Understanding The Color Spectrum in Fancy Color Diamonds

Fancy Color Diamonds: Color

Fancy color diamonds are found in almost every tone, hue and color combination imaginable. No matter whether you are looking for an intensely colored diamond or a brilliant white you will not fully understand diamonds until you understand the 4c’s of diamonds:

  1. Color
  2. Cut
  3. Clarity
  4. Carat weight

These four elements play a role in determining the quality of any diamond no matter what size it is.
One of the things you will want to become familiar with in order to evaluate the quality of a stone is how diamonds are graded.

A couple of important points in understanding grading are:

  • Diamonds are graded on a scale
  • There are significant differences between the grading scales for white and fancy color diamonds.

A simple way to grasp the distinction between the two is to remember that:
White diamond grades are based on a set of criteria developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) that measures the amount of color in a White diamond ranging on a scale from D-Z.

The grading of colored diamonds uses an entirely different set of factors that range beyond the “Z” grade of white.  Criterion such as hue, tone, and saturation in addition to secondary color modifiers, are all indicators of the quality of fancy colored diamonds (FCD).

Grading Fancy Color Diamonds

Fancy color diamonds grading is measured by five main factors:

  1. Hue
  2. Tone
  3. Saturation
  4. Color spread
  5. Color origin (natural and un-natural)


The grading of Fancy color diamond starts with the Hue (the color of the diamond). GIA determined there are 27 basic hues that FCD appear in nature.

Fancy color diamonds come in a variety of hues/colors.


Tone refers to how light or dark the diamond is: Here you can view faint pink diamond on the left and fancy dark pink on the right


Saturation refers to the intensity of the color in a diamond. It varies from very light to vivid. Here you see four diamonds starting from fancy light yellow on the left, fancy, fancy intense and fancy vivid on the right side.

In measuring an FCDs unique color, tone and saturation are equal parts part of the equation: in fact, tone and saturation combined can vary within nine grades of color. These grades are measured on a scale ranging from faint to fancy vivid.

Color Spread

The color spread is simply a description of how evenly color is dispersed inside the stone. In most certified stones, the color spread is even.

Color Origin

The color origin is an important factor and it comes to determine if the diamond’s color is natural and does not come from unnatural source (there are several types of treatments that can change diamonds color). Natural fancy color diamonds are much rarer and more expensive than treated diamonds.

More important facts about fancy color diamonds:

Color modifiers:

The terms color modifier or secondary color refer to diamonds that possess a combination of colors. A few good examples of this are the blue/green Ocean Dream Diamond and the orange-brown Great Chrysanthemum Diamond.

As the grading scale does not exactly measure the percentage of colors per stone, the diamonds dominant color is always mentioned last and other color(s) mentioned first.

Here are a few examples:

Purple Pink: Pink is the main color but purple even though mentioned first holds about 40% of the color

Greenish Yellow means: that the dominant color is yellow and green is a secondary color and the yellow color “catch” about 75% of the color.

Brownish yellowish Orange: Orange is the main color and the brown and yellow colors together hold about 20-40% of the color

Here are three diamonds all with secondary colors from left to right: fancy intense orangey-yellow, fancy vivid purple-pink and fancy deep yellowish-orange

Fancy Color Diamonds Pricing

The price fancy color diamond sells for is determined by a variety of factors including those mentioned above. However, diamonds that fetch the highest dollar values tend to be those that have a few more differentiating characteristics.

Rarity can greatly affect a diamonds price. Rare diamonds such as the Moussaieff Red Diamond is worth approximately $6 million in today’s market.

Weight is another aspect that plays a role in determining whether a diamond will come with a big price tag. Large diamonds, like the 407.48-carat Incomparable Diamond, can fetch huge prices. Even though this diamond has a modifying color and is graded yellow-brown, it sold for a whopping $20 million.

Cut, although to a lesser extent, can influence a colored diamonds selling price. A fancy colored diamond that has been cut to best display its natural beauty can command a higher dollar value. For example, yellow diamonds are often given a pear, cushion and radiant cuts to enhance their color. One instance of a perfect cut to color match can be seen in the 312.24-carat Spirit of de Grisogono a black diamond with a unique Mogul cut.

What Determines a Diamonds Color?

The factors that determine diamonds natural color are as diversified as diamonds themselves. Some diamonds acquire their color from trace elements within the stone or the amount of radiation they were subjected to over millennia. Following are some of the causes that produce FCD.
The color yellow in diamonds is produced by traces of nitrogen in the stone.

Structural irregularities in the crystal lattice are what make Brown, Pink, and Red Diamonds.

  • Blue Diamonds get their amazing color from the chemical element boron.
  • Green Diamonds are formed after being subjected to natural radiation.
  • The hydrogen present in the structure of Grey and Violet Diamonds is what gives them their color.
  • Black Diamonds derive their color from impurities and inclusions spread throughout the stone.
  • The trace element of nitrogen in Orange Diamonds is what gives them their unique color.

Where Do Fancy Color Diamonds Come From?

Fancy color diamonds can be found throughout the world. Africa, Brazil, and Canada are among the largest producers of diamonds. However, it may be Australia, due to the Pink Diamonds produced by the Argyle mine, which is most famous for its diamond production.

This article was contributed by Dan Greenberg.

DiamondColors.com is a new initiative of Eyal Mashiah, owner of Novel Collection, a large fancy color diamond’s manufacturer which is one of the main companies in the diamond industry for the past decades.

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learn everything you need to know before you buy a diamond in this detailed book!

learn everything you need to know before you buy a diamond in this detailed book!