Looking to brighten your diamond collection? Consider these trinkets in a spectrum of colors.
By Sondra Schneider
A little over a year ago a couple of record- breaking pink diamonds went on the block at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Sotheby’s offering was a 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink that sold for $46 million, the highest price for a diamond ever paid at the time. Christie’s followed with a 14.23 carat Fancy Intense Pink, which sold for $23.2 million, an unbelievable $1.6 million per carat.
Recently, a nine carat, cushion-cut pink diamond from the estate of the mysterious gilded-age recluse heiress Huguette Clarke sold for close to $16 million, confirming what everyone in the diamond industry already knew. Colored diamonds, particularly of the rare pink variety, had become as popular and sought after as the D-Flawless whites. Historically, colored diamond prices have not been as rigidly controlled as the trade in white diamonds. The price is whatever the market will bear and apparently, the stratosphere is the limit.
While pricing of colored diamonds may be subject to leveraging desires, the qualification of a rare jewel is a scientific endeavor. With diamonds ranging in color from black (a favorite of the Italian jeweler DiGrisogono) to brown, yellow, pink, blue, green, and red, there is a lot to be considered. As a general rule, blue, green, and red diamonds tend to be smaller in carat weight, with red diamonds thought to be the rarest of the bunch. Some of the most beautiful stones are, in fact, a combination of colors like orange-yellow, yellowbrown (often called cognac), or the breathtaking purple-pink.
The standard Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color grading system, which runs from D to Z, is applicable to colorless through yellowish diamonds. The absence of color in the D grade is considered the most desirable. Diamonds with a hue and depth of color greater than Z are considered fancy color grades. That designation is of importance for the yellow stone or, as it is sometimes called, the canary diamond.
Colored diamonds exist in their own brilliant world, where not even the hallowed 4 C’s of diamond qualifications (as in color, cut, clarity and carat weight) apply. In this rarest of the jewel markets, basic hue and intensity are the benchmarks for quality and price.
Clarity and cut, which are of prime importance in white diamonds, are of less significance in colored stones where color enhancement is what matters most. The GIA lists nine grades of color, starting at Faint, with the investment grades of Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep, and Fancy Vivid.
Clearly, we are only speaking of naturally colored diamonds. Any process used to deepen the stone’s color puts a diamond outside of these categories. So beware; buy your diamond from a reputable and trustworthy dealer or auction house — or don’t buy at all. There have been cases where a yellow or pink sapphire was passed off as a colored diamond. However, that’s a story in itself.
“The very fine vivid yellow, the pink, and blues… when you have in your inventory, you can count them on the fingers of one hand.” – Henri Barguirdijan, President & CEO of Graff, USA