Fancy Colored Diamonds – Worth the Hype?

Most people want to buy white icy diamonds which give away the most amount of sparkle, brilliance and scintillation. Usually people prefer colorless diamonds. The diamonds from the lower color ranges which possess a lightly brown body color have a lower market value. However, diamonds that that exhibit colors like yellow, red, pink, purple or even black are highly rare and in demand. Admittedly, fancy colored diamonds constitute a niche market for people who want to buy a truly special and rare diamond and are okay with not having as much return in fire (light split up in rainbow colors) as white diamonds would offer. Let’s have a look at these fancy colored diamonds!

Fancy Colored Diamonds

How come fancy colored diamonds exist?

Fancy colored diamonds come into being through a variation of trace elements inside the diamond. Abundant elements like nitrogen give a diamond a yellowish colour. Therefore, most diamonds out there have a yellowish or brown color. Rare elements like Boron for instance give a diamond a blue color tone. A further possibility for diamonds to pick up a color is through radiation. Diamonds that were deep within the earth might have received certain doses of radiation. A typical diamond that changed its color through radiation would be any green diamond.

Treated vs untreated fancy colored diamonds

Now, you would think that all fancy colored diamonds out there are natural diamonds that contain some of these elements. This however, is a great misconception and you badly need to differentiate between treated and untreated fancy colored diamonds. Untreated fancy colored diamonds are the natural diamonds that are found in a mine and then cut into a diamond without undergoing any more treatment. Treated diamonds however are usually brown diamonds that are treated in such a way that they change their color.

This is usually achieved through treating the diamond with high temperature and high pressure. This way the crystalline structure of the diamond gets changed and thus reacts to other wavelengths of light. Clearly, treated diamonds are way cheaper because they are made up of cheaper brown diamonds. However, it is quite simple to differentiate between treated and untreated fancy colored diamonds. Treated diamonds have a much higher saturation of color and their color looks much more intense. This “artificial” look is easily recognizable when knowing what to look out for.

Natural vs treated fancy colored diamonds

How are fancy colored diamonds measured?

The first thing you have to know about fancy colored diamonds is that the normal cut grade criteria do not apply to them! A fancy colored diamond is about enjoying its inherent body color and luster and not so much about enjoying its fiery sparkle. The only thing that counts in a fancy colored diamond is its body color. There is hardly any focus on the light performance of a fancy colored diamond because fancy colored diamonds only return small amounts of sparkle anyway.

Therefore, even diamonds that would be considered to have bad cut among white diamonds can still be super high quality fancy colored diamonds if the color is right. The situation is also quite familiar for diamond clarity. As the body color of a fancy colored diamond can camouflage inclusions way better than a white diamond ever could, the stress is much less on the diamond clarity as well.

So, the only important thing that remains is the color. This color is measured in hue, tone and saturation. The hue is basically the body color of the diamond like blue, red etc. There are 27 hues altogether:

27 hues of fancy colored diamonds

The tone on the other hand basically lays out to what degree the hue of a diamond is light or dark. The saturation furthermore defines the intensity of a diamond’s color. If you want to know more details please read my post on GIA’s fancy colored diamond’s grading system here.

Prices of Fancy colored diamonds

Now, comes the tricky part about fancy colored diamonds. For white diamonds the market is pretty transparent and prices are based on the Rapaport price list. If you have a white diamond with certain specifications you can make a pretty sound guess as to how much the diamond will cost. With fancy colored diamonds it is another whole thing, though. Natural fancy colored diamonds are a rarity and there are not many shops online and offline selling them.

Therefore, prices of fancy colored diamonds are determined through the market based on demand and supply. This means however that it is a real art for an individual to guess the market value of any fancy colored diamond. I would therefore always try to buy fancy colored diamonds at a reliable vendor such as James Allen.

How to choose a fancy colored diamond?

How then, are you supposed to reasonably choose a fancy colored diamond? At first you will have to make sure that the diamond you are interested in is a natural fancy colored diamond – that is when you are really interested in buying a natural one. Whereas in normal diamonds I would recommend to go for either GIA or AGS graded diamonds, in terms of fancy colored diamonds it is the best bet to go for GIA graded diamonds. GIA has the strictest procedures with fancy colored diamonds. Thus, when a fancy colored diamond is GIA certified you can be sure that it is a natural diamond. GIA never grades treated diamonds.

Of course if you would rather want to go for a treated fancy colored diamond because the intense color appeals more to you, you don’t need to have a GIA certificate. Apparently the cut and the clarity of a fancy colored diamond are not that important as long as you cannot make out any inclusions with your eyes. Thus, you should simply go for the fancy colored diamond whose color appeals to you most. You will find many diamonds with many different nuances and therefore the choice might not be that easy. But then again, when it comes to fancy colored diamonds the choices are not that exceedingly vast, so that you should not have a too difficult time deciding on the stone.

Where to buy fancy colored diamonds?

The color saturation of fancy colored diamonds can differ within a single stone and for this reason it is particularly important to view the diamond from all angles. James Allen offers magnified 360° high definition videos of all its diamonds so that you can make sure what kind of diamond you are getting:

Viewing fancy colored diamonds from all angles

Another great place specialized in fancy colored diamonds is Leibish & Co. that has a huge variety of fancy colored diamonds to offer:

Leibish fancy colored diamonds


More information on specific fancy colored diamonds

Black diamonds – Very special and rare diamonds with a possibly extraterrestrial origin! Treated black diamond Natural black diamonds are really unique and can only be found in Brazil and in parts of the Central African Republic. Whereas black diamonds do not exhibit any fiery brilliance at all they can have a mysterious and fascinating luster about them that makes them a good fit for anyone brave enough. I will get into the specifics of black diamonds and wipe out common misconceptions.

Brown / Chocolate diamonds – Chocolate and diamonds: What a mindblowing combination! Brown diamond in rose gold ring settingThe so-called chocolate diamonds are simply brown diamonds to which the term “chocolate” has been attached for marketing purposes. Brown diamonds do not belong to the fancy color group but quite apparently they also do not belong into the normal diamond group. Discover here what brown diamonds are all about and how to choose the best brown diamond.


  1. Thanks for all the useful Information.
    So how can I make sure that I am not overpaying on a fancy colored diamond?

    • Hi Julio,
      even for real experts who specialize on fancy colored diamonds it is very difficult to estimate the price of a fancy colored diamond. Unlike white diamonds fancy colored diamonds’ prices are really hard to figure out. The best way to make sure that you are not overpaying on fancy colored diamond is to buy your fancy colored diamond at a reliable and trustworthy vendor. Right now, I think that James Allen is the number 1 in trustworthiness and reliability!

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