Yes, They Are Real Diamonds.
The first thing you need to know about enhanced color diamonds is that they are real, not synthetic diamonds. Typically, enhanced color diamonds start out as nearly colorless diamonds in their raw state. They then undergo a color-enhancement process using irradiation or HPHT (high temperature, high pressure).
Enhanced diamonds are more affordable than white diamonds. This is not because the diamonds used to produce enhanced colored diamonds are flawed. It is simply that the best candidates for enhanced color diamonds are those that already have some coloring and are not entirely white.
The History of Enhanced Colored Diamonds
In the 19th century, the world supply of natural color diamonds simply couldn’t meet their demand. Their scarcity meant extremely high prices, and were therefore accessible to only those with great wealth. Soon, scientists experimented with methods that would add color to white diamonds in order to make colored diamonds more available and at a more affordable cost to the public at large. Although color enhancement was first successfully developed in 1904, it wasn’t until the 1950s that enhanced diamonds became popular. This came about as the enhancement process became simple and safe enough to be done in commercial quantities. More recently, the development of the HPHT process has also meant that an even further range of colors can be reached.
Use, Care and Cleaning of Irradiated Diamonds
Irradiated color diamonds, like all diamonds, are unlikely to change unless they are subject to temperatures above 450 C/ 850 F. Generally, a diamond will only be exposed to these high temperatures at the jewelers bench when resizing a ring.
But there are some points to be aware of regarding the setting and care of irradiated colored diamonds:
Irradiated colored diamonds can be set in almost every possible style of setting including, channel, prong, invisible, bezel, flush, or pave. However, irradiated colored enhanced diamonds cannot be wax-set because that process involves high temperatures.
The surface of an irradiated diamond, like all diamonds, can come in contact with in everyday dirt and grime such as hand lotions. If this does happen, Irradiated colored diamonds can be cleaned just like regular white diamonds. They can be cleaned using steam, ultrasonic, acid or any jewelry cleaner. To clean a colored diamond at home, use a soft toothbrush and soapy water.
Exposure to High Temperatures Over 450°C (900°F)
When a ring with an enhanced color diamond is being resized, it is important that it be treated with the same care as a precious color gemstone, such as an emerald. The stone must be protected from direct exposure to high temperature over 450°C (900°F). Such high temperatures can adversely affect the color of an enhanced diamond. An experienced jeweler will cover the stone with either a saturated mixture of boric acid and denatured alcohol or a special protective paste such as a product called, Heat Shield. Either option will adequately protect the diamond during bench work from direct exposure to the high temperature generated by a jeweler’s torch.