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Painting with Colored Diamonds


One of nature’s greatest gifts to the gemstone world is colored diamonds. These wonderous stones come in a kaleidoscope of colors and they’re a powerhouse of sparkle, which is what sets them apart from other colored gemstones. And for those who like to have something a little different, colored diamonds are a unique way to wear the April birthstone.

“I love to use colored gemstones and when I first discovered colored diamonds, I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” says jewelry artist Naomi Sarna. “They have such a large range of color and tremendous sparkle.”

Diamond Headlines

We’ve all seen headlines about fabulous colored diamonds such as the yellow Donnersmarck Diamonds and the pink Princie Diamond that have made headlines at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions. The most famous colored diamond is the grayish-blue Hope Diamond that is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Those larger rocks are the pinnacle of perfection and are way out of reach for most budgets.

However, you can still have the magic of colored diamonds in a piece of jewelry without breaking the bank. Jewelry artist Naomi Sarna creates a number of her art jewels with small colored diamonds, known to those in the jewelry business as “melee”.

According to the Gemological Institute of America, one in every 10,000 diamonds is a colored diamond. While they are forming in the earth these sparkling treasures get their color in a number of different ways. Yellow diamonds get their color from traces of the element nitrogen, blue diamonds get their color from traces of the element boron, while green has radiation to thank for its unusual hues. When it comes to pink and brown diamonds, the color comes from an anomaly in the internal structure of the stone.

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Colored diamonds can unexpectedly be found in any mine, but most of the small-sized pink diamonds on the market today came from the Argyle Mine in Northwestern Australia, which closed at the end of 2020.

Painterly Feeling

The wide range of colors with a variety of tones and hues is very appealing to Sarna when she designs one of her fine jewelry pieces. “I can create a painterly feeling for my jewelry with colored diamonds. By mixing various colors together I can create texture and an impressionistic feeling or ombre look in a design. To be able to paint the way I do with colored diamonds I need to have a tremendous supply of these gems.”

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Finding enough diamonds in the range of hues and tones that Sarna needs to create one of her designer jewelry pieces is challenging. “I have to be lucky enough for a diamond dealer to come along with enough of what I need.”

Diamonds and Sapphires

Sometimes when Sarna can’t get enough of the right colors of diamonds for one of her pieces, she fills in with sapphires to create the desired painterly effect. “I like to use different tones in a piece so I often use sapphires with colored diamonds so I can paint properly with the stones,” says Sarna.

How are colored diamonds used differently than the white diamonds we are accustomed to seeing? For Sarna, white diamonds are an accent. “White diamonds are an accent that helps to bring out the color of the other gems,” she explains. Sometimes Sarna uses colored diamonds to highlight the color of another gem, such as the colored diamonds on the bail of the Art Nouveau Jade pendant, which uses olive, orange, and cognac diamonds to harmonize with the tones of the jadeite.

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While Sarna uses mostly small diamonds “to paint” her creations, she does use larger stones in her Lovers’ Rings. “I was attracted to the orangey-brown color of the diamonds in those rings,” comments Sarna. “The color is gorgeous.” In those rings, she complements the center stones with an array of colored diamond melee set in a pattern that creates a half-heart in the shank of each ring and a full heart when they are together.

“Colored diamonds have a very special quality to them,” concludes Sarna. “Painting with those gems is an addiction.”

By Amber Michelle

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