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Green Diamonds- Rare and Beautiful

Updated on April 18, 2011
Fancy green diamond
Fancy green diamond

Natural green diamonds are extremely rare and expensive. As a matter of fact, natural green diamonds with no other secondary hues or modifiers are so rare that most jewelers have never seen one, and will never own one.

How do natural green diamonds get their color?

Natural diamonds coming into contact with radioactive sources while beneath the surface of the earth will most likely develop green coloration. The time required may be as much as a million years or longer.

Green color in diamonds is caused by exposure to the natural radiation in the earth. At some point during its formation, the diamond may have been bombarded by alpha particles present in uranium compounds or percolating groundwater. Long exposure to alpha particles may form green spots on the surface of diamonds, or may sometimes produce thin green coatings that are easily removed during the faceting process. If however, the diamond is bombarded by beta rays, gamma rays or neutrons while buried at great depths beneath the earth’s surface, there will be a higher chance of the green color penetrating the stone to the point where the entire diamond turns green.

Hence, the problem with natural green diamonds and the reason that a good one is so expensive is because the radiation usually does not affect the entire diamond; finding a diamond that is totally green is an extremely rare event.

Where are natural green diamonds mined?

Green rough diamonds are mined in Brazil, South Africa, India, Australia, Congo, Ghana and Siberia. Olive colored diamonds have been found in the Central African Republic, the Congo and Sierra Leone. Only a small percentage of the diamonds mined at the famous Argyle mine in Australia are green.

What determines the value of a green diamond?

The value of a colored diamond in usually determined by the purity of its hue- the purer the hue, the greater the value. The one exception to this general rule applies to natural green diamonds that contain blue as a secondary color throughout them –these diamonds are even rarer than pure greens, and are therefore priced accordingly.  Bluish-Green, Blue-Green, Green-Blue, and Greenish-Blue diamonds are much rarer, and hence more expensive than a natural pure green diamond.

The GIA has made eight distinct color saturation grades for natural green diamonds:

Green diamond grading
Green diamond grading
Tip for buying a green diamond
Tip for buying a green diamond

Common color variations of green diamonds

Light Green, Fancy Light Green, Fancy Green, Fancy Bluish Green, Fancy Green Blue, Fancy Light Greenish Yellow, Fancy Deep Yellowish Green, Fancy Dark Yellowish Green, Fancy Dark Gray Green, Fancy Dark Grayish Green, Fancy Yellowish Green, Fancy Intense Green, Fancy Intense Yellow Green, Fancy Intense Yellowish Green, Fancy Vivid Green

The most famous natural green diamond

The Dresden Green
The Dresden Green

The Dresden Green

The largest green natural diamond known to be in existence today is the Dresden Green. The earliest known reference to its existence occurred in the 1700’s, when the Post Boy news sheet in London published an article about it, in its 25th- October, 27th edition.

Reports state that the Dresden Green originated in India and was purchased by Frederick Augustus the Second from a gem merchant at the Leipzig Fair in 1742.

In 1976, King Augustus commissioned a goldsmith in Vienna to incorporate the Dresden green into the design of a Golden Fleece with the Dresden White, a cushion-shaped diamond weighing 49.71 carats. In 1768 another jeweler worked the green diamond into a hat clasp along with two other white brilliants, weighing almost 40 carats total. Many smaller diamonds are also embedded in the clasp.

The Dresden Green in vault at the Albertinium Museum
The Dresden Green in vault at the Albertinium Museum

The Dresden green weighs 40.7 carats and has been classified as “apple- green” in color. It measures 29.75 × 19.88 × 10.29mm. The remarkable gem got its name from the capital of Saxony, where it has been on display for over 200 years- in the Green Vault in the Dresden Castle.

In 1988, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) examined the stone. It was proven to be of extraordinary quality, and was classified as a type IIa diamond (one of the purest forms of diamonds in the world).

The Dresden Green diamond has the potential of being internally flawless. (This means that the stone's flaws are near the outer surface, probably the pavilion of the stone, where a slight re-cutting could remove them and improve the clarity of the stone.) The GIA also graded the symmetry of the fancy green stone as good; and the polish very good.

The Dresden Green has a natural green body color. This is extremely rare- diamonds with green skins or scattered green patches are more common.

In the summer of 2000, Ronald Winston completed arrangements for the Dresden Green to be exhibited in the Harry Winston Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. It was displayed in the same room as the Hope Diamond. The Dresden Green remained at the Smithsonian until January of 2001 until it was returned to the Albertinium Museum in Dresden, where it remains to this day.



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    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 2 years ago from Jaipur


      Nice hub. My forefather Rai Badri das Bahadur Mookim owned a green diamond in the 19th century and it was exhibited in London in 1894. However, this diamond is not in possession of our family and we don't know the size and shape of the same.

      I have rated this article up and interesting.

    • Anna Sternfeldt profile image

      Anna Sternfeldt 5 years ago from Svenljunga, Sweden

      A forgotten matter is the environmental destruction when mining diamonds.