Breathtaking Brilliance and Captivating Color. The earth’s most desired jewels are fancy colored diamonds. Our colored diamond education section will assist in helping you understand the unique characteristics of these dazzling diamonds and help determine perfect diamond for you.
Colored diamonds are available in virtually any color known to man. Yellows, browns, blacks and grays are the most common fancy color diamonds, followed by fancy pink and fancy blue diamonds. The most rare fancy colored diamonds are red, green, purple and orange diamonds. The rarer, the more expensive and more sought after by collectors.
Unlike white diamonds, colored diamonds are valued almost primarily for the intensity and distribution of their color.
Colored diamonds are extraordinarily rare, contributing to their cost. Only one in every 10,000 diamonds possesses enough natural color to be referred to as a fancy colored diamond. Colored diamonds are purchased almost exclusively for the intensity and distribution of the diamond’s color. The traditional Four Cs criteria, such as Cut, Clarity, Carat Weight, are less important
when purchasing a colored diamond. Even within the color of the diamond, there are levels of color intensity which impact the value and beauty of the diamond – such as Fancy Light Yellow, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Intense Yellow, and Fancy Vivid Yellow. All four of these color categories within the Yellow Diamond grade will have different cost per carat pricing.
How Are Colored Diamonds Formed?
The earth’s natural creation of a fancy colored diamond is an extremely rare occurrence. It’s essentially an earth’s “accident” or “quirk” that creates the most beautiful of treasures. Even a 1.00 carat colorless diamond requires billions of carbon atoms to bond and crystalize. The slightest quirk creates a colored diamond. For example, a bit of boron makes a blue diamond; a touch of nitrogen makes a yellow diamond; slight natural radiation from nearby rocks trap electrons to create a green diamond; and pink or red diamonds are due to changes to the electron structure during the voyage to the surface. All of the flukes create the world’s most treasured jewels.
Colored diamonds are found in almost any shade of the rainbow. The GIA lists twenty-seven different hues/colors for natural colored diamonds. The variety of diamond colors available has allowed jewelers to align color names with what’s fashionable at the moment and create marketing campaigns around it. Undoubtedly you’ve seen marketing campaigns created introducing “new” diamonds colors including champagne diamonds (brown), pumpkin diamonds (orange), canary diamonds (yellow), etc.
Red Diamonds and Pink Diamonds
Like white diamonds, red diamonds and pink diamonds are naturally created deep within the earth’s core. The color is created by the combination heat and intense pressure and heat deep within the earth. These two factors will cause distortions in the crystal lattice work that absorb green light. In turn, the absorbed green light reflects a pinkish hue. Red diamonds, which are incredibly rare and valuable, essentially intensely deep colored pink diamonds and have the same reasoningfor color creation.
Pink diamonds are most frequently found in the Argyle Mine in northwestern Australia, which produces an estimated 90% of all natural pinks in the world. However, pink diamonds have also been found in Brazil, Tanzania, and India.
Like white diamonds, natural blue diamonds are naturally colored diamonds created by heat and pressure deep within the earth. Naturally colored bluediamonds get their color from impurity boron. When boron is present in a diamond, the compound bonds to carbon in the crystal structure. This absorbs red, yellow and green colors of the color spectrum into the diamond. In turn, a blue color is reflected from the stone.
Unlike white diamonds, pink diamonds and blue diamonds, green diamonds do not achieve their determined color within the earth’s core. It’s not until their journey to the earth’s surface that diamonds get their green color. As naturally colored green diamonds leave the uppermost layer of the earth’s crust, these stones absorb naturally occurring radiation. The radiation causes the stones to absorb hues of red and yellow light. The combination of these colors, create reflection s of green, creating a green diamond.
Natural green diamonds are extraordinarily rare, with less than ten stones total coming to market each year. Some green diamonds have a trace amount of nickel mixed into their make up,most coloration in the diamonds comes from natural radiation from nearby rocks, which traps electrons to create a green surface color. Since the green coloration is on the outer layer of the stone only, most of the natural green hue is lost during the polishing process.
So far, all scientists are certain of is that the cause of color for purple and violet diamonds is crystal distortion. However, it is believed that the presence of hydrogen may be partly responsible for their hue. Pure purple is the second rarest color of diamond. While there are several theories on why some diamonds exhibit a purple color, many scientists certain that the cause of color for purple diamonds is crystal distortion. However, hydrogen may be partly responsible for their hue. This deformation occurs while the stone is traveling from the earth’s mantle to its surface via magma.
Natural purple diamonds account for 1% of the diamonds mined in Siberia’s Mir kimberlite mine. Most are only a very light/pale purple.
Orange and Yellow Diamonds
The bright, bold and beautiful hue of orange and yellow diamonds can be attributed to one natural element: nitrogen. During the formation of a natural orange or yellow diamond, nitrogen atoms will arrange in such a way that that blue light is attracted and absorbed into the carbon matter. Once absorbed, the yellow color is produced and reflected from the stone. A specific grouping of nitrogen atoms is also responsible for the shading, hue and intensity of orange diamonds.
Structural differences in the carbon lattice give brown diamonds their color and ability to refract light. The presence of nitrogen can also give a diamond a brown hue. The term “champagne diamond” is used to describe a lightly tinted brown diamond. Cognac diamond is used to describe a darker brown diamond. These terms were coined to better promote these loose brown diamonds and has given new life and desirability and market demand to these beautiful stones.Brown diamonds range in tone from very light to very dark. Buyers generally prefer brown diamonds in medium to dark tones with a warm, golden to reddish appearance. Brown diamondsgenerally show a hint of yellowish, orangey, or reddish modifying colors.Brown diamonds are found in Australia, Africa, and Siberia.
Unlike the formation of other colored diamonds, a black diamond’s color is not related to trace elements. Black diamonds are formed due to small traces of graphite or iron clusters in the carbon. While other colored diamonds are transparent, black diamondsare typically opaque. As such, black diamonds may not exhibit the fire and brilliance of a white diamond or transparent colored diamond.
Until the late 1990s, there was not much demand for black diamonds. But jewelry designers started using them in jewelry – especially contrasted with tiny colorless diamonds in pavé settings, and they began to gain in popularity. Today we see black diamonds used in modern and edgy designs and men’s contemporary designs.
Four Cs of Colored Diamonds
By far, the most important factor to consider when purchasing a fancy colored diamond is Color. The color intensity, the deepness and richness of color, is the most important consideration when deciding upon which diamond to buy. The more intense the color, the rarer and more valuable the diamond is. All Shapiro Diamonds colored diamonds are of natural color and are never exposed to artificial coloring techniques such irradiation.
Following color, carat weight has the greatest impact on price for colored diamonds. When diamonds are mined, large colored diamonds are discovered much less frequently than small stones. This makes large diamonds much rarer and therefore more valuable. As a result, the cost of fancy color diamonds rise exponentially with carat weight.
Colored diamonds are primarily cut to emphasize their color. This is unlike colorless diamonds, which are cut to maximize sparkle or brilliance. While it is still important that colored diamonds exhibit brilliance and sparkle, color will forever be the most important characteristic when consideringwhich diamond to purchase and the value of a colored diamond.
Due to the nature of colored diamonds and fancy colored diamonds, clarity is less important than it is in colorless diamonds. Inclusionsare more easily masked and disguised by the diamond’s color. The value and beauty is in the diamond’s color, not necessarily as much in its clarity. Even diamonds with numerous inclusions that result in a low clarity grade are prized by connoisseurs if they display attractive face-up color.
While cut describes a diamond’s light performance, dimensions and finish – shape refers to the outline of the diamond. This is when the diamond is viewed from the top down. For example – round, pear shape, etc. It’s important to note that many colored diamonds are polished into a shaped that best maximizes and enhances their natural color. For this reason, cushion shape diamonds, radiant cut diamonds and pear shape diamonds are the most frequently shaped natural colored diamonds. Due to the rarity of colored diamonds, a specific shape in a specific color may not be available at any given time.
Colored Diamond Certifications
The GIA issues colored diamond grading certificates.The GIA identifies and categorizes 27 different hues/colors for natural colored diamonds. It describes the color of fancy diamonds in three ways: Hue: pure spectral colors of the diamond; Tone: lightness and darkness of the hue; and Saturation: and the color’s strength and purity on a scale from neutral to vivid. Diamonds can also have modifiers. This can include Fancy Purple with a Pink modifier (fancy deep purplish pink) or Fancy Yellow with a modifier of Green (fancy intense yellowish green).
Setting Colored Diamonds
When choosing a setting for a colored diamond, we recommend selecting a setting metal that will enhance the natural color of your diamond. For example, yellow diamonds can be set in 14-karat or 18-karat yellow gold to enhance the yellow color tone of the yellow diamond. In fact, we often recommend setting stones with a basket or closed cage under the diamond, which will reflect additional yellow color tone and yellow hues up through the yellow diamond, further increasing the yellow diamond’s color. This visual enhancement can often appear to take the diamond from a fancy light yellow diamond to a fancy vivid yellow diamond – appearing to be a much more expensive, rare and more desirable stone. This design enhancement can also be done with fancy pink and fancy purple diamonds using 14-karat or 18-karat rose gold. Smaller accent or larger side diamonds in white can be added to the setting to further accentuate the difference between the colored center diamond and the side white diamonds.