Green Diamonds: Natural Radiance

December 9, 2017 – April 1, 2018


Past Exhibition

Some of the world's rarest colorful diamonds are stopping in Los Angeles for a limited time. NHMLA’s Gem and Mineral Vault welcomes a wide variety of alluring diamonds showcasing natural green radiance. The science behind these diamonds is as mesmerizing as they are!






Where diamonds come from

All natural diamonds formed over a billion years ago deep below Earth’s surface, at depths of up to 100 miles, where there’s high heat and pressure. These extreme conditions cause carbon atoms to bond together and grow diamond crystals.

A glimpse into our planet

As these crystals grew, they sometimes trapped other minerals inside, causing what jewelers and collectors call inclusions. Each tiny imperfection is a record of Earth’s geologic history.

Why are they green?

In order to gain their green color, these diamonds had to have been exposed to natural gamma radiation deep within the Earth. The shade of green varies depending on the amount of radiation exposure, and appears more yellow or blue if the crystal has other impurities.

Color Changing Diamonds

These “chameleon” diamonds temporarily change color (like their namesake, the chameleon lizard) when exposed to changes in temperature or light. They are incredibly rare, and scientists have not yet determined why these crystals behave this way.