Even more rare than colorless diamonds (one out of 10,000), fancy color diamonds come in every color of the spectrum, yellow diamonds being the most common and red the rarest ones.
Color is the most important characteristic of all 4 Cs when fancy color diamonds are concerned. Color is followed by carat weight and cut, whereas clarity is not very important. Generally, the bigger the carat weight and the more intense the color, the rarer and more valuable a fancy color diamond will be. The cut is such to maximize the color, as it is the predominant feature.
Color of fancy color diamonds is not measured on a D-Z scale as with colorless diamonds, but rather in terms of hue, tone and saturation.
Hue refers to the primary and most dominant diamond color. GIA uses 27 different colors for fancy diamonds color grading. Apart from the main color, diamonds can have one or more secondary colors or modifiers. The main color is the last one mentioned in the grading report.
Tone determines how light or dark the color of a diamond is, whereas saturation refers to the strength and intensity of diamond color.
Fancy color diamonds are graded as follows:
Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Dark, and Fancy Deep.
Besides yellow fancy color diamonds, there are also pink, green, blue, orange, black, gray, brown, white and red diamonds.
Fancy Yellow DiamondsFancy Yellow diamonds (also known as canary diamonds) comprise 60% of all fancy color diamonds and owe their color to the presence of nitrogen. Although yellow diamonds can be found in great variety of hues, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds are very rare. Most common secondary colors in yellow diamonds are brownish yellow, greenish yellow and orangish yellow. Fancy yellow diamonds are mainly mined in South Africa. Apart from the best-known Tiffany yellow diamond worn by Audrey Hepburn, there is also the famous Cushion shaped 101.29-carat (20.258 g) Allnatt diamond rated as Fancy Vivid Yellow. It is named after Major Alfred Ernest Allnatt who was one of the diamond’s holders.
Fancy Blue DiamondsFancy Blue diamonds are considerably rare and come in all shades from light blue to dark blue. These diamonds owe their blue color to the presence of boron. Traces of hydrogen make diamonds grayish blue; nitrogen makes them gray or sometimes violet. Greenish blue and grayish blue are the most common secondary colors. Just like pink ones, blue diamonds are usually sold for millions of dollars thanks to their rarity. Blue diamonds are mined in Australia, South Africa and India. The most popular and famous blue diamond is the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond graded as fancy deep grayish blue.
Fancy Pink DiamondsFancy Pink diamonds are extremely scarce and therefore immensely valuable and compelling. 80% of all pink diamonds come from the Argyle mine in Western Australia, although that quantity is significantly smaller in comparison to the overall amounts of yellow and brown diamonds. Although the origin of pink color in pink diamonds is still puzzling and unknown, numerous scientific researches have indicated that pink color most likely comes from defect centers with missing carbon atoms in the diamond lattice, which leads to selective light absorption. Pink diamonds can come in all grades from Faint Pink to Fancy Deep Pink. The 186-carat diamond named Darya e Noor (also known as the Sea of Light or the River of Light) is the world’s largest pink diamond.
Fancy Green DiamondsFancy Green diamonds are the second rarest ones, just after the rarest fancy red diamonds. Pure green diamonds with no secondary colors are extremely rare and invaluable. Since green is a combination of yellow and blue, green diamonds can range from bluish green to yellowish green, although gray and brown traces are not uncommon. Green diamond color is due to radiation, beta and gamma rays being accumulated within a diamond during its formation. Green diamonds are mined in Australia, Russia, India, South Africa, Ghana, Brazil and Congo. The most famous green diamond is the 41-carat Dresden Green.
Fancy Brown DiamondsFancy Brown diamonds are the most common and easily affordable. They come in various shades, usually described as cognac, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, champagne, walnut, honey, bronze, hazel, golden etc. Secondary colors in brown diamonds mostly include yellow, orange, pink, red and gray. The majority of brown diamonds are mined in the Argyle mine in Western Australia, but they can also be found in Russia, South Africa and Brazil. Their distinctive brown color comes from impurities such as nickel in combination with internal graining caused by molecular defects in the diamond lattice. The 545.67-carat (109.13 g) Golden Jubilee Diamond is currently the largest cut and most famous brown diamond in the world.
Fancy Orange DiamondsPure Fancy Orange diamonds are extremely rare; traces of yellow, brown and pink are usually present. Since orange is a mixture of red and yellow, most common secondary colors are yellowish orange, pinkish orange and brownish orange. Orange diamonds predominantly come from the Argyle mine in Western Australia, but can be found in South Africa too. Although still a topic of debate, their orange color most likely comes from impurities such as nitrogen in combination with molecular defects. The most popular orange diamond is the 5.54-carat Pumpkin diamond that Halle Berry wore at the 2002 Academy Awards.
Fancy Gray DiamondsFancy Gray diamonds are easily affordable and come in every shade from light (smoke) gray to dark (graphite) gray. They owe their gray color to hydrogen and sometimes boron. A diamond is said to have primary gray color when it possesses little or no saturation. Gray is also the most common secondary color in diamonds. Although diamonds are not conductors of electricity, gray and blue diamonds act like semiconductors. Gray diamonds are mined in Australia, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. They make 2% of all colored diamonds mined at the Argyle mine in Western Australia. The secondary colors present in gray diamonds include yellow, brown, black, blue, green, pink and purple. Gray diamonds will look cooler with green and blue as secondary colors; yellow or brown will make them warmer. Although gray diamonds are not as popular as diamonds in other colors, a 10.67-carat gray diamond was sold for nearly $1.2 million at a Christie’s auction in 2011.
Fancy Black DiamondsFancy Black diamonds (also known as carbonado diamonds) are the hardest of all diamonds. They can be found in the Central African Republic and Brazil, but not at the usual mining locations. Black diamonds are uniquely different from other diamonds; they are porous and have a polycrystalline structure that gives them black color and makes them absorb light, not retract it. A wide range of secondary colors can be found in black diamonds, blue and violet being the most frequent ones. The origin of black diamonds is still under debate due to their different physical characteristics. Some of the theories claim that black diamonds are the result of radiation or a collision of the Earth and an asteroid long time ago when Africa and South America were still one big continent. The 67.50-carat Cushion cut diamond named the Black Orlow is the most famous black diamond.
Fancy Colorless DiamondsAlthough colorless diamonds are sometimes referred to as white, there are also Fancy White diamonds that possess milky luster similar to that of white moonstone. Their color is due to numberless nitrogen-created subatomic inclusions that scatter light. Brown, yellow, blue and gray are the most common secondary colors in fancy white diamonds. They are mined in Zimbabwe, Congo and Central Africa.
Fancy Red DiamondsFancy Red diamonds are the rarest of all. Until now, less than 20 diamonds have been graded as red, which justifies their extremely high price. Their red color is the result of a rare deformation in a molecular structure called plastic deformation. Orange, purple and brown are the usual secondary colors in red diamonds. Red diamonds are mined primarily at the Argyle mine in Western Australia, followed by the mines in South Africa and Brazil. The most popular red diamond is the 5.11-carat triangular brilliant called Moussaieff Red Diamond.
Fancy Chameleon DiamondsFancy Chameleon diamonds are usually greenish in appearance but they can change their color to yellowish hues when submitted to lighting variations or when heated to 250 C° (phenomenon called thermochromism). Once these diamonds are cooled down, they resume their original color. The color change is also attributed to great amounts of nitrogen.