Coloured Diamonds aka Fancy Diamonds

When it comes to understanding the various types of diamonds, there are certain facts about these gemstones that people tend to know, even if they’re not an expert. As those who are familiar with the operations of the gem trade. Diamonds are precious stones, that command a high value, and depending on the quality of the stone, tend to command a large asking price. However, within the range of normal diamonds, there is a special subcategory of diamonds. Known as coloured or fancy diamonds. These terms are often used interchangeably. For now, we will stick with the term: coloured diamonds. To start with the basics: Coloured diamonds are real diamonds, that differ from the rest owing to the presence of a variety of hues. Here we will outline the key features of coloured diamonds, the factors that make them valuable (or not), and what you must look for when going for a quality gemstone in this category.

Distinguishing Features of Coloured Diamonds

The presence of colour, and the varying degrees to which the colours are the key features that distinguish coloured diamonds from the rest. Before we get into it, a word on the terminology: in the industry coloured diamond are also known as fancy or fancy coloured diamonds. Whilst the term “fancy” might seem like a put-off to some, this is an industry-standard term. As noted the prevalence of colour is a key feature in coloured diamonds, however, these gemstones differ from conventional (colourless diamonds), which also contain shades of colour in them. However coloured diamonds differ in the sense that one must consider that coloured diamonds are a special variety of this hardened carbon element. 

Importance of “Colour” in Coloured Diamonds

Coloured diamonds, as noted, are diamonds are real. That is to say, they carry the same value that real (colourless) diamonds carry, in terms of their economic value. Whilst one could not be blamed for thinking them to be a cheaper version of real diamonds, given its “fancy” name. However, coloured diamonds are serious business. These precious stones are highly sought after, owing to their colour, allure, and importantly rarity. Since colour in precious stones is often associated with dedicated coloured precious stones: like sapphires, rubies and emeralds and other semi-precious kinds. The tendency to associate diamonds with colour and value may be difficult. However, this “coloured” range of carbon-based precious stones is at the very top.

Diamonds, the non-coloured variety, are measured according to the D-to-Z colour-grading scale. The value of the diamond declines progressively as it moves further away from the D-grade: Which is the lightest, and hence also the most transparent. A different measure of value is used when it comes to fancy diamonds. Since the presence of colour, tone and vividness are the main determinants of value, fancy diamonds command a unique demand in the market for precious stones. Since diamonds, in principle are known to be colourless, the colour in this gemstone is a mark of value, one that differs according to shade, tone and capacity for dispersion. So when one speaks of the various types of diamonds on the market, the difference in terms of how they measure in relation to the 4 Cs becomes a key measure. So one must keep in mind that coloured diamonds, whilst being subjected to the very same standards as conventional colourless diamonds, are valued for their distinct colour character. Which often depends on the type of hue, the vividity of the colour, and how it combines with the other factors that determine a diamond's value: the 4Cs.

The Rarity of Coloured Diamonds

Products that are sought out for their economic value are often characterised by their rarity, in addition to the subjective value that is attached to them by potential buyers. For example, a coloured diamond with a distinct hue may be worth thousands of dollars to a certain buyer or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a certain other buyer. So when seeking quality diamonds, when isolating them for clarity, cut, and carat (3 of the 4Cs of diamonds), the fourth factor: colour, becomes significant. But in different ways, in context coloured diamond. In the world of diamonds, the convention is that the less colour (or tone) that is present in the gemstone the better. Noticeable here are the light brown or yellow tones, which are viewed as undesirable as they are more common in relation to colourless ‘white’ diamonds.

When it comes to fancy or coloured diamonds the prevalence of natural colours, colours that are distinct in their hues (red, pink, yellow, and blue) sets them apart from the rest. The primary reason for their higher market price is that they are so rare. In addition to the usual costs that go into mining, cutting, polishing and bringing them to market. It may interest the reader to note that natural diamonds have been found in every virtually colour in the rainbow. However, gemstones that contain these distinct hues are rare, especially in terms of their ability to match the standards of the 4Cs. According to estimates made by experts in the field, only 1 in many thousands of natural diamonds contains natural colours: such as pink, yellow, blue etc. So getting hold of these coloured diamonds, like the famous Argyle diamond is generally not a straightforward process.

Blue Diamonds

Arguably the most popular fancy diamond variety. Blue diamonds are a type of coloured diamond the reader may have heard of. Natural blue diamonds are like other diamond varieties, in that they are formed from a certain form of carbon atoms. However, this variety of diamonds derives its colour from the presence of boron in its chemical structure, giving it its unique colour. Found only in three places in the world: select mines in South Africa, Australia, and India; blue diamonds are naturally renowned for their rarity.

This type of coloured diamond comes in a variety of shades. Whilst the core colour, blue, remains, its vividness and tone differ according to various levels of intensity: From ‘Fancy light’, ‘Fancy’ to ‘Fancy Intense’. A case can be made that blue diamonds are what gave rise to the range of fancy coloured diamonds. However, their uses are much more than just looking different. As rare gemstones, they are much sought after when it comes to precious jewellery: like engagement rings. Though getting a hold of this type of coloured precious stone, will come with a steep price.

Pink Diamonds

Unique among fancy coloured diamonds, and among the most sought colour in carbon-based gemstones. Gemologists for a long time have been uncertain of the factors that contribute to the colour of this particular gemstone. Whilst the molecular character of pink diamonds is similar to that of other natural diamonds-in that it is carbon based-pink diamonds carry a degree of mystery, as factors that contribute to their colour remain a subject of research for experts in the field. Research in gemology has revealed that pink diamonds differ from the pack, with respect to their underlying atomic character. Since colour in diamonds is a product of impurities and the changes that take place in its development, deep in the Earth over the course of millions of years. In the case of pink and later as we shall see, Argyle diamonds, their colour is a consequence of their distinct molecular structure, where the atomic atoms that make up the gemstone have been aligned in a distinct way in the course of their development. Known by the term, “atomic distortion”, this view is still in the early stages of development, but experts in the field like are the GIA converging on this view. Similar types of structural anomalies in the formation of the diamond have been attributed to other mysterious coloured diamonds like red and purple diamonds.

Grading of Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds, owing to their valued position in the diamond jewellery and gemstone industry are classified according to a set standard. The GIA grades pink diamonds according to the following colour scale, going from light to dark: Faint-Very Light-Light-Fancy Light-Fancy-Fancy Intense-Fancy, Vivid-Fancy Deep/Fancy Dark. The ability to measure the colour grade and related value is a complex process. One which will require expert guidance. Nonetheless, the principle when it comes to fancy coloured diamonds holds here: the deeper the colour, the more valuable the stone.

Argyle Diamonds

Arguably the most expensive diamond variety in the world: it is a special variety in the pink diamond range. When one speaks of novel but beautiful types of diamonds, the Argyle diamond is the standout gemstone. Found only in certain parts of the word, Argyle diamonds, which are found in a variety of shades of pink-to-red coloured gemstones, are mined solely from the world-renown Argyle mines of North-Western Australia. The name of this fancy diamond is derived from the location from which it is mined: the vast, mines of the Kimberley region. A diamond that is often associated with extreme rarity, prestige and value, this variety of precious stones stands apart from ordinary diamonds, and coloured diamonds in more ways than one.

Argyle diamonds differ from other diamond varieties, even at the level of the kind of sources from which they are mined. Diamonds are found in volcanic pipes: and geological structures, deep within the Earth's surface. Argyle diamonds are mined from a rare volcanic mantle known as Lamproite. Unlike the more common Kimberlite: an ingenious rock type from which diamonds are sourced. A state which requires special mining techniques. And when these coloured diamonds are found, the job of gemologists and traders doesn’t get easier.

Argyle diamonds are also known to be notoriously difficult to polish, owing to their complicated physical structure. And given the mystery surrounding the origins of their colour, the process surrounding Argyle diamonds is a mystery itself. Unsurprisingly, getting your hands on such a coloured gemstone is almost impossible these days. They are virtually impossible to find from everyday jewellers. And if you have a fortune to spend, getting to them is also a difficult process. As they are often displayed at select auctions and sold to the highest and most knowledgeable bidder. Argyle diamonds are the epitome of the word fancy. However, if you are interested in a gemstone alternative that matches up to the standard of this gemstone, at least in terms of colour and durability then a quality pink sapphire might be the way for you. 

Less Known Diamond Types

Whilst colourless diamonds are the go-to option when it comes to the making of fine jewellery, or for those who wish to be in possession of diamonds as precious stones. The remainder of the fine jewellery and rare gemstone market for diamonds is dominated by the rare but highly valuable blue diamonds, pink diamonds and, most notably Argle diamonds subcategory. The prevalence of other diamond types, which differ in terms of their colour, has sort of fallen under the radar. Some of these coloured diamond types are better recognized in the industrial world. Here we will look at new types of diamonds that are less well known, but command varying degrees of value in popular use, as jewellery and in industrial settings.

Black Diamonds

What sets black diamonds apart from other diamond types (besides their colour) is their structure. Black diamonds are different, in that they consist of millions of smaller black crystals. Unlike other diamonds, which are formed of a single mineral stone. Known for their wider application in industries, black diamonds are considered to be the hardest variety of this precious stone. Whilst all diamonds score a solid 10 on the Mohs scale. Black diamonds, arguably owing to their physical structure, are more solid. In fact, black diamonds are known to take a terribly long time to cut and shape. Depending on the stone deposit it is found in, black diamond cutting can sometimes take close to a year! As the carbon is slowly separated from the graphite elements.

Despite the lack of use in the consumer space, black diamonds are slowly making their way into the jewellery market. And they are sought out for different reasons. Diamonds are known for their ability to reflect light. The glitter of diamonds is a key aim of those who consider the 4Cs when purchasing this precious stone. However, for black diamonds, the reasons for it are inverse. The ability of black diamonds to absorb light, rather than reflect it, is a unique feature of this coloured diamond; which some buyers are looking into. Hence in an era where people seek to distinguish themselves, this colour is gaining importance.

Champagne Diamonds

Ever opened a bottle of champagne? If not, you’re at least likely to have had a glass of this celebratory drink. The colour that champagne takes as it fills the glass is something that most who have enjoyed this beverage can recollect. Now, what if I tell you that there’s a variety of fancy diamonds that are found in this colour? Well, not exactly the same gold-ish shade, but one that comes very close. First off, the term champagne diamonds are used to describe a variety of coloured diamonds that come in the colour brown. Whilst not the most glamorous tone, a variety of these coloured diamonds are found with a tinge of gold, which gives them that champagne-like colour. For those interested, champagne diamonds fall into a colour range: C1-C7. With C1’s being the lightest, though it is the C2-C3 range that is most sought after. Champagne diamonds are not the rarest of fancy coloured diamonds, though they still command a competitive price, depending on the colour range. These fancy coloured diamonds are found predominantly in South America, parts of Africa and Australia.

Red Diamonds

Red diamonds are arguably the rarest version of red diamonds. Whilst true red diamonds are extremely rare. Only a few dozens have been found to date. The most famous stone is the Moussaieff Red diamond, which weighs a monstrous (for gemstones) 5.11 carats. With most red coloured fancy diamonds, containing a variety of purple. The chemical character of diamonds remains in red diamonds. The colour tone is derived from the presence of nitrogen or boron in the carbon structure of the stone. One must keep in mind there’s a risk of confusing red diamonds, with pink diamonds. Especially the Argyle pink diamond variant. Unsurprisingly, since these are extremely rare, those instances are likely to be few and far between. And if you’re trying to get your hands on these extremely rare precious stones, consulting the opinion of experts is needed. Not to mention a budget to go with it.


So there you have it. A quick round-up of the basics of coloured or fancy diamonds. Diamonds in this category form a key subset of the diamond gemstone industry. Despite containing notable differences with colourless diamonds, the fundamental that determine diamond quality remains. So in addition to the type of colour, it is the combination of the colour, the rarity and strength of the hue, and how it combines with the absence of inclusions, the quality of the cut and the size of the gemstone. There’s a lot more that can be said about each variety of these precious stones. However, what matters is that they are different, whilst still being the same as normal diamonds. The colour, which is natural, is what distinguishes them. Hence the unique demand for these stones. The colour lovers do not necessarily need to seek a high ticket coloured diamond for their jeweller. Coloured stones such as sapphire gemstones have a very wide range of attractive colours to choose from if coloured diamonds are not your thing.