All You Need to Know About Fancy Coloured Diamonds (Almost)
Fancy Coloured Diamonds
The diamond is considered to be the ultimate precious gemstone for many consumers. It is carbon, stable, and one of the hardest substances known to man. While they do come in a variety of colours, the colourless/white diamond is the standard bearer for this category of stone.
Diamonds are graded on the 4C's as mentioned, and their value is enhanced by the desirability and availability of the stone. Exclusivity in the market, processing and marketing of diamonds also affects their price.
This exclusivity creates a market for imitation, fraud and trickery, so certificates of authenticity, generally issued by the GIA, and assessment at 10x magnification are common for the stone.
Natural Fancy Coloured Diamonds
While white diamonds certainly have the spotlight when it comes to consumer demand, stepping outside the mass market opens up a glittering display of natural coloured diamonds. Reserved for the connoisseur consumer, these stones have been making quite a comeback. Natural coloured diamonds come in every colour imaginable, but the market leaders at the moment according to the Natural Coloured Diamond Association are:
Brown diamonds have generally been rebranded to the more consumer friendly colours of chocolate or cinnamon, but are also commonly known as champagne (I know, brown champagne..?) and cognac. Nearly £9 billion worth of stones in this shade are sold annually.
The largest cut natural diamond, the Golden Jubilee, was a 545 carat present to the King of Thailand that took three years to polish. Brown is a very versatile colour and goes with most skin tones. It is also a colour that works very well for men. Brown diamonds are at the more reasonably priced range of the spectrum. They mount very well in pink or rose gold to highlight their pink and orangy fire.
Pure, rich yellows are more valued than the lighter hues, although all tones are credited with enhancing the wearer's aura. Yellow diamonds are primarily found in Africa, and the first diamond ever authenticated on the continent was a yellow stone.
Fashion designers and celebrities are all fans of yellow diamonds. In fact, yellow diamond engagement rings are making quite a comeback. Yellow diamonds are more expensive than browns and the more vivid colours can cost more than colourless diamonds. As with all coloured diamonds, secondary hues such as brown, orange and green are also found
Pink diamonds are getting increasingly rare, with the best pink diamonds coming from the Argyle mine in Australia. Dwindling supplies have lead to very high prices. Full-bodied pinks are more precious than paler hues. Red diamonds are amongst the most expensive in the world. Argyle pink diamonds with an Argyle certificate can fetch a huge premium over their non Argyle equivalents. Pink diamonds tend to be included and clean stones are very rare indeed. Pink diamonds from fancy pink and up are considered a very good investment as prices have risen dramatically over the years and continue to do so.
Blue diamonds are produced mainly from the Cullinan mine in Pretoria. The famous Hope diamond is a lovely example of a blue and gained mass market awareness when a blue diamond necklace was featured in the movie Titanic. Both light and dark hues are valued, as long as there is good lustre in the stone and a minimum of inclusions. Diamonds also come in reds, oranges, greens, greys and black.
Colour Grading Of Fancy Coloured Diamonds
Grading fancy coloured diamonds requires skill and expertise. Stones are graded from the side and face up, looking through the top of the diamond. Reaching instinctively for the rules of the 4Cs will not work as well as one might think.
As fancy coloured diamonds are inherently just that - coloured - there are a number of factors related to hue and tone that go into the judgement of the stone's value.
Strength of Colour
In general, the stronger the colour, the more rare and expensive the stone is perceived to be. The industry generally uses six levels of colour strength rating. The strongest colour is Vivid, then Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense, Fancy, Fancy Light and Light.
The dominant colour is the most obvious colour visible in the diamond. This will affect the price category the stone is considered under. Even though a stone may appear one colour it may only be a secondary colour you are identifying.
There is also the issue of secondary tones - for each colour, some secondary shade is usually present, which can enhance the uniqueness of the stone, or detract from it. How valued the secondary tone will be is dependent on both the rarity of the tone and its perception in the eyes of the buyer. For instance, a brownish pink stone will be much more than a pinkish brown.
Unlike white diamonds, clarity in fancy colours is not a primary price determenant. Due to colour saturation, inclusions will be more generally accepted. Eye visible inclusions will always adversly affect the value of a stone and while clients prefer VS quality stones, Good SIs are often acceptable. A VVS stone will fetch a premium, but often that premium is vlued more highly by the seller than the buyer.
The standard Diamond Clarity Grading Scale is used.
This is the least quantifiable of the colour gradients, yet it is a factor in final sales. Whatever the colour of the stone, it must be treasured and valued by the consumer for a transaction to take place. By this I mean you could have a very fine stone in your hand that you think is very special, but if your customer doesn't like it, it's not going to sell. You might have to help your customer understand the subtleties and neuances of coloured diamonds.
As with all stones, there are treatments and enhancements that if you are aware of, you might be happy about (treated blues, pinks and yellows are not uncommon), but if you are not, the treatment can be very deceptive.
My advice would be to ask for a certificate, if only to show it is natural. For smaller stones you should trust your supplier and hope they work through a trusted network.
Armed with a little more knowledge, the next engagement ring you sell might be a Fancy Coloured Diamond ring.