Diamond Dictionary: Fancy Colored Diamonds

Colored diamonds relate to white diamonds as a Ferrari might relate to a BMW… magnificent, exotic and different.

Natural colored diamonds exist in a rainbow of colors and intensities.  Less than one percent of the thousands of diamonds graded by the GIA annually qualify as ‘natural fancy colors.’

With colored diamonds the criteria to establish value must be re-aligned. Unlike white diamonds, which are valued for their absence of color, fancy colored diamonds are desired precisely because they have color.

White diamonds are classified on a D to Z color scale, with D being whitest and Z denoting a yellow hue.   Once the color grade goes beyond Z and the hue turns to fancy yellow, also called canary yellow, diamonds become more rare and valuable.

Color ‘intensity’ is described by the GIA as follows (Ascending order of rarity and value):

  1. Faint
  2. Very Light
  3. Light
  4. Fancy Light
  5. Fancy
  6. Fancy Intense
  7. Fancy Vivid
  8. Fancy Deep

The GIA describes color in many interesting ways with are infinite possibilities.

Examples: orangish yellowish pink, greenish yellow purplish pink, pink yellow blue, bluish green, brownish orangy pink, etc.

Often described as ‘canary diamonds,’ yellow diamonds are more reasonably priced than pinks, blues, greens, purples and reds. The more exotic colors can be very rare and quite costly.

Variations in color are caused by the presence of different natural trace elements when the diamond crystallized millions of years ago under enormous heat and pressure.  For example, fancy yellow diamonds have nitrogen in their atomic structure; fancy blue diamonds have boron; fancy green diamonds exhibit natural radiation in the earth; and fancy pink diamonds have traces of titanium.

When cutting and polishing colored diamonds, the priority is to achieve deep, even color distribution, and cutters will often use unusual proportions, facet lengths and angles to optimize color and brilliance.

Clarity in a fancy colored diamond is secondary to color, and the GIA will certify “color only” for a fancy color (if asked to do so).

When selecting a fancy colored diamond, remember that each gem is unique… many of the less intense colors have a wonderful charm and a colored stone should be selected because it speaks to you rather than because of details on a certificate.  Colored diamonds often look best when contrasted with fine white diamonds… visit our gallery to view designs from the Catherine Ryder collection.

 

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