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Chameleon Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know

Chameleon Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know

Our topic today involves a particular category of diamonds called the Chameleon Diamond. 

These diamonds are not only exceptional because of their unique and variable color but also because of their characteristics, rarity, and many other aspects.

To best understand everything related to the Chameleon diamonds, we tried to start this article with a simple explanation of what a Chameleon Diamond is and its general characteristics. 

Further in the article, these diamonds’ history, place of origin, rarity, value, and price await you.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to receive answers to the most frequently asked questions to summarize in the best way what we’ve talked about today.

Let’s take a look at Chameleon Diamonds and everything you need to know about them!

What Exactly Is a Chameleon Diamond?

As we already mentioned in the introduction, Chameleon Diamonds are a particular type of diamond originally because of their color. Let’s see what sets these diamonds apart from all the others!

Colored diamonds are a rare find in and of themselves. Despite their rarity, chameleon diamonds are extremely stunning due to unique characteristics that no other stone possesses. 

At the heart of those attributes lies a one-of-a-kind skill: the capacity to change hue.

According to their name, these diamonds adapt to their surroundings and briefly change colors or hues. What makes these stones so intriguing is their capacity to change colors and the fact that nothing is known about them.

In reality, the precise meaning of chameleon diamonds is yet unknown.

What is certain is that specialists will continue to research these jewels to understand more about their remarkable properties.

Chameleon diamonds are usually grayish yellowish green to grayish greenish yellow under normal circumstances.

However, a dramatic color shift occurs when heated to 150° C (302° F) or when exposed to light after extensive storage in the dark.

Chameleon diamonds suddenly change color from an intense brownish or orangey yellow to yellow. After only 60 seconds of exposure to a UV lamp, several fantastic colored diamonds changed color for more than 15 minutes.

Some phosphoresce or emit a yellow glow for up to an hour after the light source is switched off.

Let’s see what types of Chameleon Diamond there are!

Chameleon Diamond Types

The world is aware of two varieties of chameleon diamonds:

  1. A chameleon diamond in “classic” form;
  1. A chameleon diamond in “reverse” form;

A “classic” chameleon diamond possesses two distinct natural properties. On the one hand, you may heat it or remove it from the sun to change its hue from light olive to dark yellow.

Overheating the gem, on the other hand, produces drastic changes in its structure. When the diamond is exposed to cold, the color returns to its natural state.

On the other hand, when a diamond is left in a dark environment for an extended period, it darkens on its own. It returns to a brighter tone when it is exposed to sunlight again.

These are the fundamental principles governing its photochromic activity.

As the name suggests, a “reverse” chameleon diamond has a brighter yellow tint. This jewel transforms into a light olive tint when exposed to darkness over an extended period.

When you expose it to light again, it returns to its natural golden tint.

One intriguing point is that “reserve” diamonds do not react to temperature increases. So don’t be astonished if you heat this stone to 200 degrees – it will retain its color.

These were the two types of Chameleon Diamonds and their characteristics. Now we should go back in time and see what history has to say about these diamonds!

The History Of Chameleon Diamonds

The earliest recorded trail of chameleon diamonds dates back to 1943, even though they had been on the market for quite some time. Only a few people were aware of their unusual ability to change color.

As a consequence, these gems were sold at market value. Demand and price grew as more individuals became aware of this unique feature.

A diamond’s color will never change is one of the most well-known and fundamental diamond properties. Chameleon diamonds are the only ones that can alter their natural hue on the fly. 

As we already mentioned, the occurrence of Chameleon-colored diamonds was formally documented for the first time in the 20th century. However, although they were popular back then, people still did not know about their unique characteristics.

The hue of a diamond appeared to change to a deeper tint while on an extremely hot polishing wheel, according to Peter Kaplan of Peter K. Kaplan Inc.

Now we are going to tell an exciting story about the discovery of the color change in chameleon diamonds!

According to the account, the diamond was a pale yellow-green stone. After some time in a jewelry box, the owner watched the bright yellow-green stone she had purchased transform to a dark green tint. 

Lady returned the stone for its unusual behavior, unaware she had a tremendously expensive diamond worth far more than she had paid. Many diamond professionals have investigated the astonishing phenomena since then.

Only, there is no known cause of the effect to this day. Other ideas have been documented, but none with sufficient science to confirm the truth.

What Do Chameleon Diamonds Look Like?

Many people wonder what color chameleon diamonds are in their natural condition since their hues fluctuate. While they are generally green diamonds, they may change to various colors ranging from brown to yellow.

So, what causes their color to change you may wonder?

The superpower of these stones is due to a mix of light and heat. Chopard stated that while these diamonds generally seem olive green or grayish-green, they can change to an intense yellow or orangey-yellow when left in the dark for 24 hours or longer or heated to 392 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the stones cool down or are exposed to sunlight, they will gradually return to their original green color.

A famous gemologist, Katerina Perez, stated on her blog that if a diamond changes colors owing to being stored in the dark, it typically reverts to its olive tone after 10 minutes.

She also showed that not all chameleons change colors from dark to light; others change colors in the opposite direction, from yellow to green.

Researchers are still unable to fully explain these color-changing tendencies, known as thermochromism (a switch in reaction to heat) and photochromism (a switch in response to light).

Nonetheless, the crystal structure of these diamonds contains exceptionally high quantities of hydrogen and traces of nickel and nitrogen. This nitrogen-hydrogen combination might cause the chameleon effect.

According to some scientists, chameleon diamonds exhibit luminous and phosphorescent qualities.

Characteristics of a Chameleon Diamond

All Chameleon colored diamonds share several diamond features. Chameleon diamonds are not available in every color intensity. They can’t, for example, be obtained in vibrant and dramatic hues.

Chameleon diamonds always have diamond fluorescence and feature some form of color combination. Green, Yellow, Brown, and Gray are always in color combinations for Chameleon diamonds.

This phenomenon is not present in pure colored diamonds and is usually accompanied by at least two overtone hues. 

The dominating color can be any of the four hues stated, depending on whether the stones are ‘Classic’ or ‘Reverse.’ We explained the difference between these two terms at the beginning of this article.

These are some of the most prevalent overtone combinations:

  1. Brownish-Yellowish
  1. Gray-Yellowish
  1. Grayish-Yellowish
  1. Grayish-Greenish
  1. Green-Yellow

However, as with all fancy colored diamonds, no two stones are the same, and people may obtain many different color combinations.

While we know that typical green diamonds get their color from natural or manufactured radiation, it is not apparent what gives chameleon diamonds their color. 

The primary reason appears to be a hydrogen-related problem. However, this has yet to be proven.

Chameleon diamonds’ behavior is purely natural; any lab-rendered or lab-enhanced counterpart is impossible. To discover whether a diamond is a color-changing diamond, send it to a gemstone grading lab for examination, such as The Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Labs can determine if a diamond is a chameleon and have the instruments to do the necessary tests.

There are also several tests that you could try at home. Some are temperature change tests, i.e., where diamonds are stored for a certain period in boxes.

If you put it in a darker area, for example, a jewelry box, as the lady in the story above did, you will be able to see the color change after a while. These tests do not guarantee success, but they are the fastest and most straightforward.

Clarity of Chameleon Diamond

Chameleon diamonds typically range in clarity from VS1 to I1.

Clarity is secondary in chameleon diamonds because chameleons, like other natural fancy colored diamonds, are coveted for their color, particularly a green primary body hue.

Diamond Chameleon Shape

Chameleon diamonds are available in almost every form, including pear shapes, radiants, cushions, and the traditional, brilliant cut.

A brilliant round cut does not generally desaturate color in chameleon diamonds because they often have deeper tones than other colored diamonds.

Uneven color distributions (which will be recorded on your GIA certificate) can also impact the look and value of a diamond.

Secondary Colors of Chameleon Diamond

Most people prefer a pure or straight fancy color stone with only one hue. However, most color diamonds have one, two, or even three overtone colors.

Chameleon diamonds have at least two different overtone hues.

Color combinations are constantly present in the colors. At least two of the following hues are always included in the varieties: green, yellow, brown, and gray. A Fancy Dark Gray Green Chameleon, for example.

Diamond Chameleon Tones

Tone refers to the brightness or darkness of a chameleon diamond and the transition between the two.

Tones are not differentiated in the GIA grading. However, a stone with deeper tones may look more vivid in color to the eye.

Fluorescence of Chameleon Diamonds

Diamond fluorescence is always present in Chameleon diamonds.

Chameleon diamonds are distinguished by their medium to intense yellow fluorescence. In the end, the increase in a stone’s beauty provided by fluorescence is subjective.

Intensity Levels Of Chameleon Diamond

A diamond that changes colors seems bizarre – and it is. However, the color-changing feature is not permanent.

Nonetheless, chameleon diamonds are the only diamonds that have the potential to change color naturally, albeit only momentarily.

The chameleon frequently shifts from a light yellowish to a deeper greenish tint when exposed to heat or kept out of direct sunlight.

As we already mentioned, chameleon diamonds are classified into two types: classic and reverse.

The term “Classical” refers to the majority of chameleon diamonds. Classics transition from an olive green color – usually a mix of gray, yellow, and green – to a lighter orangey yellowish hue.

The duration varies according to how long the new hue is visible, although it might range from a few minutes to more than an hour.

Reverse chameleons are stones that behave oppositely. They are lighter yellower stones that might get darker and greener when preserved in a confined, dark place.

In contrast to classic chameleons, their color remains unaffected by heat. To identify a genuine chameleon diamond, you must first understand a few of its key traits.

To begin with, chameleon diamonds are not commonly seen in the more intense color intensities like Vivid and Intense.

Chameleons are classified as Fancy, Fancy Deep, or Fancy Dark. A chameleon diamond has both diamond fluorescence and a color combination. At least two colors are always present: green, yellow, gray, and brown.

Gray-yellowish, grayish-yellowish, green-yellow, brownish-greenish, and brownish-yellowish are common color combinations for chameleon diamonds.

There are several combinations; you can virtually find any combination of green, yellow, gray, and brown.

A Mishmash of Diamond Chameleon Growth

Most chameleon diamonds exhibit uneven development and zonation when examined closely. These distinctions are best visible when the stone’s fluorescence is examined under high-intensity UV light.

Patterns in the fluorescence created by the distribution of different atomic impurities or defects can reveal various features of a diamond’s internal structure under these conditions.

Chameleon diamonds have growing zones that glow greenish yellow, while others are inactive or fluoresce blue. 

The borders between these zones can be regular, oscillatory, or exceedingly irregular and jagged, indicating distinct changes in a chameleon diamond’s growing environment.

Spectroscopic research reveals that 480 nm bands dominate the greenish-yellow fluorescent zones, while the inert or blue zones are hydrogen-rich with 750-800 nm bands.

Although the proportion of each type of growth zone varies from stone to stone, heterogeneity is usually always present.

The coexistence of these two zones and their link with a significant absorption band strongly argues that the presence of chameleon diamonds and their intriguing color variation is a result of a continually changing geological growing environment.

Chameleon Diamonds are Its Uncommonness

Chameleon diamonds are unquestionably uncommon.

GIA experts then examined 29 specimens of this sort of diamond to determine the distinctions between chameleon and green diamonds.

When asked where this beauty came from, specialists at the GIA provide many possibilities.

Specifically, people purchased 30 percent of chameleons in Tel Aviv, 30 percent in Antwerp, and 40 percent in India. The precise origin of chameleon diamonds is still unknown.

Three of the most well-known color-changing diamonds are:

  1. 31,31-carat monster
  1. 8,04-carat hustler
  1. 4,41-carat fellow

The first, the true giant, is one of the world’s biggest brilliants ever discovered. This diamond looked valuable enough for a Swiss watchmaker to purchase in 2007.

Another well-known chameleon-colored diamond has an attractive gray-green tint. It weighs around 8 carats and is surrounded by paving pink diamonds set in an 18K rose gold ring.

Because of this jewelry’s incredible size and uniqueness, no one anticipated it to sell for $2,100,000.

The smallest of them was acquired for roughly $240,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong auction in May 2001. The diamond was a 4.41-carat faceted triangular stone set in platinum.

Chameleon diamonds are often unexplained because of the unknown qualities of color-charge, among the biggest brilliants ever unearthed.

Chameleon Diamond Worth and Price

Although chameleon diamonds are among the rarest diamonds, they are more affordable when compared to other rare diamonds, such as fancy pinks and blues.

A chameleon diamond’s value is determined by several factors, including: 

  1. Its primary body color (Green is generally the most desired)
  2. The intensity of body color (Fancy Deep or Fancy Dark are most desired); 
  3. Carat weight (the more significant the chameleon diamond, the more valuable it is, and the more pronounced the chameleon effect will be);
  4. Clarity
  5. The intensity of color changes.

Less popular chameleon diamond forms, like the emerald cut, can also significantly influence value. Chameleon diamonds are not just a source of fascination for diamond collectors but also a scientific mystery.

A chameleon diamond is the only means to get a color-changing gem.

Due to their scarcity, they are often more expensive than most colorless diamonds, but they are considerably cheaper than higher-priced color diamonds such as pink, blue, and orange.

Fancy Deep or Fancy Dark chameleons are often preferred since their color is more vibrant, and the color shift effect is usually more apparent.

Furthermore, like with other diamonds, the price of chameleon diamonds rises dramatically with size. This effect is magnified in chameleons because of the scarcity of big stones of this sort.

We determined that chameleon diamonds are rare, and while they might theoretically command high prices, they struggle to compete with investment-grade pink, blue, and red diamonds.

However, whether for collecting or investing, keep in mind that the 4C’s apply here as well; thus, a higher grade stone would command a much greater price.

Also, everything you need to know about the famous rule of 4C’s you can find on this link

Chameleon Diamonds – FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How To Spot A Chameleon Diamond?

As previously said, in “normal” settings, these stones appear no different from shaded olive green diamonds; Thus, is it possible to tell them apart from the naked eye?

Initially, the answer would most likely be no. Excessive heat is the only way to tell these diamonds from other colored stones.

Where Do Chameleon Diamonds Originate?

While the specific origins are uncertain, research has revealed that around 40% of chameleon diamonds were acquired in India, 30% in Tel Aviv, and the remaining 30% in Antwerp.

How Do Chameleon Diamonds Appear?

Chameleon diamonds appear no different than any olive-toned or green diamond at first glance. In truth, chameleon diamonds can only be varying degrees of green, yellow, gray, and brown.

Is There A Variety Of Chameleon Diamonds?

Surprisingly, the answer to the initial question is yes. “Normal or classic chameleon diamonds” tend to darken when exposed to intense heat or in a low-light environment.

There are, however, “reverse chameleon diamonds,” which, as you may have guessed, have inversely linked interactions.

These stones take on a significantly lighter tint when exposed to extreme temperatures or a lack of light.

Is Chameleon Diamonds’ Color Shift Reversible?

Yes. Once their surroundings are usual, these diamonds will eventually revert to their original condition. We should also note that the color change does not affect the stone.

When Were The First Chameleon Diamonds Discovered?

A colored diamond altering its hue may appear to be a fresh discovery, especially as these jewels have not received much attention; Nonetheless, their history stretches back to the middle of the twentieth century.

Peter Kaplan was the first to record a chameleon diamond in 1943. By chance, he realized that a diamond lying on a heated polishing roller was gradually changing color. Since then, these stones have piqued the interest of gemologists and have been assigned their own color group.

Are There Any Well-known Chameleon Diamonds?

These diamonds are scarce and generally difficult to recognize, yet several significant sightings have occurred.

The oval cut, Chopard Chameleon Diamond, is the first and most well-known. It is the most massive stone of its kind, weighing 31.31 carats, and has exceptional clarity and color gradings.

Another exciting stone, despite the lack of an official designation, is a radiant cut, 8.04-carat diamond assessed by the GIA as having a fancy dark gray-green chameleon hue. 

The stone is set in a lovely rose gold ring with a frame of tiny pink diamonds. The entire sculpture is estimated to be worth $2.1 million.

Final Thoughts

Our topic today focused on a type of diamond known as a Chameleon Diamond.

These diamonds are outstanding not just because of their distinct and changeable hue but also their qualities, rarity, and various other factors.

To help you grasp everything about Chameleon diamonds, we tried to start with a simple description of what a Chameleon Diamond is and its primary qualities.

The history of these gems, their origin, rarity, worth, and current price have further awaited you in the text.

We also hope that the FAQ provided answers to everything you were interested in and, finally, removed all the doubts you may have had.

We hope you enjoyed gathering new knowledge about this first and foremost rare and unusual diamond!