Does Color Make Diamonds Less Valuable?

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fancy color diamonds
Colored Diamonds

It’s a great, debatable question.  Are colored diamonds less valuable?  Is it just a matter of preference?

Perhaps the most popular Valentine’s Day jewelry marketing strategy this year was the marketing of brown diamonds as something along the lines of the “new chocolate”…chocolate diamonds, that is.  It’s a pretty brilliant (pun intended) marketing strategy that is a great catalyst for discussion.

When we think about the most valuable diamonds in jewelry, we tend to think about the clear “white” diamonds with that unique sparkle, as they are the most prized diamonds for jewelry…yet fancy colored diamonds such as the famous Hope Diamond are among the most highly sought-after diamonds in the world.  In this post, you’ll find the info you need to make your diamond decision. Let’s have some fun…

First, here’s the nuts and bolts (and prongs)…

About Colored Diamonds

The Gemological Institute of America uses a color grading system that is actually a system to grade the degree of colorlessness.  The grading system goes from “D” (colorless) down to “Z” (light color). Interestingly, this grading system is for diamonds that exhibit hints of yellow or brown, but only slight color…nothing deep.  Diamonds that are deep yellow, brown or other colors such as blue, pink or the rarest color, red, are referred to as fancy-color diamonds.

As a general rule, the “D” diamonds on the GIA color grading scale are the diamonds that are the most valuable, while the “Z” diamonds (while still valuable) will sell for much less due to more visible color.  Bear in mind that the untrained eye will see little to no difference between some of these diamond grades, which makes it that much more important that you know and trust the jeweler you’re buying diamond jewelry from.  So as far as this diamond grading system is concerned, color definitely decreases the value of the stone.

Fancy-color diamonds are a different story in that there are no real hard-fast rules.

For instance, the chocolate diamonds you see advertised during the Valentine’s Day season would fit into the fancy-color category and have come a long way in terms of popularity and value.  Prior to 1986, most brown diamonds were not even considered for grading on the diamond color scale. In fact, they were considered worthless and used only for industrial purposes. In the late 80’s, marketing strategies using terms such as champagne, amber and cognac began the brown diamond’s dramatic rise in popularity, which brings us to the chocolate diamonds of today.

While they are rising in popularity and have become more valuable, brown diamonds and yellow (canary) diamonds are considered the least valuable of the fancy-color varieties due to the fact that they are far more common than the more rare fancy-color stones.  They are not as valuable as prized colorless variety…which brings us to our next diamond caveat.

Colorless diamonds are actually more common than the pink, blue, green or red varieties.  However, the value grading for fancy-color diamonds is actually the opposite of the D-Z grading system.  With these diamonds, color saturation determines value…the more vivid the color, the higher the value, except the aforementioned yellow and brown.  For instance, pink diamonds with a strong pink color are more valuable than those that only show a pale pink hue. The reason for this is that they are more rare.  The same goes for blue, green and red.

What should you conclude from all of this?  The GIA sums up diamond value by the 4 C’s. When it comes to color alone, the GIA sums up diamond value based on rarity.  Brown diamonds are the most common variety, followed by yellow. Hence, the less brown/yellow and the closer to pure clear the stone is, the higher the value.  Conversely, the deeper the pink, blue, green or red hue is, the more valuable the stone is.

If you have questions about diamonds or other gemstones and jewelry, we are your go-to!  Stop by, call us or send us your question today.