Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 2005, Volume 41, No. 1

A Gemological Study of a Collection of Chameleon Diamonds

Chameleon diamonds are among the rarest of gem diamonds. This article reports on a unique collection of 39 chameleon diamonds ranging from 0.29 to 1.93 ct, which exhibited temporary changes in color when heated to approximately 150°C and, for some, after prolonged storage in the dark (i.e., thermochromic and photochromic color changes, respectively). Most changed from “olive” green to brownish yellow or yellow, although some changed from light yellow to a more intense greenish yellow. The thermochromic and photochromic color change observed in the “olive” green chameleon diamonds is typical of “Classic” chameleons, whereas the solely thermochromic change shown by the light yellow group was the “Reverse” of that seen in Classic chameleon diamonds. The Classic and Reverse groups showed different spectroscopic and UV fluorescence characteristics, but all stones exhibited strong long-lasting phosphorescence after shortwave UV excitation. Hydrogen was identified in all samples by FTIR spectroscopy, and minor Ni-related emissions were detected by photoluminescence spectroscopy in most. Using this combination of reaction to UV radiation and spectroscopic properties, a gemologist can separate chameleon from other green diamonds without unnecessary exposure to heat.