When you think of a diamond, you envision the most brilliant bright white. Now imagine a cherry red. Bubblegum pink. Lemon yellow, glacier blue, pumpkin orange, mint green, violet purple. These vivacious colors are just a few of many in which diamonds naturally form. In fact, diamonds come in almost every hue imaginable. These prismatic gems are called Fancy Color Diamonds. We know from our understanding of the 4Cs that color plays an important role in determining the value of a diamond, and this is especially true with fancy colors. Let’s explore the history of the elusive Fancy Color Diamond, learn the natural phenomena behind their formation, and discover how color affects their value.
Fancy Diamond Formations
All diamonds are the product of a single element: carbon. In order to become a Fancy Color Diamond, these carbon gemstones need to experience a natural phenomenon so rare that it only occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 diamonds. Natural radiation, intense pressure and heat, and the incorporation of other natural elements, such as boron and nitrogen, during the formation of the stone are responsible for creating these rare, fancy colors. Diamonds have been undergoing these fascinating processes for billions of years, and are eventually propelled forth from the Earth’s crust by volcanic explosions, waiting to be discovered.
Rarest Fancy Color Diamonds
Fancy Red Diamonds
The rarest Fancy Color Diamonds are red, green, blue, orange, and purple. Red color diamonds are formed when they undergo immense pressure and stress during their creation which causes a deformation in the crystal lattice structure, causing atoms to become displaced. These candy apple colored gems are among the rarest, most valuable, and most highly coveted of all fancy diamonds.
Fancy Blue Diamonds
Almost equally rare is the fancy blue. There are two types of fancy blue diamonds, Type IIb and Type Ia. Most of the world’s blue diamonds are Type IIb and owe their color to the element boron present in the carbon lattice, which allows electricity to pass through the stone. It is thought that the boron found in these blue diamonds originated deep within the Earth’s oceans. These diamonds only account for 0.1% of all mined diamonds. Type Ia blue diamonds are infused with hydrogen and account for even less of the world’s blue diamonds.
Fancy Green Diamonds
Green diamonds are incredibly rare and extremely valuable. Their envious color is the result of millions of years of harmless, natural radiation that the diamond experiences from deep within the Earth. Alpha radiation causes a lighter green color, while beta & gamma radiation produce a richer, deeper green color. The radiation displaces the carbon molecules inside the diamond, altering light traveling through the stone, thus causing the diamond to take on a green hue. What makes green diamonds especially rare is that the radiation they experience does not affect the entire stone. This means that the green color may appear only in some parts of the diamond, and can easily be lost when the stone is being cut or faceted.
Fancy Orange Diamonds
Orange diamonds follow the ranks as being one of the rarest diamond colors. These gems are infused with nitrogen, which absorbs blue light, and can only achieve the title of a fancy orange if no trace of brown color is present. An orange diamond is as rare, if not even more rare, than a red, blue, or pink diamond. As with all fancy colors, the deeper the diamond is formed in the Earth, the richer the orange color saturation will be.
Fancy Purple Diamonds
Purple diamonds are usually broken into two categories, which are both incredibly rare and hard to come by: Pure violet and purple. Pure violets, whose color vibration is the highest on the visible light spectrum, owe their color to an infusion of hydrogen inside the diamond. Purple diamonds, similar to pinks, are caused by deformations in the diamond’s molecular structure.
Most Common Fancy Colors
Fancy Yellow Diamonds
Nearly 60% of all Fancy Color Diamonds are yellow diamonds, making them the most abundant and popular of the natural colored diamonds. But being the most abundant color diamond does not mean they are not rare – they are. Similar to orange diamonds, their brilliant yellow color is caused by a saturation of nitrogen inside the diamond, which modifies the light traveling through by absorbing blue light. The color of yellow diamonds range from pale lemon to vivid canary color.
Fancy Pink Diamonds
Orange and yellow diamonds contain nitrogen, and blue diamonds contain boron, but pink diamonds do not contain any natural element besides carbon. For this reason, the origin of their rosy color was unknown for a long time. However scientists now believe that the pink hue, similar to red, may be due to the way the diamond absorbs light. This anomaly can be attributed to a stress deformation in the crystal lattice during the diamond growth process, and is so rare that less than 1% of the world’s diamonds are pink.
How Does GIA Grade Fancy Color Diamonds?
When the GIA grades a fancy diamond, it takes into account three important factors: the color grade, the origin, and color distribution. The color grade is the color of the diamond, for example Fancy Intense Yellow. The tone, how much cool grey or warm brown is present, and the saturation, how pale or vivid the color appears in the stone, affect the diamond’s color grade. The color grades range from Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid, to the less desirable and over-saturated Fancy Dark and Fancy Deep. The origin indicates whether a diamond is natural or treated. There are some colored diamonds that have undergone a synthetic heat treatment process called irradiation to mimic the brilliant colors diamonds can naturally occur. These diamonds have a fraction of the value and are not at all comparable to authentic colored diamonds. And lastly, the distribution indicates how evenly the color is distributed throughout the stone, as mentioned earlier in green diamonds, the ubiquity of the color inside the stone can vary.
How Does Color Affect a Diamond’s Value?
A majority of a Fancy Color Diamond’s value comes from the overall beauty of the stone and the rarity of the color itself. But there are other factors which determine a diamond’s price and desirability. As the intensity of a diamond’s color increases, so does its value. This is in contrast to the value of colorless diamonds, whose price decreases as the amount of color (yellow, brown or grey) within the diamond becomes more apparent. The strength and purity of color also plays an important role in determining a diamond’s value. The high saturation of color in Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid diamonds makes them more valuable than the paler colors of Fancy Light color diamonds. However, there is a tipping point where a diamond’s value begins to decline as it becomes too heavily saturated, such as with a Fancy Dark or Fancy Deep. Finding a single colored diamond is incredibly rare. A single purple, green, or red diamond will demand the highest prices due to their extreme scarcity. Generally speaking color modifiers reduce the value of a given Fancy Color Diamond. Multiple color modifiers (there can be up to three colors on a certificate) reduce the value further. There are exceptions such as the highly sought-after Purplish Pink, or Orangy Yellow.
As with any diamond, a Fancy Color Diamond must be inspected in person to determine its true value. Mondiamo’s team of expert gemologists is able to assess Fancy Color Diamonds for quality and desirability in the market. We can then provide an accurate diamond valuation for these rare and wondrous gems. Utilizing our global distribution network, we can ensure we find the highest payer for these rare gems, be it in Asia, Europe or the Americas.