What’s It Worth? The Enigmatic Chameleon Diamond

Last week, a San Diego jeweler offered us a chance to buy an unusual diamond that is rarely seen.
These are called chameleon diamonds because they temporarily change color in reaction to heat or light.
When put into a dark drawer or safe deposit box, the diamond will change color — looking different when it comes out than when it went in. (Some people can’t even recognize their own diamonds if they haven’t seen them in a while.)

These diamonds are typically grayish yellowish green to grayish greenish yellow. But, when heated up to 300° F— or exposed to ultraviolet or sunlight after prolonged storage in the dark — a remarkable color change happens. Chameleon diamonds will temporarily turn an intense brownish or orangey yellow to yellow color. Some of these extraordinary colored diamonds have displayed color change for more than 15 minutes after being exposed to an ultraviolet lamp for just 60 seconds. Some emit a yellow glow, or phosphoresce, for up to an hour after the light source is turned off.

In the 1980s, they were considered faulty and no one wanted them; but today, since they are scarce and were only mined in a couple of mines and are unusual in nature, they are much more popular. The jeweler offered us this .85 carat diamond for $3,000. Typically, retailers sell for about three times the dealer’s cost; but this one is available in our store for $3,900 as a loose stone. Of course, you would have to have a mounting added.

Colored diamonds can bring a premium – especially if they are pink or blue and even if they are light pink or light blue. Next in line would be orange and green diamonds, but that must be their natural color. The least valuable are brown diamonds – which are marketed as chocolate or cognac diamonds. Retail value would depend on the retailer selling them.

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