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Fancy diamonds more popular than ever
By Heather Warlick
| Published: November 6, 2012
White diamonds are beautiful but these days, more women than ever are finding joy in diamonds in fiery shades of yellow, orange, pink, red and even deep, mysterious black.
They’re called fancy diamonds and they’ve been adorning celebrities for years, and these coveted jewels are becoming more accessible and popular for all women.
“I think that more and more people are aware that diamonds come in different colors, and it seems to fascinate a lot of people,” said Coleman Clark, president of BC Clark jewelers.
Yellow diamonds are a favorite choice right now for right-hand rings, pendants and bracelets, Clark said. They've been en vogue for several years, but now the canary color diamonds are at their height of popularity.
“It's such a great time to be in fashion in America,” said Daniel Gordon, president of Samuel Gordon Jewelers. Before the computer age, fashion and jewelry trends took time to make their way from the coasts to mid-America. Today, he said, trends that are hot on the coasts don't lag so much making their way throughout the country.
Such is the case with colorful or “fancy” diamonds, Gordon said. Celebrities and the rich and famous have brought fancy diamonds into the limelight, and women everywhere have embraced them.
One special yellow diamond necklace previously owned by the Duchess of Windsor is among a treasure trove of jewels from the collection of Estee and Evelyn Lauder set to be auctioned at Sotheby's on Dec. 5. The proceeds from this auction will benefit breast cancer research.
Yellow is not the only color in fancy diamonds, and while high-quality fancy yellow diamonds are rare, they are not as rare as some other colors. Only about one in 100,000 diamonds can be classified as a high-quality fancy diamond, and among those, pink and especially red diamonds are by far the rarest.
“There are only a handful of red diamonds in the world,” Gordon said. Other colors of fancy diamonds are brown, green, orange, blue and black.
Making the grade
Unlike white diamonds which are graded highest for their cut, color, clarity and carat weight, colored diamonds are graded for their hue, tone and saturation.
One common point of confusion when consumers are shopping for yellow diamonds is the distinction between true fancy diamonds and white diamonds that have low grades for color, Clark said. The most colorless white diamonds are graded D and work their way down the alphabet as their nitrogen levels rise adding more yellow and brown to the diamonds. As the grade gets closer to Z, the diamond's value shrinks.
On the other side of Z, however, is when diamonds become fancy. The Gemological Institute of America rates these diamonds as faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy dark, fancy intense, fancy deep and fancy vivid.
About the colors
Colored diamonds get their hues from various causes. Yellow diamonds have higher concentrations of nitrogen than white diamonds. Green diamonds get their shade from natural radiation. Blue diamonds contain traces of boron. The dark grayish-blue 45.52 carat Hope Diamond is one of the world's most famous, sought-after and costly diamonds.
Red and pink diamonds get their shades from defects in the crystal formation. Mariah Carey's engagement ring from Nick Cannon is a 17-carat square emerald-cut pink diamond, surrounded by 58 intense pink diamonds and two half-moon diamonds on each side. Estimated cost: $2.5 million.
Oklahoma women opting for colorful engagement rings are gravitating more toward blue sapphires, Gordon said, after Prince William gave Catherine, now Duchess of Cambridge, the sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.
Black diamonds, which once were mainly used for industrial purposes, now are being used by jewelry designers to create stunning jewels. Another unusual diamond material is found in raw diamonds that are sliced and used in jewelry. These diamonds often have a brown hue. The thin slice allows a diamond to cover more surface area and look larger than its true size.