Color in  natural diamonds: the beauty of defects

Elloise Gaillou 
Department of Mineral Sciences
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles, CA 90068

George R. Rossman
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91125, USA


In its pure form, diamond is colorless. However, in nature (or even when made in laboratories), diamonds are never composed of 100% carbon atoms. Even colorless dismonds will contain some defects: missing carbon atoms, or contain trace amounts of nitrogen or hydrogen. These minor components cause absorptin of specific wavelengths of light, giving rise to color. This article discusses various causes of color in diamonds.