Fancy Colored Diamonds – Introduction

By Dirk Rendel

Fancy diamonds are interesting because they seem to flout the rules of diamond buying. For one, they are well below the D-Z color threshold and yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re less expensive than the lower tier diamonds. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Some of the diamonds in this category are among the most expensive ever sold, just look at one of the greatest diamonds of all: The Hope Diamond, a fancy blue.

So wrap your head around that? We had talked earlier about how the more yellow you find in a diamond, the less it is worth. But this is because small bits of color detract from the beauty of the whiteness inherent in a diamond. Now suppose that there was more yellow than white. This is, in some cases, more rare than finding a diamond with absolutely no yellow. And rarity is the foundation of anything of great value.

So how rare are these sparkling beauties? Well, only about one in ten thousand stones manages to qualify for the term “fancy colored diamond.”

And so by all accounts we’re in a different diamond realm here. Even the handling of them is different from colorless diamonds. Where as a clear diamond would be cut to emphasize the brilliance, the sparkle of a typical diamond, a fancy diamond is cut in an effort to maximize the color. As for shape, a fancy diamond won’t necessarily fall under the

Levels of Intensity

Just because these diamonds are fancy doesn’t mean they can flout the rules of diamond grading. These special diamonds have to be measured and compared to one another just like regular diamonds. But whereas “white” diamonds are judged by their lack of color, fancy stones are rated by “vibrancy”.

The lowest end of the spectrum is “Faint” and this category only barely manages to evoke the beauty that a true fancy diamond is capable of. Next comes “Very Light” and then simply “Light.” Each of these grades represent an increase of any given color, a deepening of that shade. Then comes “Fancy Light.” Now we’re in fancy territory.

A grade above Fancy Light is “Fancy”. Followed by this designation would be the color of the diamond in question. So if it was yellow, it would be a Fancy Light Yellow unless it had a deeper yellowing and was therefore a Fancy Yellow. Are you catching on? After Fancy comes “Fancy Intense”, which is about as expensive as it sounds. This is where we start getting into the territory reserved for celebrities, athletes, and other millionaires.

After Fancy Intense comes even more color mania: Fancy Vivid. If you’ve ever seen a Fancy Vivid Yellow, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the insane amount of color intensity inherent in the stone. In a way, it’s almost miraculous that diamonds can be so colorful. If they weren’t rare, of course, there wouldn’t be such a high premium on them. But it is important to remember that these grades aren’t the be-all and end-all of fancy diamonds. In truth, the color shades are so crazy and varied that sometimes even this type of regulation doesn’t quite reveal the intensity or value of any given fancy diamond. Either way, it is still a nice, trusty chart to depend on.

And it is also important to note that Yellow is one of the best fancy colors for orderly grading. Some of the other colors are just too wildly disparate to really rely on these lines of demarcation. Take Fancy Brown diamonds, for instance. Since the different tints of brown border on yellow, orange, and even green, it can sometimes be impossible to say it’s a fancy deep brown when it might be a fancy dark orange, or what have you.


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