From bright red hues to deep green sparklers, diamonds are available in far more shades than the commonly seen clear variety. Spanning all of the tones of the rainbow, these highly coveted gems are sought after for their fabulous colors and rarity in nature. However, some fancy colored diamonds are rarer than others.
In this article, we’ll explore which colors are the rarest and discover how that rarity affects pricing and availability to help you decide if a colored stone is a good fit for you and your lab diamond engagement ring or piece of lab diamond jewelry. This article will also explore if it is possible to have a colored lab grown diamond.
Where Do Colored Diamonds Come From?
Just like colorless mined diamonds, colored diamonds (also referred to as fancy diamonds) are formed from carbon naturally within the earth. Unlike colorless diamonds, a fancy diamond undergoes incredibly rare changes(happening at 0.1% of all diamonds) to their chemical structure as they form, resulting in a wide variety of gorgeous shades.
How Are Colored Diamonds Priced?
Similar to colorless diamonds, fancy diamonds are priced and graded according to the 4Cs of diamond quality – cut, color, clarity, and carat. The grading of a colored diamond’s cut, clarity, and carat follow the pricing rules of the typical diamond. However, the color grading of these stones is quite different.
According to the International Gem Society(IGS), there are nearly 30 base colors that can be used to create over 200 unique color combinations. The specific color is then examined and named by a laboratory grader who studies it to determine the base color and any secondary colors. The IGS describes it as the following, “For example, the color of a green diamond with hints of blue would be called a ‘blueish-green.’ A grader will also evaluate the hue, tone, and saturation of the color in the diamond to determine its Fancy Color. This grading is determined by the intensity of the color, and from least to most saturated are graded as faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid, fancy dark, or fancy deep. The deeper and more intense the color, the more expensive the diamond will be.”
Unlike colorless diamonds, clarity isn’t as important when it comes to fancy gemstones because the color is the main value factor. A fancy colored diamond can have several inclusions resulting in a low clarity grade and still be highly valued if it displays attractive face-up color. However, if inclusions affect a gem’s overall durability, the value of the stone can be reduced significantly. A stone’s cut will also impact its color. Over time, diamond cutters have found that specific styles such as the radiant cut, can boost the yellow color in diamonds that fall near the lower section of the diamond color scale. Yellow radiant cut diamonds sometimes referred to as ‘cape’, can be classified as fancy yellows when observed face-up, thus increasing their price per carat.
Speaking of carat weight, large, fancy color diamonds are more valuable than their smaller counterparts.
What Are the Rarest Diamond Colors?
The value of diamonds in the normal range is determined based on the absence of color because colorless stones are the rarest. Alternatively, the value of colored diamonds outside of the normal color range is determined based on the most valuable colors, such as blues, greens, and highly saturated pinks.
The Gemological Institute of America(GIA) says the following regarding diamond color and rarity, “Compared to fancy yellows and browns, diamonds with a noticeable hint of any other hue are considerably more rare. Even in light tones and weak saturation, as long as they show color in the face-up position, they qualify as fancy colors. Red, green, and blue diamonds with medium to dark tones and moderate saturations are extremely rare.”
The rarest of all colored diamonds, only 20 to 30 natural red diamonds exist in the entire world. Red diamonds are created when a gem undergoes a rare process during its formation that changes the crystal structure and allows light to pass through it differently than colorless stones.
Due to their rarity, red diamonds are also the most expensive per carat than any other fancy colored diamond. On average, these crimson gems sell for over one million dollars per carat. The largest red diamond ever sold weighed 5.11 carats and was worth eight million dollars.
Also incredibly rare are blue diamonds, which have only been found naturally in mines in South Africa, India, and Australia. These icy stones get their signature hue from the element boron, which replaces carbon in the diamond crystal structure during the growth process. Blue diamonds can range in color from just a tint of color to a captivating deep blue.
Although more common than fancy red diamonds, these dazzling gems still go for a pretty penny. A medium-toned 1 carat blue diamond will cost around $200,000 on average. And the cost only goes up as you increase the color and carat weight. The most expensive blue diamond on record totaled 14.2 carats and was sold for $3.9 million per carat. However, the most impressive blue diamond yet is the Hope Diamond weighing 45.2 carats with an estimated value of $250 million.
Also referred to as Argyle diamonds, the only known mine in the world with pink diamonds is Australia’s Argyle mine. While no rarer than the beautiful blue diamond, pink diamonds are often more expensive due to their romantic nature. Pink is a color long associated with love and romance, making the pink diamond a hot contender for a diamond engagement ring or wedding band.
The origin of these pretty stones remains unknown. Scientists have determined that pink diamonds consist of pure carbon, just like colorless diamonds, but are unable to pinpoint what exactly is changing the crystal structure to result in the gem’s warm hue.
The average Argyle diamond will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $700,000+ per carat. The world’s largest pink diamond is the Pink Star which totals 59.6 carats and was sold for $72.2 million.
Yellow and brown diamonds make up over half of the market of colored diamonds. That being said, these colorful stones are still rare, but they are priced lower to reflect their wide availability. Yellow diamonds occur due to the element nitrogen, which absorbs blue light and reflects a beautiful yellow color. Diamonds in this style come in a range of secondary colors. However, the most desired are Canary Yellow Diamonds, pure yellow fancy diamonds that are more costly than other yellow stones.
Surprisingly, some yellow diamonds can cost less than a colorless stone of comparable size and value. Yellow diamonds go for anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 per carat, making them easily accessible to the average buyer. The Graff Vivid Yellow diamond was the largest and most expensive yellow diamond ever sold, totaling 100.90 carats and $16.3 million.
Are There Lab Grown Colored Diamonds?
Colorful natural diamonds are rare and quite costly. Luckily, lab grown diamonds are an affordable alternative for those who love the look of a colored diamond but aren’t too crazy about the price tag or ethical implications associated with diamond mining. Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds as they consist of the exact same chemical makeup as natural diamonds. Available in shades of blue, pink, red, green, yellow, and more, work with your jeweler to make your colorful engagement ring or piece of jewelry a reality.