Fancy color diamonds are nature’s uniquely valuable gift to the world of precious stones. A diamond is a composed of compressed carbon atoms that formed into a repeating geometric pattern millions of years ago under the Earth’s surface. Fancy colored diamonds are the natural phenomenon where another element was introduced during the diamond’s formation, allowing for the presence of a beautiful color. Only 1 in every 1,000 carats of diamonds mined each year are colored, and the rarer colors occur even less frequently – 1 in every 10,000 carats mined. This quantity is steadily shrinking although colorless diamonds still exist readily in nature in large quantities.
In order to classify diamonds as Natural fancy color diamonds, they are certified in a gemological institute such as GIA, HRD, or IGI according to their attributes.
The 12 different main colors of Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds
Once a stone has been graded and certified, the natural color diamond will have its own personal ID which includes an ID number for the loose diamond, its measurements, weight, shape, clarity, polish, symmetry and fluorescence. These categories are usually classified as the 4Cs of diamonds – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight, although Shape usually comes into play as well as fluorescence for some.
Natural fancy color diamonds appear as one primary color. However, most of the natural fancy color diamonds that are mined are not a pure color. Some diamonds have a combination of two, three, and sometimes even four colors within the composition of the stone. The presence of color and the intensity of its shine is specifically what increase the value of the diamonds.
The color of the diamonds is defined by a number of characteristics. Different compound elements in the stones produce the exquisite color in fancy color diamonds. A color diamond is considered the most beautiful when its exhibits a strong presence of color in the diamond that is easily identifiable to the human eye. By definition, a perfect colorless diamond has no additional chemical traits, a structurally perfect form, and absolutely no color at all. However, locating such a stone is nearly impossible, if it even exists.
The color is affected by structural defects in the crystal lattice that can influence the optical transparency, and the addition of chemical impurities contained in the stones composition. For example, the greater the element of nitrogen (N) found in the composition of the stone, the stronger the presence of a yellow color will be. The greater the element of boron (B) found in the composition of the stone, the stronger the presence of a blue color will be. composition of these elements is specifically what makes these stones so magical.
The various diamond colors found are blue, pink, yellow, orange, green, brown, grey, black, purple, violet, white, and the rarest red. However, as rare as color diamonds are, pure or single color stones are even more difficult to acquire. Most colored diamonds are combinations of certain colors, with secondary hues or overtones.
Fancy loose color diamonds are polished in a different manner than colorless diamonds. This is done in order to emphasize the diamond’s color as much as possible. By definition, the cut is the naturally prearranged faceted arrangements of the diamond. In the industry, the 'make' of the diamond is the degree of how professionally the faceted arrangement is created, since it is through the cut that the finished product is made,
Without the sparkle and shine one expects to see, a diamond would appear as just another nice looking gemstone. Granted, the color and clarity of the diamond are both major contributors to the brilliance – but the cut is precisely what changes the stone from a shimmer to shine.
No two diamond roughs will be exactly identical. The challenge of the diamond cut is the technique of how to derive the best finished product from the diamond’s rough.
People often confuse the cut with the shape of a stone. However, even though they are related, they are not at all the same. The diamond cut refers to the style used to form the stone regardless of the diamonds shape. The styles are different forms of symmetry, polish, and geometric proportioning between the diamonds many facets, otherwise known as the make. Any specific diamond shape can have more than one different diamond cuts. The styles are in every sense of the words both a science and an art.
Light Within the Stones
In a colorless stone, since the objective is to remain as colorless as possible, the amount of time light remains within the stone must be condensed. However, with Fancy Color Diamonds, the longer the light remains within the facets of the stone, the stronger the color appears.
The amount of facets that are cut in the diamond, and their proportion to one another, will depend entirely on the shape that is planned for the stone. Different styles of polishing the diamond are preferred for different shapes.
The objective of a fancy colored diamond is quite different than a colorless stone. The goal is to increase the color intensity and improve the color saturation. Therefore, Fancy Colored Diamonds often contain asymmetric, elongated facets. This helps to control the light that reflects through the stone. Since the color is actually the most important attribute of a fancy colored diamond, cutting it in a way that causes this affect can only help increase the value of the stone.
When it appears as a single color, the price of the diamond will be considerably more expensive than a diamond with a secondary hue.
The intensity grading system for fancy color diamonds differs than that of colorless diamonds. Unlike colorless diamonds, whose scale ranges from the letter D-Z, fancy color diamonds are graded by Faint, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep, Fancy Dark, and Fancy Vivid.
Usually, an untrained person might be able to differentiate two of the four parameters: weight and color. The other two parameters, clarity and cut, are more complex and require expertise.
Most diamonds obtain certain imperfections from the volcanic rock where the diamond formed. The imperfections are natural internal occurrences called inclusions, and external occurrences named blemishes. Clarity, therefore, refers to the nature, color, number and size of such inclusions or blemishes.
Examples of internal inclusions:
- Carbon: small black spots caused by carbon;
- Feathers: internal fractures that look like feathers;
- Clouds: minute microscopic crystals of dust-like appearance;
- Twinning plane: plane between two twin crystals created during growth;
- Needles: inclusions of the appearance of needles of Rutile compositions.
Examples of external inclusions:
- Chips: damage to the sharp edge of a facet;
- Bruising: mark caused by impact;
- Cavities: a dent caused either by a feather or the polishing process;
- Knots: a bulge caused by an inclusion penetrating the surface of a stone;
- Pits: minute pinpoint inclusions on the surface.
The diamond’s Clarity grade is determined not by the naked eye, but by the stone’s appearance when viewed under a 10x power magnification, and by an experienced grader. Grades FL (flawless) through SI (some inclusions), which are not normally visible, affect the value of the diamond but not its external appearance when viewed with the naked eye.
Darker inclusions found in white or colorless diamonds will have the greatest affect on a lower diamond clarity grading. In fancy color diamonds, lighter inclusions are the cause of significant drop in clarity grade.
Although it contains several inclusions, the colorless Graff Excelsior is considered one on the world's most beautiful diamonds.
A carat refers to the unit of measurement that is used to describe the weight of the diamond. The carat weight is not the technical metric weight and size of the diamond, although the two measurements are definitely related.
Regardless of how heavy the diamond weighs on the metric scale, when someone looks at a diamond they often concentrate on the size of the table, the focal point in the cut of a diamond. Since the table is what everyone other than the assessing jeweler sees, this is the most important aspect of the diamonds appearance.
In the diamond boxes shown in the image below, the face size of each of the stones are quite similar. However, as seen in the image, the carat weight is significantly different between each of the diamonds as a result of the depth of the stones.
The image above displays specifically what affect diamond depth has on its appearance. From left to right: a 0.45ct stone with a 28% depth, a 1.24ct stone with a 46% depth, 0.56ct stone with a 58% depth, and a 1.14ct stone with a 70% depth.
The Size vs. the Shape
The appearance of the diamond’s size will be significantly affected by the piece of jewelry you choose and the setting in which you place the stone. Also, certain shapes tend to look larger than other shapes despite the fact that they might be a lower carat weight. For example, an Oval shape’s longer look will seem larger than a Round shape. A Marquise shape, due to its elongation, also seems to have a bigger appearance than the squatter shapes.
The two stones below look quite different in size as a result of their shapes, but there really is only 28 points between the two!
Many characteristics affect the appearance of the stone. For example, a colorless diamond that is cut very well, in a way that light can quickly pass through, will actually appear slightly bigger from the sparkle. Fancy colored diamonds work the same way, only the cut should cause the light to remain within the stone for as long as possible to help accentuate the color.
The classification of a diamond rough into the shape in which it will be cut is a complicated, intricate process. Regardless of the size of the rough, each diamond must be analyzed on its own to assess the ideal shape into which the diamond should be cut.
First, the diamond rough is categorized into an octahedron or dodecahedron triangular shape. Next, the cutter must study the rough and ensure he understands exactly what is going on inside the geological composition of the stone. Once he feels he is sufficiently familiar with the stone, he can decide the most beautiful shape that would result from the rough.
The most common shapes of color diamonds are Radiant and Cushion, although there is a plethora of diamonds available in the other shapes. Radiant and Cushion shapes, for example, are known to absorb the light and therefore often grade very well on the GIA intensity scale. They are therefore considered a 'safe bet' when it comes to shaping the stones. In fact, as a result of the facet arrangements in these shapes, imperfections may be less noticeable as well. Shapes like the Emerald and Princess cuts hold the light the least, which is why they are a rarer find in the world of color diamonds. When a color diamond is cut into a shape that holds the light less, it is because the color from the diamond rough was so vibrant that it would not have gotten lost from the shaping. However, if the cutter manages to create a Fancy Colored Emerald Cut diamond with a high level of color intensity, the value of the stone will increase considerably.
Diamond fluorescence is in essence the inclusion of elements such as nitrogen, boron, or aluminum that cause a magnificent glow. Depending on the fancy color diamond’s composition, the fluorescence can appear in a number of different shades or colors such as blue, yellow, white, orange, green, or pink. In colorless diamonds, fluorescence will generally appear only in a yellow or blue tint. Only about 35% of stones available today actually have diamond fluorescence and only about 10% of those have enough fluorescence to cause a change of appearance under ultraviolet light.
Since diamond fluorescence can glow at different levels, the GIA developed a grading scale to measure the strength of the illumination:
• Very Strong
If you don’t have access to an ultra violet lamp to view the diamonds, try using a regular black light to cause the affect.
The Effects of Diamond Fluorescence
Now, more than ever, certain compound elements are admired for the effect caused on the precious stones. Many diamond retailers will tell you that diamond fluorescence is known as a negative trait in the industry. As a result, the price of diamonds that contain diamond fluorescence is usually slightly lowered due to the 'reduced' quality of the stone. However, there are two points that must be considered about this truly amazing phenomenon: First, diamond fluorescence can only be distinguished by the naked eye under ultra violet lighting. Even a very strong fluorescence will appear extremely faint under direct sunlight. Second, Depending on the color of the stone and the color of diamond fluorescence, it can sometimes even improve the color of the stone.
Diamond fluorescence might be an excellent way to get your hands on a beautiful stone that would have been above your price range. As a result of the fluorescence, the cost will most likely be reduced. Depending on the intensity of the fluorescence, you might be able to negotiate more with the price.
In the Industry
The question of whether diamond fluorescence is a positive or negative trait is actually quite a debated subject. There have been many different opinions on the matter which both argue very true statements.
Whether diamond fluorescence will be considered a positive trait or not, will depend entirely on the color of the diamond and the color of the fluorescence.
Not all diamonds fluoresce, and ones that do can be measured. In general, the price of the diamond will not be affected if it is graded a 'Faint' fluorescence. It might be affected if the grade is 'Medium', depending on the characteristics of the stone itself. However, if there is a 'Strong' or 'Very Strong' presence in the stone, the price is likely to be reduced.
Finding a yellow diamond with fluorescence is actually quite common. However, the illumination level is usually faint. When purchasing a yellow diamond, ask the vendor what type of effect the fluorescence has on the stone’s appearance. In certain cases it might not even be noticeable. In others, it can give the stone a slight brownish tint or even a milky appearance. The potential benefit is that if the fluorescence is not actually visible, you could acquire a stone that looks no different from one without fluorescence for a significantly reduced cost. Pink colored diamonds, on the other hand, are quite difficult to find without fluorescence. In fact, since the addition is so common, especially in Argyle pink diamonds, even a strong grade will generally not negatively impact the value of the stone. In general, a pure blue diamond will not have any fluorescence at all. In the event that fluorescence is found, which often means that the diamond color exhibits a greenish overtone, the fluorescence will usually not even be noticeable. Certain diamond fluorescence is considered extremely rare and actually considered collector's items, for example, a red fluorescence. Be sure to ask a jeweler about these stones.
Most importantly, you should enjoy the diamonds you purchase. Make sure to speak to the retailer or jeweler that you are dealing with and find out all the information upfront. Have a look at the stone under different lighting and always look over the certificate.