Pink Diamond Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Pink diamond is one of nature’s rarest beauties. Often found in small quantities and typically under one carat, these incredible stones only occur at a few mines. They command some of the highest price-per-carat costs of any gemstone, and the best ones are sold only through the world's most exclusive auction houses. Some have fetched over two million dollars per carat.
13 Minute Read
Pink diamond is one of nature’s rarest beauties. Often found in small quantities and typically under one carat, these incredible stones only occur at a few mines. They command some of the highest price-per-carat costs of any gemstone, and the best ones are sold only through the world’s most exclusive auction houses. Some have fetched over two million dollars per carat.
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Pink Diamond Value
Like all fancy colored diamonds, a pink diamond’s color is evaluated using the GIA’s colored diamond color grading system. From lowest to highest, the grades for pinks are Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid. These grades come before the stone’s hue in its description — for example, Fancy light pink, Fancy Intense pink, etc.
Very light-tone pink diamonds may receive Faint, Very Light, or Light grades. Stones with darker tones can receive Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid grades. The most highly saturated stones receive a Fancy Vivid grade. Incredibly rare and beautiful, Fancy Vivid stones are the most valuable pink diamonds.
Gemologists grade pink diamond color by viewing the stone face up.
For more information on pink diamond value factors, consult our buying guide.
Does Pink Diamond Make a Good Jewelry Stone?
With a Mohs score of 10, diamond is Earth's hardest naturally occurring substance. This means only other diamonds can scratch the surface of a diamond. This makes diamond an excellent choice for everyday jewelry wear.
However, diamonds aren't indestructible. Hardness is only one measure of a gem's durability. Diamonds also have perfect cleavage, which means they tend to split along planes inside the stone. They can shatter during cutting as well from accidental blows. Like most gems, diamonds have a brittle tenacity. This means they can chip easily, particularly along the sharp edges of a girdle or at corners, like the tip of a culet or a pear cut.
Any finished diamonds should have protective jewelry settings, especially in rings. Rings tend to receive more bumps than other types of jewelry.
Matching Pink Diamonds
Matching any gems in jewelry requires large quantities of stones. To match diamonds of any color, jewelers must find stones with identical cut, color, clarity, and carat. Because natural pink diamonds are so rare, finding matching stones is challenging. On the other hand, synthetic pink diamonds make matching easier.
The History of Pink Diamond
While the use of colorless diamonds as adornment goes back at least to the 4th century BCE in India, the first recorded discovery of pink diamonds dates to the beginning of the 17th century CE. These first few gems were unearthed in the famous Kollur Mine in India. This mine operated for hundreds of years and, at its peak, saw 60,000 laborers. It produced some of the world's most celebrated fancy-colored diamonds, including the Dresden Green and the Blue Hope Diamond.
The first recorded reference to a pink diamond comes from the travel log of the French merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in 1642. He wrote of a stone weighing approximately 200 carats, owned by the Mughals of Golconda. If Tavernier's report is correct, this is the largest pink diamond ever documented.
What Causes Pink Diamond Color?
Scientists still don't have a complete understanding of all the causes of pink color in diamonds. When diamonds have a crystal structure made purely of carbon atoms perfectly aligned in a cubic system, they appear colorless. However, fancy colors in diamonds may have several causes. For example, chemical impurities in a diamond's carbon-based structure can create colors. In blue diamonds, boron has this effect. Alternatively, inclusions can also affect a diamond's color. Clouds of black graphite inclusions may make a colorless diamond appear gray or black.
The vast majority of pink diamonds get their color from several different types of irregularities in the atomic structure of the stone. These occur after the diamond has crystalized. If the diamond receives enough heat and pressure after its formation, its carbon atoms can slip out of place. This is sometimes called "natural plastic deformation." These atomic irregularities are the source of a diamond's pink hue.
Diamond crystals are extremely strong and largely resistant to this distortion when comprised purely of carbon atoms. However, about 98% of mined diamonds contain measurable amounts of nitrogen. Nitrogen slightly weakens the crystal structure, leaving it especially vulnerable to slipping under sufficient heat and pressure. Thus, nitrogen plays a significant role in creating pink color in diamonds.
Diamond Types and Nitrogen Centers
Gemologists classify diamonds into types based on whether or not they contain nitrogen. They further subdivide nitrogen-bearing diamonds based on their arrangements of nitrogen atoms.
- Type I diamonds contain nitrogen impurities. Thanks to the inherent weakness that nitrogen brings, most pink diamonds are Type I.
- Type II diamonds have no measurable nitrogen. Only a fraction of mined pink diamonds fall into this category.
There are several ways that nitrogen may be present inside a Type I diamond. Nitrogen atoms may aggregate together (Type Ia) or sit inside the crystal lattice independently (Type Ib).
When a diamond's nitrogen centers mostly have pairs of nitrogen atoms, the stone is called a Type IaA. However, if most of its nitrogen centers are made of four nitrogen atoms surrounding a vacancy of a missing carbon atom, the stone is called Type IaB.
Diamonds can (and usually do) have both Type IaA and Type IaB nitrogen centers. As a result, gemologists identify them by the dominant aggregate center type.
As a general rule, diamonds typically start as Type Ib. Then, as they sit inside the Earth's mantle, their nitrogen centers slowly convert to Type IaA, then Type IaB. This conversion process stops when the diamond reaches the surface.
Lamellae Types and Color Expression
Type I pink diamonds (of any subtype) get their color from "color centers" within their crystal lattice. These color centers are parallel or intersecting colored bands inside the stone called "lamellae" or "graining." Sheer stress and natural plastic deformation causes these bands. A small amount of squeezing causes graining to be pink, while more pressure results in brown graining.
Two types of lamellae occur in pink diamonds. Again, nitrogen impurities make the difference. When a Type I diamond's crystal lattice has more A aggregate centers than B aggregates, its pink-colored lamellae align perfectly with its octahedral plane (a natural angle of weakness in the cubic carbon structure). As a result, the pink hue only appears in these bands. The rest of the crystal appears colorless. On the other hand, when the B aggregates outnumber the A aggregates, the pink hue looks a little messier. The color isn't restricted to the lamellae.
Sometimes, Type IaA diamonds are more vividly colored than Type IaB diamonds. However, the characteristics of Type IaA versus Type IaB become difficult to distinguish when the nitrogen levels are low.
Interestingly, some sources produce more pink diamonds of one type than another. Specifically, Siberian, Canadian, and South African pink diamonds are mostly Type IaA. On the other hand, pink diamonds from Venezuela and the Argyle mine in Australia are more often Type IaB dominant.
How Pink are Pink Diamonds?
Few mined pink diamonds exhibit a pure pink hue. Instead, their colors often show secondary brown, purple, or orange modifiers. Brown and purple colors can occur in pink diamonds because they sometimes owe their expression to similar color centers.
Pink Diamond Color and Cutting
Regardless of the type of lamellae present, if the diamond has uniform pink graining throughout the body, it will have an even, highly desirable color. However, if the pink graining occurs in only a few places in the body, the diamond will have a patchy color. Either type of color will be stable. It won't fade or change over time.
Under magnification, if you view pink diamonds by looking through the graining layers from the side, you'll find much of their color concentrated in these striped color centers. As a result, diamond cutters have much to consider when working on these gems. Due to the irregularities of the graining, they must take extra care when polishing the stones, which prolongs the process. Cutters must also orient the gem so the face-up view through the table facet looks down on the graining layers rather than through them. This will make the face-up color appear as smooth as possible.
What are "Golconda Pinks?"
Type II pink diamonds, commonly called "Golconda Pinks," rarely occur in nature. The nitrogen concentration in these stones is so low that no infrared-active nitrogen is detectable. (This is why they're categorized as Type II).
These diamonds owe their pink color to nitrogen vacancy centers. These are locations where a nitrogen atom is incorporated into the lattice next to a vacancy where a carbon atom should be. For pink color to occur, these diamonds must have remained in a relatively cool environment of less than 900° C, so that their nitrogen atoms remained isolated and didn't migrate towards each other. However, it only takes a handful of nitrogen vacancy centers to cause pink color.
How to Identify Pink Diamonds
Standard Diamond Characteristics
While fancy colored diamonds, including pinks, have some properties that differ from those of colorless diamonds, they do have some in common:
- With a standard refractometer, a pink diamond's refractive index (RI) will register over the limit (OTL).
- A dispersion of 0.044.
- No birefringence or pleochroism. (Pink diamonds, like all diamonds, are singly refractive).
- Specific gravity (SG) = 3.52 (+/- 0.10).
A spectroscope reading will reveal absorption lines at 563 and 575 nm. (Although certainly the result of plastic deformation inside the crystal, some details about their origin remain a mystery). However, the broad absorption band at 550 nm represents the primary coloring agent of pink diamonds.
In addition to nitrogen pairs and four-atom groups, pink diamonds may also have the following types of color centers:
- Three nitrogen atoms surround a carbon vacancy (N3)
- Two nitrogen atoms surround a vacancy in a charge-neutral state (H3)
N3 centers will appear as a line at 415.5 nm; H3 centers will appear at 503 nm.
Pink diamonds fluoresce significantly more often than colorless diamonds. Under longwave ultraviolet (UV) light, about 35% of colorless diamonds will fluoresce, often displaying a chalky blue color. In contrast, about 84% of pink diamonds will fluoresce under longwave UV light. Some stones show an orange color, but blue remains the most common fluorescent color.
Inclusions and Other Internal Features
In terms of value, the fewer inclusions in gem-quality diamonds, the better. Nevertheless, scientists cherish these inclusions because they can reveal much information about how and where the diamond formed.
Pink diamonds may have black graphite inclusions, as many diamonds do. However, they may also contain garnet or pyroxene crystals. Some pink diamonds may contain rare minerals that only form in "super-deep" conditions in the Earth's mantle.
Pink Diamond Enhancement Techniques
Several enhancements and treatments may induce or deepen pink color in diamonds.
Irradiated pink diamonds won't have any natural graining patterns. This is a good clue that a stone's pink color is artificial. The color may also appear uneven around facet edges. Irradiated pink diamonds will likely show a strong orange fluorescence under UV light.
Nitrogen vacancy centers, characteristic of Type II diamonds ("Golconda Pinks"), are exceedingly rare in nature. However, irradiating and subsequently annealing a nitrogen-bearing diamond can create them relatively easily in laboratory settings.
Internal fractures in pink diamonds may be filled using resins or oils. Sometimes, the fillers are dyed pink to enhance the stone's color. However, this isn't considered an acceptable practice in the trade. Furthermore, the heat from jewelry repair work may cause the fillers to leak, leaving the fractures visible and the stone weaker. Fortunately, dyed fillers are usually apparent under magnification.
Are There Synthetic Pink Diamonds?
The HPHT method mimics the natural diamond growth environment within the Earth by subjecting carbon atoms to a combination of high pressure and temperature. Pink diamonds created through HPHT, especially older ones, may show moderate to strong orange or orangy red fluorescence.
During the CVD process, all the chemicals necessary to grow diamonds are aerosolized. Over time, diamond crystals form. Nitrogen vacancies color pink CVD diamonds. Like HPHT diamonds, CVD diamonds may fluoresce orange.
Because the manufacturers control the chemical environment in these processes, they can use either method to create whatever diamond color — colorless or fancy color — they wish.
Since nitrogen vacancy centers are relatively easy to create in synthetic diamonds, many lab-grown pink diamonds are Type II ("Golconda Pinks").
Can You Distinguish Synthetic from Natural Pink Diamond?
Sometimes, synthetics do show telltale signs of their origins. For example, synthetic pink diamonds may fluoresce in unusual colors. However, in many cases, only professional gem labs can determine if diamonds are natural or synthetic. Every year brings technological innovations that make separating natural and synthetic diamonds increasingly difficult.
The recent introduction of low-cost, synthetic, fancy color diamonds on the market has suddenly made these gems available to a broad consumer base. These diamonds are in no way inferior to natural stones, as they share the same physical and chemical properties. The principal difference between natural and synthetic diamonds is price.
The strongest indication that a second-hand pink diamond is synthetic is the price the owner paid. For example, an inexpensive 0.75-ct, deeply saturated pink diamond is most likely synthetic or treated. Unfortunately, a high price point doesn't always mean a high-quality pink diamond is natural.
Where is Pink Diamond Found?
The Kollur Mine is now shuttered, but other locations still produce large, gem-quality pink diamonds. The following well-known sources have also yielded some famous stones.
The Argyle Mine, Kimberley, Australia
Located in the Kimberly region of Western Australia, the Argyle was the world's most famous and reliable source of pink diamonds. During its operating years (1983-2020), this mine accounted for an estimated 90% of the total global annual production of pink diamonds.
To put the rarity of pink diamonds into perspective, Argyle's yearly yield was approximately 20 million carats. Of that amount, less than 0.1% of these diamonds were pink.
The Williamson Mine, Shinyanga Province, Tanzania
Commercial mining activity at the Mwadui kimberlite pipe in Tanzania began in 1940. Now operated by Petra Diamonds, this mine was discovered by and named after Canadian geologist Dr. John Williamson. The site covers an impressive 146 hectares.
In 1947, the mine yielded a large pink diamond weighing 54 cts. It was considered one of the best pink diamonds ever found. Dr. Williamson presented this stone to Queen Elizabeth II of England as a wedding present. Cut into a 23.6-ct round brilliant by Briefel and Lemer, the Williamson Pink — as it came to be known — was set into a jonquil-shaped brooch designed by Cartier.
The Williamson Mine also produced the world's most expensive pink diamond, the Williamson Pink Star. It sold for $58 million in 2022.
The KAO Mine, Lesotho
Identified in the mid-1950s by Colonel Scott, this kimberlite pipe struggled for many decades with poor yields and low-quality gems. In 2010, Storm Mountain Diamonds acquired the KAO Mine and revamped operations. Soon, the mine became more profitable and produced some of the best pink diamonds ever discovered. Many of its stones combine a pure pink color with excellent clarity.
The Damtshaa Mine, Botswana
Operated by De Beers, the Damtshaa Mine opened in 2003. In 2019, it produced the most vividly colored pink diamond ever sold: the Eternal Pink. After six months of careful planning and work, cutters fashioned the stone into a 10.57-ct cushion-cut design. With its Fancy Vivid purplish pink color, this diamond sold at auction for $34.8 million in 2023.
Minas Gerais, Brazil
Renowned for producing many different colored gemstones, such as aquamarines, emeralds, and tourmalines, Minas Gerais has also yielded pink diamonds. GAR Minerals has recovered some high-quality stones from alluvial deposits along the Abaeté River and near Coromandel.
The Victor Mine, Ontario, Canada
Also operated by De Beers, the Victor Mine had a short (2008-2019) but very successful run.
Russia has rich diamond deposits in many different regions. Some have yielded valuable pink diamonds, including some operated by Alrosa.
The Mir Mine in Siberia is known for low-nitrogen pink gems. Some diamond parcels from Mir contain as much as 1-6% pink stones.
The Lomonosov mine near Arkhangelsk has also produced small amounts of fancy colored diamonds, including pink, purple, brown, yellow, violet, and green.
How to Care for Your Pink Diamond Jewelry
Fortunately, diamonds are quite durable and stable. This makes cleaning pink diamonds easy. You can use mechanical cleaning processes, such as ultrasonic or steam systems, and many other jewelry cleaning products. However, please follow the instructions for any cleaning device or product carefully.
Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.
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