Fancy Diamond Colors
Four Cs of Fancy Color Diamonds
Like other diamonds, the price of a color diamond depends in part on the
Four Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat weight, but the factors used to
judge those qualities differ somewhat from the Four Cs of colorless
Fancy color diamonds are graded in two ways. The first factor considered
is the stone's basic hue, such as pink, yellow, blue, green, etc. The
second is the diamond's intensity. Both color characteristics form the
basis for determining a fancy colored diamond's worth.
Usually, the more intense the color, the rarer and more expensive the
diamond will be. For example, a fancy light pink diamond costs less than
a fancy vivid pink diamond of equal size, shape and clarity.
Scale of diamond color saturation: The GIA uses nine categories to grade color diamonds.
2. Very Light
4. Fancy Light
6. Fancy Dark
7. Fancy Intense
8. Fancy Deep
9. Fancy Vivid
Color undertones: A secondary undertone that enhances the color of a
diamond is a plus. A secondary that detracts from the color is a
negative. For instance:
• a purplish pink color diamond can be worth more than a pink diamond, depending on the amount and intensity of purple
• a brownish tint in a pink diamond usually decreases its value, and makes it a more affordable gemstone
Color Diamond Cut & Shape
Like other diamonds, fancy colored diamonds achieve maximum brilliance
when cut to the most ideal and accurate proportions. A good cut gives a
fancy diamond its sparkle and helps to bring out the most intense color
When cutting color diamonds, the cutter usually considers its
inclusions, because they can enhance the diamond's color. Facets and
angles also add color to a diamond, so the cutter must think about what
shape would bring out the gemstone's best appearance.
Due to the rarity, it may only be possible to find a smaller colored diamond, which can be set beautifully with imagination.
Sometimes, a lighter stone can be set in the same color metal to
increase the intensity of the color. A light Pink may be set in a pink
gold cage or a yellow diamond may be set in a yellow gold cage, while
the rest of the ring, the microset pave diamonds and the shank, are
white gold or platinum.
Black Diamonds are sometimes used as the large major stone, but more
often than not, they are used to highlight lighter color stones and are
usually set in gold that has been plated with black rhodium to deepen
Coatings & Other Color Tricks
Coatings applied to change a diamond's color are not permanent and are nearly always done to deceive the buyer.
Diamonds are sometimes coated with a substance that masks yellowish
tints. Though it is applied with heat, the coating will eventually rub
off with normal wear and cleaning.
Sometimes dots or larger areas of purple or blue ink are painted on the
diamond to help counteract a yellowish color. The dots are usually
obscured by the diamond's setting, so they are difficult to see in a
mounted stone. The coating can usually be removed with water or cleaning
Creating Colorful Diamonds
Irradiation, followed by a high heat treatment, can turn brown and
yellow diamonds into fancy colored diamonds--greens, vivid yellows,
blues, purples, reds and other colors. The color is usually permanent,
but could possibly change if high heat is used during setting repairs.
Natural fancy colored diamonds are expensive and out of the reach of
most buyers. A certificate from a respected grading lab should accompany
all fancy colored diamonds that are marketed as natural.
Question the ethics of anyone who attempts to sell you a natural fancy colored diamond for a bargain price.
Treatment-produced fancy colors are affordable, and allow more of us to
own a brightly colored diamond. They should not be considered an
investment. Buy one because you love it, not because you think you can
sell it for a profit later.
Ask the jeweler for care instructions when you buy an irradiated fancy color diamond.
High Pressure High Temperature Treatment (HPHT)
HPHT was first used to turn yellowish diamonds into fancy colored
diamonds, but now it is also used to transform some unpopular brownish
diamonds into more expensive colorless diamonds.
Some companies claim HPHT isn't a treatment at all, calling it a
technique that finishes the job nature started. That attitude, and the
fact that the process is difficult to detect, has made HPHT a
General Electric is producing colorless diamonds, called Bellataire,
from type IIa diamonds that are nitrogen-free. The company has applied
for a patent on the process used to transform the stones. On their
Bellataire Web site, GE states:
"BELLATAIRE Diamonds are extremely rare Type IIa diamonds that were
originally crystallized without color and were destined to become
extraordinary gems. During their journey to the surface of the Earth
through volcanic pipes, though, these crystals were subjected to intense
heat, tremendous pressure, and explosive turbulence. These conditions
caused some molecular misalignment in these crystals, resulting in a
brownish color and internal stress."
GE's position is that the process they use restores diamonds to their colorless state.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grading reports now indicate when
HTPT treatments are detected by stating "HPHT Annealed" or
"Artificially Irradiated" in the Origins portion of a report.
Only diamonds that are laser-inscribed with the words "HPHT PROCESSED," "IRRADIATED," or a specific registered name are graded.
GE uses a registration number and the letters "GE POL" to inscribe their diamonds.
There have been instances where inscribed lettering has been removed before a diamond was submitted for grading.
HPHT will continue to be a controversial topic, with grading labs trying
to perfect ways to detect the always-improving process so that
consumers can receive full disclosure about the diamonds they purchase.
Should you purchase an HPHT diamond? You're the only one who can make
that decision. The diamonds are definitely gorgeous, but choosing
between altered and natural is a personal decision.
A few facts about HPHT Diamonds:
HPHT is permanent.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that HPHT be disclosed.
Most HPHT diamonds weigh over 1/2 carat.
HPHT diamonds should cost less than similar natural diamonds.