A Guide to Fancy Colored Diamonds

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The rainbow of colored diamond options can entice the buyer who is browsing for something truly unique. However, how do fancy colored diamonds differ from their better-understood counterparts? How can you be sure you understand fancy colored diamonds and therefore are getting the best your money can buy? Being even rarer than a white diamond, true fancy colored diamonds are often even more valuable, so understanding them is essential. This guide will look comprehensively at colored diamonds to give you the answers you need.

colored diamondsUnderstanding Diamond Color

Whether or not you’re looking specifically for a colored diamond, or one completely white, you need to be aware of the D to Z scale. D represents the completely colorless diamond, and Z carries a notable yellow hue. However, the scale is linear, and this doesn’t represent what we actually see in practice with color diamonds. To the sides of the D to Z scale, and especially beyond it, we find diamonds that aren’t white, aren’t just pale yellow, but instead a plethora of other color options including blue, green, orange, pink and purple – these are the fancy colored diamonds: They literally offer a rainbow of choice.

The general rule of thumb when considering buying a colored diamond is that the rarer the color, the more expensive it will be. However, things get a little more complicated than that.

It should also be noted that this is an area of ‘buyer beware’. There are plenty of artificially-created diamonds on the market. These diamonds have had the color enhanced using heat or radiation, or more high tech methods.

The best fancy colored diamonds are those where the colors come from natural trace elements in the stone – their colors are slightly more muted, but very true to the white diamond itself in terms of character.

What Affects the Diamond Color and Price?

Nonetheless, it’s not just a case of choosing a natural fancy colored diamond and being certain you’re getting a good choice. You also need to consider some additional factors.

When you’re considering any diamond, and this applies to colored diamonds, the cut is important. The cut determines everything about what you see when you look at the diamond. It can, effectively, make or break the diamond. The cut is what makes the diamond dazzle and play with light so harmoniously. However, for the colored diamond, this is more complicated. The clarity of the color is vastly affected by how the diamond is cut. Maximizing the color becomes the primary objective, and the result is a radically different cut from that which we expect on white diamonds.

Variations of the cushion and radiant facet design can help draw out the color as this avoids the detrimental effect of light return reducing color depth. In short, the cut that makes a good colored diamond may in fact make for a ‘bad’ cut on a white one.

The result is that what determines the price of a fancy colored diamond is really quite different to a white diamond. You might already be aware of my opinion of Rapaport for the consumer. However, what Rapaport does mean is that there is a universally-agreed base rate for different white diamonds. This doesn’t apply to fancy colored options. There is no agreed base line, and as such it very much is a market governed by beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

This means you need to entrust yourself in to the hands of a reputable expert to ensure a fair price. Whiteflash offer excellent customer information on fancy colored diamonds, as do James Allen.

Color Grading – Why That Matters

Another factor affecting the quality of a fancy colored diamond is its color grading. This is a way of working out the balance between hue, tone and saturation. This is about creating a 3D understanding of the diamond’s color. This is a somewhat complex ‘equation’, which requires an expert eye.

It can be represented diagrammatically to make more sense. Hue is the color we see – which in reality is often made up of a combination of colors. Next is saturation, which is the strength of the color, or how concentrated it is. Finally, the tone is the degree of change between light and dark.

According to this, the colored diamond is then assigned as Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense or Fancy Vivid. Darker tones might be graded as Fancy Dark or Fancy Deep. Furthermore, it will be graded as either even or uneven based on how consistent the color concentration is.

As a result, not all colors are equal to each other in terms of value, prestige and desirability. For example, yellow-brown hues are more common (despite their names such as champagne and cognac), whereas blue, pink and green are more unusual.

Buying Fancy Colored Diamonds – Making the Right Choice

Not so long ago you were highly restricted in how to buy fancy colored diamonds, and were stuck only with the highest-end stores. Fortunately, that’s changed, and fancy colored diamonds of exceptional quality are now available more readily and more affordably.

However, this presents you with another conundrum – where to start. A good first port of call is to look at specific reviews of individual diamond jewelers. For colored diamonds you should consider both James Allen and Leibish and Co. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to trust your diamond retailer, so do some homework and choose the retailer wisely.

More Information on Buying Fancy Colored Diamonds

Let’s go back to something pointed out early on in this article – it’s possible to create artificially colored diamonds. These aren’t the real deal, and it is that which makes them kinder on the wallet. However, you’re still paying for something that isn’t the genuine article. It’s marketed based on current fashion, and you may just be paying for something that won’t hold its value. If you’re paying natural fancy colored diamond prices, make sure that the diamond hasn’t been artificially colored. Now is the time to ask for a certificate or grading report.

The best way to be certain of the value and grade of a colored diamond is by working with a reputable dealer – get in touch with me directly, for free and independent advice.

Richard Jenkins, The Diamond Guru

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