Buying Fancy Colored Diamonds

Fancy colored diamonds exploded in popularity over the past few years thanks to celebrities wearing them in movies and in the tabloids.

Yellows, pinks, browns, blues, greens, purples, and reds... But what is a fancy color diamond?

A fancy colored diamond is a diamond that naturally contains impurities and structural defects. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything “wrong” with the diamond.

(And in fact, natural fancy diamonds of certain qualities are often more rare and more valuable than some of the most beautiful flawless white diamonds.)

It means that something happened in the natural formation process to make it different from the typical pure, white diamond.

For example...

Natural blue diamonds are created by the presence of the element Boron and natural yellow diamonds are created by the presence of Nitrogen.

And reds, pinks, and browns are the result of a defect in the crystal structure of the diamond during the formation process.

Now, while the color grading of a white diamond is straight forward (from D to Z on a standardized scale), the grading of colored diamonds is much more complex.

A fancy color diamond is graded on 3 separate elements:

First... Hue : The hue of a fancy diamond is the base category of color. Is it blue, yellow, green, brown?

Second... Tone : The tone of the diamond is the relative lightness or darkness of the stone. A “100” tone being a solid black and a “1” being extremely light.

Third... Saturation : The saturation of the fancy diamond refers to the intensity of the color. Diamonds of “faint” saturation can often be mistaken for a common “off-color” stone instead of a fancy diamond, while natural “Fancy Vivid” saturations are the rarest and most beautiful.

If you are considering buying a fancy color diamond,  remember:

While buying a white diamond can be fairly straight-forward (see our diamond buying guide), buying a fancy diamond is more complex. 

Evaluating the color quality is more complex, sure. But fancy stones being sold as “natural,” when they’ve actually been treated for color enhancement, is another minefield unto itself.

Always consult a professional jeweler/gemologist before spending a serious amount of money on a fancy colored diamond.