When we talk about diamond colour, we’re usually talking about the lack of it. Colourless diamonds - or absolutely colourless, if you’re really stinking rich - are the créme de la créme of diamonds. They’re the ones rated D or E on the colour scale and they’re the rarest and most desirable diamonds on the planet. Or are they?
What are fancy diamonds?
‘Fancy diamonds’ is the term given to diamonds with colour - usually, those with a lot of colour, whether that’s brown, yellow, pink, blue or red. You might have seen them advertised on TV. You might have seen one gracing a celebrity. You might even have been tempted, in 2013, to bid on “The Pink Star”, a 59-carat vivid pink diamond which eventually sold for $83 million.
However you’ve encountered fancy diamonds, the name says it all. They’re not just diamonds; they’re fancy diamonds. Fancier diamonds.
But what does this mean? Is ‘fancy’ a good thing? How do fancy diamonds relate to colourless diamonds? Is it possible to be more crème than the crème de la crème?
Are fancy diamonds good or bad?
Feeling confused about coloured vs colourless diamonds is natural. We diamond experts have been telling you for ages to avoid colour in diamonds. Colour = bad. No colour = good. So are we lying?
Of course not. The important thing to know is, there’s a big difference between a true fancy diamond and a diamond that has colour. ‘Traditional’ diamonds (the clear-coloured ones) are graded on a scale according to how much (or rather, how little) colour they possess. D and E colour diamonds are colourless and expensive, because they’re rare. Most of the diamonds we sell fall in the more affordable F-J range, which have a tiny hint of colour but not enough that you can actually tell.
As you go down the colour scale - way down to the S-Z range - that hint of colour becomes much more noticable. You get diamonds that look yellow, or even brown, due to other elements getting mixed in with the diamond as it’s being formed. These diamonds are very common and they’re not usually used in the jewellery trade. Rather, they’re typically sold quite cheaply to industry, where it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you stay sharp and cut stuff all day long.
Diamonds that are pink, green, blue and red, are different. These are much, much rarer than the average brown and yellow diamonds - rarer even than colourless diamonds. A lot of the pink diamonds come from one mine in Australia that will be depleted by 2020, which is one reason these diamonds command high prices. Blue and red diamonds are the rarest of all.
So are fancy coloured diamonds worth more?
Yes and no. The problem comes when common, brown or yellow coloured stones are marketed as rare and valuable fancy diamonds. Sometimes this happens unintentionally, due to confusion or lack of knowledge on the part of the buyer. More often, it’s an attempt by the diamond industry or canny jewellers to make money out of all those brown and yellow diamonds they’ve got lying around (remember, the industry-grade ones?). Whether it’s ‘cognac diamonds’ in the 1970s or 21st century ‘chocolate diamonds’, these commonly available, less valuable diamonds are being advertised as a luxury item.
Of course, it is possible to buy a high quality brown diamond, if the cut and clarity are good and the colour is deep and even. So if you like brown diamonds, there’s absolutely no harm in buying one – it’s still a diamond after all. Just be aware that it’s a more common type of diamond - so don’t be conned into paying too much for it.
Investing in fancy diamonds
Unfortunately, too many people are being sold “fancy diamonds” as an investment, only to find out later their “rare” brown stone isn’t really worth that much at all. One such person recently approached us with a view to selling a fancy brown diamond he’d bought for £5000. It was only worth £150.
Maybe, though, you've got your heart set on a pink diamond. They’re rare, right? So buying one of those is a good thing, isn't it?
Well, yes, if you can afford it. Because they’re so rare, you’re not going to pick up a cheap pink diamond. Some people are quoting $100,000 per carat for pink diamonds. And if you think that sounds crazy, bear in mind that’s a conservative figure. Other people claim $1 million per carat is more accurate.
The truth is, if you want a fancy coloured diamond, brown or yellow may be all most of us can afford. But then those diamonds aren't really that fancy - and they’re certainly not fancier than colourless diamonds.
Do’s and Don'ts of Buying Fancy Coloured Diamonds
Keep these points in mind if you've got your heart set on a fancy coloured diamond:
- understand what you’re buying and pay the right market price for it
- perform the same quality checks as you would for a colourless diamond and always buy the best quality (especially the best cut) that you can afford
- do buy certified if possible
- if you’re buying a brown or yellow diamond, don’t pay more than a third of the price of an equivalent quality near-colourless diamond
- be fooled by marketers trying to sell you “pure cocoa” diamonds at a premium
- buy fancy diamonds as an investment - only buy one because you love it