The cost of a diamond has always been decided based on the 4C's - Cut, Clarity, Carat and Color. According to the D to Z scale the value of the diamond increases significantly if the diamond does not reflect any color. Therefore, the layman understanding is that the absence of color signifies a more valuable diamond.
Not many people are however aware of the fact that there are various fancy colored diamonds that are far rarer than regular diamonds. It is estimated that about 2 in every hundred rough diamonds are fancy colored diamonds. And therefore specific colors of fancy diamonds are even rarer. Among the fashioned or cut diamonds only one carat in ten thousand carats of fashioned diamonds show moderate levels of saturation of a color to classify as fancy colored diamonds. This great value and rarity of fancy colored diamonds has made it the popular choice of celebrities for their diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewelry accessories. Imagine the value and rarity of a calibrated pair of fancy diamonds, especially to make a pair of diamond earrings. The prices of such pieces would be tremendous.
The colored diamonds do not follow the same concept of valuation as regular diamonds do. The higher the saturation of color, the higher the valuation on a colored diamond is. The more intense the color, more is the value. And therefore, if a yellow colored diamond has more saturation of the yellow color, it is considered to be more valuable. Also, the grade of a colored diamond other than yellow or brown is not deciphered by using the D to Z grading scale.
The rare colored diamonds have been found in various colors, the most common being yellow and brown. Diamonds with a reddish color, blue diamonds and green diamonds are extremely rare. There are specific situations that cause the diamond to become colored. Let us look at the various colored diamonds that have been found so far and how the diamonds become colored in the first place.
The 'red' family
The 'Red family' diamonds are very rare. The diamond can range from a pinkish hue to red to purple too. Some can also have a hint of orange. Among this group of colored diamond, the pink are the most common. The pink diamonds were hardly known before the Argyle mine was discovered in Australia. When the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory traded the first set of pink colored diamonds, it called it the 'Fancy pinks'. These pink diamonds continued to be sold as part of an annual sale that is hosted by the Argyle mines.
The pink color in these diamonds is caused due to the graining of the diamond crystal. If the graining is higher, the pink color is deeper. On the other hand, if the diamond has been grained to only some extent, the pink color is on the lighter side.
Diamonds in this 'reddish color' category are traded as 'rose colored diamonds'. The red coloration is known to be caused by a distortion in the diamond crystal lattice. Other diamonds in this category that have a purple tiny are sold as 'mauve colored diamonds'. The pure orange diamond without the hint of yellow or brown is the rarest of fancy colored diamonds. The color is so rare that scientists have not been able to understand or discover the exact cause behind the extraordinary color. It is believed that chemical impurities coupled with distortion in the structure causes the particular orange color.
The blue diamonds are also very rare. Most of them come with a slight hint of gray. Blue diamonds are created due to boron impurities and the higher the amount of boron, the deeper is the color of the diamond. But the blue color of a colored diamond is generally never as deep as sapphires. One of the most famous blue diamonds is the one graded by the GTL as the 'Fancy Deep Grayish Blue'. While most of the blue diamonds have been known to have boron impurities, some without these impurities have also been found. In these cases, it was considered that natural radiation caused the blue coloration.
Most of the green diamonds have muted green color that is tinted with yellow or brown and therefore most of the green diamonds that are found today are greenish-yellow in hue. In all likelihood the color of the green diamond is nowhere near the deep green of an emerald. The green color of the fancy green diamonds does not extend inside the stone in most cases. The green hue is limited to the surface and therefore extreme care is required while cutting and polishing the diamond. Inmost cases, the cutters leave a rough edge to accommodate the green hue and to avoid that green part to be cut off during the cutting process.
The green diamond is known to be a cause of radiations that can cause the atoms to move from their original place causing a new crystal lattice. Since it is the radioactivity that changes the structure and causes the green color, it is possible to artificially treated green diamonds to be created too. Since it is known that natural green diamonds are a rarity and can only occur when a diamond mine exists close to a radioactive substance deposit, green diamonds in the market are viewed extremely cautiously.
One type of green type of diamond is called the 'chameleon diamond'. This type of green colored diamond is caused due to hydrogen impurities. The diamond becomes magically to a yellow hue when heated and return to normal shade when the source of the heat is removed.
Brown colored diamonds were the first to be discovered and used in jewelry and are the most common among the colored diamonds. They were first used by Romans who set the brown diamonds in their rings and various other articles. Till these brown colored diamonds began to appear in the Argyle mines in large quantities, these brown diamonds were largely used for industrial purposes. The Australians, in an effort to make them more marketable or appealing, called them names like 'cognac' and 'champagne'.
The cause of the brown diamonds is a parallel graining of the diamond structure. Some brown diamonds have traces of yellow in them too.
The brown diamonds with medium to high saturation are most preferred and those with a reddish tinge are valued even more. Some of the 'khakhi' and 'olive' colored diamonds are really green diamonds of lower saturation.
After brown, yellow are the second most common colored diamond. They are generally marketed as 'canary colored diamonds'. The yellow hue is caused by nitrogen impurities in the diamond and those that have a brownish-yellow hue have hydrogen impurities as well.
Black Orlov is the most famous 67.50 C black diamond. Since most black diamonds are knotted or lumpy aggregates they do not make it to the cutting table for refinement. Due to the short supply and limited knowledge, these colored diamonds were not in demand. It was only when designers started using them in some jewelry and accessories in their presentations that the black diamond became high on the popularity charts.
The fancy white diamonds have a milky shade to it. These are different from the transparent ones that we know so well. The milky white hue occurs due to submicroscopic inclusions that cause the light to disperse and spread. White diamonds can be cut to demonstrate iridescent flashes.
Though diamond jewelry will always remain popular, the lure of the fancy colored diamonds lies in their rarity and their beauty. With a higher knowledge of these rarities and a higher awareness and desire for unique gems, the fancy colored diamonds are gaining immensely in popularity.
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