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An Introduction to Fancy Color Diamonds

You may be familiar with exquisitely color gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. But, did you know that natural diamonds (and lab-grown diamonds!) come in a spectrum of fancy colors akin to color gemstones? 


Yellow diamonds are the most commonly referenced fancy color diamond and certainly the most popular color diamond selection for engagement ring center stones and fine jewelry pieces. However, red, blue, green, and pink diamonds are alternative fancy color diamond hues that vary in their level of rarity. 

We will answer all of your burning questions about these rare gemstones like How do fancy color diamonds get their color? Which fancy color diamond hue is the rarest? And can you purchase a color lab-grown diamond? 

Let’s get fancy with this introduction to fancy color diamonds! 


Fancy Color Diamonds

1 in every 10,000 mined diamonds has some variation of color. That is only 0.01% of all diamonds.

Fancy color diamonds reveal a wide variety of colors in the visible spectrum. As we mentioned in the introduction, yellow and brown diamonds are the most frequently encountered fancy color diamonds, which impacts their price per carat. However, red, blue, green, orange, pink, violet, gray, and other fancy color diamond varieties have come to the surface through excavation. 

Most color diamonds brought to the surface by skilled miners are muted in color. Their hue most often takes on a pastel shade rather than a deep jewel tone. Contrary to white diamond color grading, which diminishes the quality of a diamond as you inch closer to a “Z” color grade, fancy color diamonds increase in value as color saturation and purity of color increase. 

The fancy color diamond grading scale is as follows (from lesser value to most valuable): faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid, fancy dark, and fancy. 

Using this scale, a fancy color yellow diamond for example, with a “very light” GIA color grade would appraise for less than a “fancy intense” or “fancy vivid” yellow diamond. 


Color Variety of Fancy Color Diamonds

Not all fancy color diamonds are valued equally. Price per carat and overall valuation are determined by the rarity of the diamond color. 

Let’s dive deeper into the color varieties of fancy color diamonds to further explain how each diamond color comes to reveal such a stunning hue. 

 

Red Diamonds

Red Diamonds – Everything You Wanted To Know (Part 2)

Credit: The Rob Red Diamond via reddiam.com

 

Red diamonds are the rarest color variation of color diamonds with only 20-30 mined red diamonds existing in the entire world. The average size of a red diamond is ½ carat to 1 carat, and the valuation of a red diamond is $1 million per carat. 

Made from pure carbon, red diamonds are a bit of a mystery as there is no known source of the chemical influence during diamond formation that produces their red hue. As you will read, all other color diamonds get their color from trace amounts of other elements being introduced during the diamond formation process. Specialists believe these incredibly rare stones get their color from a rare deformation in the atomic structure; the red color is formed due to the lattice defect in the diamond that shows stress lamination during the formation process.

 

Blue Diamonds

Credit: Sotheby's/De Beers/Diacore

 

The presence of boron in the crystal structure of blue diamonds presents the blue hue we see when reflected by light. 

Boron’s origins are loosely linked to ancient oceans and are found abundantly on the Earth’s surface. Rarely is boron present in the Earth’s mantle where the key factors necessary for diamond creation are available. How Boron seeps into the diamond crystal during formation is a complete mystery. 

Blue diamonds can grow larger than red diamonds with an average medium-toned 1 carat blue diamond priced at $200,000.

Most recently, the world’s largest blue diamond to come to auction was sold for $57.5 million!

 

Pink Diamonds

Christie's Auctioned a $40 Million Diamond. Was It Stolen? - The New York Times

Credit: Christie’s

 

According to a comprehensive analysis of over 90,000 pink color diamonds, GIA researchers determined that 99.5% of the pink hue in these color diamonds is a result of the crystal structure rather than trace chemical influence. This altered crystal feature only adds to the pink diamond’s mystique. 

The majority of the world’s pink diamonds were discovered in the Argyle Mine in Australia, thus being called “Argyle Diamonds.” These special diamonds are considered exceptionally rare. Natural pink diamonds can range from $100,000 to $1 million per carat.  

 

  

2.07ct Fancy Peach Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring

 

Green Diamonds

A massive green diamond, cut in a pear shape and set in an ornate silver and diamond ornament

Credit: Dresden Green Diamond via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Most green diamonds are only green on the surface level of the stone, while the most valuable green diamonds have a rich, green saturation through the entirety of the stone. 

The green hue is actually the result of trace radioactive material like uranium or thorium. When these radioactive materials decayed, they emitted radiation that penetrated the diamond during formation. More frequently, this material can only get through the surface layer of the diamond crystal, which is why natural vivid-color green diamonds are exceptionally rare. 

 

1.55ct Fancy Intense Green Diamond Engagement Ring

 

Yellow and Brown Diamonds

 

The yellow and brown varieties of fancy color diamonds compose half the total fancy color diamond supply. Most natural white diamonds have a yellow or brown tint to them, which is reflected in the GIA color grading scale. 

The yellow hue of the yellow diamond is a result of trace amounts of nitrogen that seeps into the diamond’s crystal structure. When white diamonds have a slight yellow tint, they are deemed less valuable than a colorless white diamond. However, a yellow diamond’s value is directly connected to the level of saturation. 

Brown diamonds have long been underappreciated until recently (Scarlett Johannson’s champagne color diamond hurt this hue’s appreciation). Brown diamonds were often used for industrial purposes as an abrasive material until the 80’s when Indian gem cutters fashioned these brown diamonds into exceptionally small melee diamonds, which were used as stunning accent stones. 


Do Fancy Color Lab-Grown Diamonds Exist?

 

While much of the appreciation for fancy color diamonds are a result of their rarity, not everyone can afford the $1 million price tag for a red diamond. 

Much like a natural diamond changes hue when a chemical inserts itself into the diamond crystal during formation, lab-grown diamonds can be treated to show the desired color. The cost per carat for a fancy color lab-grown diamond is far more reasonable than a natural fancy color diamond… and they are both real diamonds!

As we have mentioned in previous lab-grown diamond blogs, the environmental impact of a lab-grown diamond is lower than that of a natural diamond and they are guaranteed to be ethically sourced. Both of these factors, along with the radically lower price tag, make a fancy-color lab-grown diamond the perfect alternative to natural color diamonds. 


The Colorful World of Diamonds

The wide array of fancy color diamonds is mesmerizing. Even more so when you think about the ultra-special conditions required to create a specific color diamond hue. 

We have a stunning collection of these unique diamonds in both our showroom and our loose diamond inventory. You can also work with a Lauren B design consultant to custom design a completely unique engagement ring with a beautiful color diamond solitaire engagement ring, a diamond duo engagement ring, or even a three-stone engagement ring. 

Make a virtual appointment or visit our showroom at 44 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017. 

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