It magazine, she asks: “Enmeshed as they are in legends surrounding their otherworldly colours and their origins in land that has been sacred to the Aborigines for thousands of years, is it possible that APDs (Argyle Pink Diamonds) could also achieve a near-mythical quality akin to that of Golconda diamonds from India’s earliest gem mines?”

For more information, or to arrange a private appointment to view an important Argyle Pink Diamond from the 2019 Argyle Pink Diamonds Signature Tender, please contact Brian Denney, FGA, GG, at (217) 370-5795.