19 August, 2018

The Lure of Fancy-Coloured Diamonds

Diamonds are fascinating objects. They form deep within the earth and come in an array of different shapes, sizes and colours. 

One of the reasons why fancy-coloured diamonds are so entrancing lies in the feelings they evoke when we interact with them. Their tones and intensity of colour can result in beautiful diamonds which cost a lot of money.

The key driver for this is their rarity.

How Rare are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?

Fancy-coloured diamonds are rare. However, not as rare as the following:

  • Winning an Oscar - 11,500 to 1.
  • Finding a pearl in an Oyster - 12,000 to 1.
  • Dating a Supermodel - 88,000 to 1.

For every 10,000 diamonds found, ONE is a fancy-coloured diamond!

In this guide, we are exploring the rich and intense world of fancy-coloured diamonds. However, we need to start from the beginning.

How Are Diamonds Created?

Diamonds form deep in the earth, born out of carbon.

During the natural process of a diamond forming, other elements can interfere which changes the appearance of the diamond. For example, when a diamond becomes saturated, or soaked, with nitrogen, it develops a yellow colour. The amount of nitrogen exposed to the diamond will influence the shade of yellow.

When dealing with fancy-coloured diamonds, the quality of the colour is vital because it can affect its price. You can read about how colour affects a diamond's price in our blog post: Diamond Guide - Colour

What Fancy-Coloured Diamonds are the Most Expensive?

The most-valuable fancy-colours are those with a single colour. They are difficult to find because they can have secondary colours which impact their purity.

To extrapolate as much colour as possible, the cut of the diamond becomes important because it affects how light travels through the diamond.

For example, the size of the diamond, or the deeper its pavilion, enables light to travel deeper to show a rich colour.

For more information, check our blog post: Diamond Guide - Cut.

How are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds Evaluated?

Similar to a diamond, established bodies like the GIA use a set of principles to determine their quality. These principles have become universally-adopted and consist of cut, clarity, colour and carat which make up the 'Four Cs' of a diamond.

Grading a fancy colour is rigorous because they don't have the same number of points on a colour scale. For example, Black and yellow diamonds don't share the same depth of colour. 

When a fancy-coloured diamond is under evaluation, the GIA (Gemological Institute Of America) established another principle which focuses on three areas: 

  • Hue - The colour e.g. purplish-pink.
  • Tone - How light or dark the colour is e.g. light, medium, dark etc.
  • Strength/Saturation - How weak/strong the colour is? E.g. fancy, fancy vivid etc.

Let's take a closer look at these principles.

Fancy-Coloured Diamonds Guide - Hue

The hue will describe the colour of the diamond. However, it isn't uncommon for a fancy-coloured diamond to have a secondary colour. This can affect its purity and ultimately, the price. To get an insight into clarity, take a look at our blog post: Diamond Guide - Clarity

Prized combinations are those which don't consist of yellow or brown as the primary colour. 

Trivia  - when a diamond has two colours, the first colour mentioned will modify the actual colour e.g. reddish pink.

Fancy-Coloured Diamonds Guide - Tone 

The tone will measure the how light or dark the hue of the main colour. This can range from faint to dark.

Let's go through some examples:

  • 'Light' - their level of saturation is low.
  • Fancy Light - it means the stone has darker tones than light and mild levels of saturation.
  • Fancy Vivid - a light tone but contains the best level of saturation.
  • Fancy Dark - A dark tone and high levels of saturation.

Fancy-Coloured Diamonds Guide - Saturation

Saturation refers to the intensity of the main colour. The colour's tone can affect the saturation. For example, diamonds with a lighter tone can have a saturation from light to vivid. 

However, diamonds with a darker tone can have saturation levels which range from dark to deep. 

To remember the difference with saturation and tone, imagine water diluting the main colour. The colour is still there but it's lighter in tone.

Buying a Fancy-Coloured Diamond

If you're considering buying a natural stone, it's necessary to understand the potential pitfalls. The rarity of natural stones has made their value increase and to mimic what they look like, procedures can 'treat' the colour of a cheap stone.

What is the difference with a natural stone and a treated stone?

A fancy-coloured stone is, as the name suggests, a stone which obtained its colour by nature. A 'treated' stone requires a procedure that exposes a stone to high temperatures and pressure to change its colour to appear like a fancy-coloured stone.

Examples of the stones used for this enhancement are cheap brown-coloured stones. 

How do you spot a treated stone?

You can identify a treated stone by the intensity of its colour. It should resemble a semi-precious stone such as an Amethyst or a Citrine. 

Trivia - a precious stone is a diamond, ruby, sapphire or emerald.

If you're purchasing a treated diamond, they should be cheaper than a fancy-coloured stone so ensure the vendor is a credited source.

We hope you enjoyed the guide! Look out for the follow-up which explores the different coloured stones!

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What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?
What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?
What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?
What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?
What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?