Fancy colored diamonds are a luxury in the diamond world. 99.9% of all mined diamonds are white meaning that only 0.01% are colored diamonds. This rarity explains why colored diamonds are such a desirable and valuable commodity. However, while natural fancy colored diamonds are in high demand, diamonds that have undergone treatments to create or enhance color are less so.
Pricing Naturally Colored Diamonds
When pricing diamonds there is always a direct correlation between scarcity and value, which explains why colored diamonds can command such high prices. Naturally colored diamonds are extremely rare, with the best-colored stones selling for millions of dollars. Each colored diamond is 100% unique, with no two ever matching due to the infinite variations in color.
Unlike white diamonds where the less color they have, the more valuable they are, the more color a colored diamond has, the more valuable it is. Colored diamonds exist in all shades of the rainbow, from yellow to red and blue to green. It’s important however to note that not all colors are equal. Red diamonds are the rarest of colored diamonds while yellow diamonds are much more common, with roughly 60% of all colored diamonds belonging to this color category. As such, red diamonds are far more expensive than yellows. The list of the rarest to least rare in colored stone is red, purple, green, blue, pink, and finally yellow.
Grading Fancy Colored Diamonds
While white diamonds are graded by D-Z on the color scale, fancy color diamond grades are not referred to by a letter. In the 1970s, the GIA created a grading scale specific to colored diamonds, ranging from fancy light to fancy deep.
When grading these diamonds, there are three elements that each diamond expert will look at. The hue tells us the primary color of the stone, adding to the price due to the rarity of the color. The hue will also change based on the colors found that modify the primary color, adding different variations. The saturation is the strength of a color, with the deeper colors being most sought after. Lastly, the tone of the diamond is measured, determining how light or dark the color is, with the ability to reflect light still remaining a huge factor in price.
After all of those factors are taken into account, a gemologist will determine where the diamond falls on a color grading scale that is segmented into nine options. The most desirable diamond will be ‘fancy vivid’, while the least desirable will be ‘faint’.
Enhanced Colored Diamonds:
An enhanced colored diamond has undergone treatment to alter its color, which while it may seem just as beautiful to the untrained eye, is not as valuable. To determine whether a diamond has been enhanced requires testing using high tech equipment in a Gemological Laboratory.
The most common treatments include:
- Annealing: Irradiation plus heating and cooling a diamond which creates pink, red, orange, purple, yellow, brown and black diamonds.
- Irradiation: Creates green diamonds.
- High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT): improves the color of a stone by subjecting it to high pressures and temperatures.
How can I tell the difference?
It is important to have a certificate for your colored diamond, without this document it is not possible for a diamond buyer to guarantee that the diamond is not enhanced. We always recommend a GIA certificate, as the GIA is the world’s leading Gemological Laboratory and most respected in the diamond industry. When selling a colored diamond, a GIA certificate will enable you to get the best price as a diamond buyer will feel confident in the grading’s provided.
If you chose to send your colored diamond to GIA for a report, it is beneficial to get a full report. A short report is often chosen by a seller to conceal an issue with the diamond, be it a low clarity, strong fluorescence or other qualities that could lower the price. It is better to be completely upfront about the diamond, as any qualified diamond buyer will pick up on these issues.