If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, than fancy colored stones are clearly a girl’s BFF. Fancy diamonds offer up every color nature has to offer including red, purple, orange, and green. By far, the rarest are blue and pink and the most common are yellow and brown. There are also fancy blacks, grays and whites. While white diamonds are often used to describe colorless diamonds, fancy white diamonds are different in that they have an iridescent sheen akin to opals.
THE CHOICE WASN’T ALWAYS YOURS
As far back as the sixth century, fancy diamonds were graded next to the likes of flowers and seashells. Then in turn, the colored stones graded you based on your social status. Religious leaders were allowed to wear white to colorless diamonds, warriors and landowners wore brown, and merchants got yellow diamonds. The lower class was only allowed to don gray or black diamonds. Kings, of course, would wear whatever they pleased.
FABULOUSLY FAMOUS AND RARE FANCIES
Only one in 10,000 diamonds has a fancy color. One of the rarest is a stunning 5.51 carat blue-green diamond aptly called The Ocean Dream. Its unusual hue is the result of millions of years of radiation exposure as it waited to be mined in Central Africa.
Another rare stone mined in Central Africa is a 5.54 carat cushion-cut orange diamond dubbed “The Pumpkin Diamond.” It’s one of the largest Fancy Vivid orange diamonds in the world. The Winston’s, as in The House of Harry Winston, bought the stone and set it into a ring with smaller white diamonds. Halle Berry wore this very ring when she accepted her Best Actress Oscar in 2002.
Another rare gem is the 5.11 carat Moussaieff Red Diamond. It’s a triangular brilliant-cut red diamond that is the rarest of the rare and just truly breathtaking. It was miraculously discovered in a river by a Brazilian farmer in the 1990s.
The Pink Star Diamond is the largest Fancy Vivid pink diamond in the world. Pink diamonds are very rare at any size, but a 59.60 carat oval brilliant-cut pink diamond is off-the-charts rare. Add to that its Internally Flawless grade and it clearly stands out as one of the rarest stones in the world.
THE MAD SCIENCE OF COLORS
Fancy diamonds are so rare because a thousand things need to be just right for their creation. All diamonds start out the same – with high heat and high-pressure joining forces deep inside the earth’s core. Invite some trace minerals and foreign particulates to a game of hide-and-seek and voila — you have a miracle of nature called fancy diamonds. But those minerals and particulates can’t take all the credit because variations in heat, pressure, and radiation can also exert influence over a diamonds color.
There are a few basic hues, but differing levels of saturation result in hundreds of different shades. Though it’s important to note that not all fancy stones have the same range of shades. While yellow diamonds have wildly varying shades, blue and green diamonds don’t have a wide range of saturation due to the former having a hint of gray and the latter either a gray or brown cast.
Pink, Red and Brown Diamonds
Take the standard intense heat and pressure that create colorless diamonds and add more than an extra pinch of the same – this recipe creates a more compressed internal diamond structure resulting in a green light that reflects a pink hue. This same pink hue offers up varying shades of red, brown, and of course pink. Depending on the saturation, this can result in very rare red diamonds or more common brown diamonds.
Blue and Gray Diamonds
Blue and gray diamonds have supernovas and cosmic rays to thank for throwing down their elements deep into the earth’s crust. The resulting boron is not only a rare element on Planet Earth, but also in our solar system. When the boron bonds to a diamonds carbon, the result is the absorption of red, yellow, and green hues resulting in a blue or gray color.
These are late-bloomers as they don’t get their color until the last leg of their journey. As they near the earth’s surface, radiation absorption causes them to reflect a green hue that absorbs red and yellow light.
It’s believed that an unusually high presence of hydrogen is the cause of purple diamonds, though no one is exactly sure. The only thing that’s for certain is that purple diamonds have crystal distortion. They’re sometimes called violet or lavender diamonds, among other monikers.
Yellow and Orange Diamonds
Nitrogen is the deal with yellow and orange stones. For yellow diamonds, the nitrogen atoms form in such a way that they absorb blue light resulting in the yellow color. Nitrogen is also responsible for orange diamonds, but in this case it absorbs both blue and yellow light to create the orange color.
Making the Grade
Beyond the Z range of colorless diamonds is where fancy diamonds join the party. The lowest grade for a fancy diamond is Faint and the highest is Fancy Deep. Grades in between are Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy to Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, and Fancy Dark.
When it comes to clarity, color still holds all the cards. If a stone has numerous inclusions and a great color, as long as those inclusions don’t impact the color face-up or its durability, it doesn’t impact the value as much as the color grade does.
As far as the cut, it’s only as great as it serves to enhance the color. A diamond with a deeper pavilion can help lead to a more intense color by letting light travel further into it. Certain shapes also have sway when it comes to color. Radiant cuts have been known to intensify the color of yellow diamonds. In fact, just the right cut can tip the scales from mere colorless stones with a yellow tint into the fancy camp.
With few exceptions, larger fancy diamonds are far more rare than their colorless counterparts and thus far more pricey.
Fancy diamonds are becoming more and more popular in engagement rings and anniversary jewelry. When it comes to fancy pink diamond engagement rings, everyone remembers the short-lived romance of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in part because of that stunning 6.10 carat pink diamond engagement ring from Harry Winston. The ring never made it down the aisle and JLo ended up giving back the ring with a $1.2M price tag. Ouch.
Some other gorgeous fancy pink diamond engagement rings belong to Blake Lively and Mariah Carey. Lively’s eye-popping 12 carat pink oval-cut stone is set in a rose gold Art Deco setting. Gorgeous! Carey’s impressive 17 carat emerald-cut pink diamond engagement ring is surrounded by a halo of 58 pink diamonds and two half-moon diamond sentries. Canary yellow diamond engagement rings are very popular, including with American Idols Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
Spunky actress Kristen Bell was proposed to with 3.0 carat emerald-cut peach-colored diamond that is in the brown diamond family, though it does owe it’s brilliance to an orangey hue. Bell’s ring is an exciting example of the possibility of brown diamonds if you get just the right shade.
When it comes to purple, orange, blue, red, and green diamond engagement rings, you have the opportunity to make your mark as no high-profile icon has yet dared. If you’re thinking that a blue diamond might be for you, you’re in luck as iconic Shirley “Good Ship Lollipop” Temple’s 12th birthday present is currently on the market. This 9.54 carat Fancy Deep blue cushion-cut diamond ring was purchased by Temple’s father in the early 1940s for around $7,000. Today it’s looking to score at least $25M. Get out your checkbook, if you dare.
There are fabulous purple diamonds out there and one of the most fabulous is the Royal Purple Heart Diamond. It’s an impressive 7.34 carats and is, as for now, the largest purple diamond known to man. It originated from Russia and is somewhere in parts and hands unknown. Which is probably a wise choice since large purple diamonds are about as rare as the Purple Rain Prince serenaded about.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Are you ready to dive into the colorful world of eye-candy that is colored stones? Give me a call at 619.223.2151 to talk fancies.