Natural Color Diamond Buying Guide

Natural Color Diamonds"...Gems are the flowers of the mineral kingdom and the fancy colored diamond is the orchid..."  R.J. Haüy
Stand out in a sea of colorless, sparkling diamonds.  Add color.  Natural color diamonds are some of the rarest and most beautiful gems in the world.  Not only are these color diamonds coveted by jewelry collectors and celebrities alike, but they are also renowned for their beauty and unique appearance.  Unlike traditional colorless diamonds, natural fancy color diamonds offer dazzling hues of flirty pink, seductive red, lovely yellow, majestic blue among many other shads, adding new ways to personalize jewelry with romantic, sophisticated and playful designs.
All quotes reprinted with permission from "Collection and Classifying Coloured Diamonds" by Stephen C. Hofer, Ashland Press, New York, NY. Special thanks to Alan Bronstein.
  • What are natural color diamonds?

  • "...the history of our planet gives only a broad outline of the complicated processes that took place in the evolution of minerals and rocks.  So many favorable circumstances must fortuitously concur if gemstones are to be formed that it seems a miracle, or a benevolent disposition, that these complicated chemical and physical prerequisites occurred even once.  That, in fact, deposits can be formed in several regions of the earth seems more than miraculous.  But they remain rare accidents, and the rarity of gemstones is therefore the result of the enormous complexity and incredible coincidence of their formation."  E.J. Gübelin

Origins of color diamonds

Natural fancy color diamonds are formed in the same way as their colorless counterparts.  Intense pressure and heat, deep below the earth's surface working for millions of years lead to crystallization of carbon molecules into these fancy stones.  On rare occasions, other elements or radiations also affect the natural color of diamonds.
The presence of nitrogen usually gives a diamond a yellow or orange hue; boron imparts many shades of blue; and hydrogen produces violet colors.  Tremendous pressures on a diamond can compress its structure causing red, pink, purple or brown stones.  Natural radiation can give them a green hue.
Natural fancy color diamonds are found all over the world, including Australia, Africa, South America and Africa.

Natural versus Treated

Fancy Shape Color DiamondNot all color diamonds are created the way that nature intended. Diamonds can be treated in order to develop colors that mimic the colors of natural stones, though artificial versions are not considered as rare or valuable.
Treated diamonds are not considered to be as good an investment as natural ones.  Also, colors created through treatment can change over time.  That is why it is important to get a certificate from a reputable laboratory (such as the GIA, EGL and IGI) that clearly identifies the origin of the stone and the origin of its color.
Strong Color Faint Color
Color Diamonds
More rare and expensive Less rare and expensive
Many treatments can change the color of a diamond. Among the most common are using HPHT (high pressure, high temperature), CVD (chemical vapor deposition), irradiation, surface coating, and heat treatment.  Each of these methods can be identified by a reputable gem laboratory such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) or the Independent Gemological Institute (IGI).  If a diamond is artificially colored, the lab report will indicate "Treated" and identify the type of detected treatment used to alter its appearance.
  • The Beauty of Color

  • "...All the colors of flowers and foliage and even the blue sky and the glory of the sunset clouds, only last for a short time, and are subject to continual change, but the sheen and coloration of precious stones are the same today as they were thousands of years ago and will be for thousands of years to come.  In a world of change, this permanence has a charm of its own that was early appreciated..."  G.F. Kunz

The Many Colors of Diamonds

"...Colored diamonds...radiating an intangible beauty and dazzling color, these unique gems are perfect symbols of the inexhaustible magnificence of nature."  E.J. Gübelin
Natural color diamonds do not come in just a handful of colors, but a wide variety of colors that span the beautifully prismatic hues of a rainbow.  Over 300 colors have been identified in an infinite number of shades and hues, making a natural color diamond a one-of-a-kind treasure.
The diamonds are generally categorized by a dominant or characteristic color:
Red Pink Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Black Grey White
Red, green, purple and orange diamonds are generally considered to be the rarest, followed by pink and blue.  Yellow and brown varieties are the most widely available.
Unlike colorless diamonds, the value of a natural colored diamond is not as dependant on its clarity.  Instead, it hinges on the richness or saturation of the color.  As a stone's hue deepens, it's value increases.  For example, a pale pink diamond is not as valuable as a bright blushing one.

Secondary Colors

Some natural color diamonds do not contain just one strong and pure hue.  Some diamonds contain a secondary, less dominant color that provides an even more unique depth or shade to the stone.  They are often blended with other colors and muted by shades of gray or brown.  For instance, diamonds are available in unique shades of yellowish-green, grayish-pink, or greenish-orange.
Diamonds with more than one color are not considered to be as rare or valuable as diamonds with pure colors, though they are not any less breathtaking. Selection of a particular type of diamond is a matter of personal preference and budget.  These combinations add more dimension to the available selection of stones.

Grading of Colored Diamonds

"...the grading of colored diamonds depends on the color of the stone as seen in the 'face-up' position...color grading systems can be extremely helpful, particularly when their competition is mere memory and imagination."  C.A Meyer
When laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), or the Independent Gemological Institute (IGI) grade natural colored diamonds, they often use a combination of comparison stones and printed standard color references in order to determine the overall color of the diamond, or its dominant color.  The grader then assigns one of the following color grades to each stone:
  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid
  • Fancy Dark
  • Fancy Deep
The first three grades (faint, very light and light) apply to all colors except yellow.  A yellow stone with one of those grades is still considered a diamond that falls between the D-Z color range.
There are two reports available from reputable laboratories for colored diamonds.  A full certificate provides complete information about a stone regarding its clarity, symmetry and polish.  Origin of color certificates provide color grading without grades for clarity, symmetry, polish, etc.
It might seem confusing, but some jewelers refer to natural color diamonds as "Fancy Color Diamonds."  When they do, they are not implying that the stone has earned a "fancy" color grade from a laboratory.  In other words, if a pink diamond has a "Faint" color grade, it is still called a "Fancy Color Diamond" even though its color is not a "Fancy" grade.

Angara's Standards

In keeping with our mission to provide high quality diamonds, Angara showcases a collection of natural colored diamonds.  Each loose stone includes a certificate from a leading certification authority such as the GIA, EGL or IGI.

Every natural color diamond is carefully inspected, rigorously quality controlled, and must meet a minimum clarity grade of I1 (Angara's minimum clarity grade for colorless diamonds is SI2).  Although Angara does not typically carry diamonds (colored or colorless) weighing less than ¼ carat, smaller sizes of diamonds in extremely rare shades, such as blue or purple, may be available.
  • How to Buy Natural Color Diamonds?

    "...To feel beauty is a better thing than to understand how we came to feel it.  To have imagination and taste, to love the best, to be carried by the contemplation of nature's best, is more, a great deal more, than any science can hope to be..."  G. Santayana
    It's a common misconception that natural color diamonds are prohibitively expensive.  However, you don't have to spend an extraordinary amount to enjoy their beauty and sophistication.
    Purchasing a natural color diamond is much different than shopping for a colorless one.  Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

    Color is more important that clarity

    Select a diamond based on the richness of its color.  Unlike its colorless siblings, clarity plays less of a role in its value.  The more vivid and saturated the color (with ratings such as fancy intense, fancy deep or fancy vivid), the more expensive the diamond will be.Pure-color diamonds are praised for having a vivid single color.  And diamonds containing more than one color are not as expensive-but no less beautiful.  They offer combinations that are truly unique and often striking.  Angara offers a wide selection of both single and multi-color diamonds.

Color is more important than size.

When measuring a natural color diamond's value, the color surpasses the importance of carat weight-particularly in the extremely rare shades of blue and purple.  In other words, a 1 carat yellow diamond might not be as expensive as a half carat blue diamond.  Because size matters to some people, Angara is one of the first online jewelers to offer natural color diamonds in a wide variety of sizes.

Request a report from a reputable certification laboratory.

A diamond's quality can only be verified by a reputable gem laboratory such as the GIA, EGL and IGI.  To protect your investment, always request at least an "Origin of Color" report to verify that the diamond is, in fact, a natural color diamond instead of a treated one.  A "Full Report" can offer more complete details about a stone's clarity, cut, color and more, but because clarity is second to color, it is common for retailers to only offer an "Origin of Color" report instead of a "Full Report".

Choose the perfect setting.

If you have selected a less saturated hue, certain jewelry settings can help enhance the appearance of your diamond's color.  For instance, if you select a fancy light pink diamond, using a rose gold setting can emphasize the stone's blushing look.  An Angara advisor can help you select the setting that best complements a diamond's natural color.
"...like an elusive rainbow that suddenly appears after a storm, a collection of natural fancy color diamonds inspires viewers with an uplifting emotional response..."  Alan Bronstein