Diamonds – How to Buy – Part 3

On part 2 we’ve discussed the features of diamonds and determing a budget.

To read part 1 click here

To read part 2 click here


How is the Value set for a Fancy Color Diamond?


While the 4 C’s are indicating the value of white diamonds, the Cut and the Clarity are less important, in terms of worth when evaluating Fancy color diamonds. Three factors: the rarity of the color, the intensity of the color, and the weight of the diamond are the core attributes when the value of a fancy color diamond is set


The rarer the diamond color in nature the more valuable it becomes on the market. Red is the rarest colored diamond in nature followed by blue. Red diamonds are so rare that very few stones have thus far, been certified as red diamonds. High intensity pink diamonds are very rare as well and most pink diamonds on the market are only faintly or lightly colored. Green and purple diamonds, where green and purple are the primary colors, are extremely rare and command astronomical prices.

These diamonds usually have some other modifier, such as brown, pink and yellow in addition to the primary color. Orange diamonds are not as rare as red diamonds and are usually characterized by strong yellow or brown modifiers, but are very rare when appear as a solid color. Yellow diamonds are more “common” than the other colors, but high intensity yellows are rarer and more expensive. Brown diamonds are widely available and are popular since they are within reach for most shoppers.



Unlike white diamonds, a Fancy Colored Diamond’s value increases in relation to the presence of strong colors. So, a high intensity yellow diamond would be more valuable than a pale yellow diamond. If a diamond has a light color modifier it will have a –ish suffix and when the modifier appears in a more intense manner it will show before the main color. Thus, a pink diamond with a light purple secondary color becomes “purplish pink” and when second color is present almost in equal amounts as the primary color, they are both named and will be named “purple pink”.

The intensity of color emanating from the fancy color diamond affects the cost and value significantly. Fancy color diamonds are graded in terms of increasing intensity. GIA developed an intensity grading scale in order to categorize the intensity levels in the fancy color diamond. The nine grades in the scale are:

  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid
  • Fancy Deep
  • Fancy Dark



The weight of the diamond will heighten or reduce the value of the diamond significantly. These factors also play an important role with fancy colored diamonds. A colored diamond that is 1.00 carat can be worth (depends on the color rarity) much more than a 1.00 carat white diamond with top color, clarity and cut.


Color, Cut, Clarity or Carat? Which is the most important when buying Fancy Color Diamonds?

The answer to this question is based on personal choice to a great extent. As a consumer we may buy a fancy color diamond for personal, social, romantic or investment reasons. Much will depend on the personal preference of the individual, as well as traditional background and community-oriented concerns. Individuals and investors may overlook the size and clarity of the fancy color diamond in favor of the color. Others may overlook color just for the sake of the size and carat with a “bigger is better” sort of frame of reference.

Many purchase choices also are made by an assessment of clarity with “the naked eye” yet color will be the most significant factor in buying a fancy color diamond. Other individuals and investors hold cut as the major factor in making a choice. As a preference, a good cut of a fancy color diamond, brings out the color in a more concentrated manner. A highly sought after preference for many consumers is buying a fancy color diamond with a good cut and a good color, yet with lower clarity grade. Yet, in reality, the personal style and preferences of the buyer will be the ultimate guiding factor among the 4 C’s in purchasing a fancy color diamond.


Fancy Colored Diamond Shapes


The shape that the Fancy Colored Diamond is formed into is a very important consideration when making your purchase. Fancy shapes tend to be the best shapes for Fancy Colored Diamonds. These shapes are the best for drawing out the maximum natural color of the diamonds. Round shapes are typically not used as well as princess, and emerald cuts since they do not enhance diamond color as well.

Most Fancy Colored Diamonds are formed into radiant, cushion, pear, and oval shapes with oval and pear being preferred for the concentration of color and are, thus, the more expensive shapes. Cushion and radiant shapes are more commonly used and they highly enhance the color of fancy color diamonds. The facet arrangement of these shapes also helps conceal most imperfections in fancy colored diamonds.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cut and shape are closely related but refer to different features. The cut of a diamond refers to the manner in which the stone is cut by the diamond cutter to maximize the amount of light and color that is reflected as well as the finish and the dimensions of the stone. The cut deals with the inner qualities of the diamond. The shape refers to the overall outside shape of the diamond when viewed from the top and is a component of the outer qualities of the gemstone.

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: While the round shape is most common in colorless diamonds and are atypical of fancy color diamonds because a round cut aims to produce more brilliance than color. In kind, princess and emerald cuts are uncommon in fancy color diamonds because these shapes do not emphasize the intensity of the gem effectively.

Radiant, Cushion, Pear and Oval shapes are the most common and sought after fancy color diamonds, since they are emphasizing the color in the best manner. Oval and Pear shapes concentrate the most color.

The most common fancy color diamond shapes:


The signatures of the radiant shaped fancy color diamond are trimmed corners making this cut a versatile and popular choice for jewelry. Their degree of rectangularity can be varied to bring out the most color. When shaping a fancy color diamond into a radiant shape it isn’t cut the same as white diamonds, but more deeply in order to emphasize the color. Also known as a cut-corned, rectangular or square modified “brilliant” (per GIA grading reports}, this shape and cut was developed in the 70s to emulate the brilliancy of the round cut to a rectangular diamond. Actually the radiant cut combines emerald and brilliant cut facets on the crown and pavilion (top and bottom) respectively. Thus it combines the brilliancy of the ideal cut and the added advantage of the emerald cut which highlight and illuminate the color of the gem. The radiant is much more brilliant and more dazzling than the traditional emerald cut.



Also known as “pillow-cut” shaped fancy color diamonds, this unique shape has been popular for almost 200 years. For more than 70 years, from 1830-1900 –this is how many diamonds were cut. Cushion cut has large facets and rounded corners to increase their brilliance and highlight the diamond’s clarity. Available in shapes ranging from rectangular to square, the cushion cut has an open culet (bottom of the diamond), rounded corners, and a facet plan to give depth to the diamond. The depth of the fancy color diamond cushion cut is the beauty of this shape and facets which allow the eye to travel deep into the diamond. The cushion cut conjures up romance and candlelight dinners and is much more soothing, calmer and aesthetically pleasing that a modern cut. Like the radiant cut in regards to fancy color diamonds, the diamonds are usually deeper than white diamonds in order to enhance the fancy color.


Also called a teardrop for its single point and rounded end, this brilliant-cut diamond, which has the unique look of a pear shape, is a popular choice for fancy color diamond cuts due to the shape ability to emphasize the color. If one chooses a longer pear shape, the length of the diamond creates a subtle slimming effect on the fingers of those who wear the shape. Usually having the 58 facet brilliant patter, the pear shape can be cut with differing numbers of the pavilion main facets of 8, 7, 6, or 4. The cut is a cross between brilliant and marquise, making a beautiful teardrop shaped pear fancy color diamond due to its nature to highly emphasize the color. When planning on a purchase of the pear cut, look for a well-designed and shaped head and well-defined shoulders.


The oval shape has some of the qualities as the cushion cut and in regards to fancy color diamonds, also tends to emphasize color. Oval shaped diamonds possess beautiful brilliance similar to a round cut, yet provide a larger surface area than a round with the same carat weight. The Oval shape is very popular, accentuating long elegant fingers, and being based on the brilliant cut usually has the standard 58 facet brilliant pattern. Yet the cut, having an elliptical shape, can have a varying number of pavilion main facets of 4, 6, or 8. When considering purchasing an oval fancy color diamond, look for a full bodied gem with even and well-rounded ends.

*Side note to Investors and Connoisseurs

Very few fancy color diamonds are created in a round brilliant cut or shape. Yet those rare fancy color diamonds that are created in the round shape are most likely to be of a Vivid, Deep, & Dark color intensity grade. Faint color diamonds tend to lose much color in a round brilliant cut. Vivid, Deep, & Dark color intensities emanates enough color, not too lose color, in the process of creating the gem in a round brilliant shape. Due to their rarity, and the fact they contain much color visually, this type of fancy color diamonds are usually the most expensive.


Diamond Certificate

The diamond certificate is also known as a “diamond grading report” or “diamond quality document.” This certificate is the touchstone of assessment and complete evaluation of the fancy color diamond by a team of specialized and credentialed gemologists skilled in the use of gemological instruments.

Diamond certificates are the primary means and evidence of establishing the value and authenticity of the fancy color diamond. Containing all the information regarding the individual characteristics of the diamond, the certificate includes the precise measurements, cut, clarity, color, carat, finish, quality, and even the defects, blemishes and inclusions of the gem. While there are various independent diamond labs which provide certification, the most well-known, established, and possessing the greatest credibility and expert testimony in certification by a gemological lab is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).


Why Purchase Certified Diamonds?

It is highly recommended to purchase a certified fancy color diamond. A certified diamond contains the information concerning the exactness of the diamond in relation to the description with the seller, thus giving the consumer added confidence and the ability for examination, assessment and evaluation. Since the certificate is the only assurance of the worth and authentication of the diamond, it should be examined closely before the purchase of the fancy color diamond. In addition, the certificate is a required document for insurance since it contains an accurate description and evaluation of the stone, as well as the assurance of worth of the diamond itself.


The Hazards and Perils of Purchasing Uncertified Diamonds

There are few vendors that sell fake diamonds, or sell them with different quality assessment. Here are some common diamond scams that the industry has encountered. Here are 6 good reasons to have proper certification and some reasons to be cautious in your purchase:

  • Selling poor quality diamonds by settings which conceal defects in close mountings
  • Selling synthetic fancy color diamonds as natural
  • Alterations of the Diamond’s actual information regarding Color, Cut, Clarity, & Carat
  • Artificial enhancements of color of the diamond and selling them as (naturally) colored
  • Radiation and Heat treatments which vary the quality of the diamond
  • Switching the diamond which is described in the certification


These are only a few of the of diamond scams on the market. Yet being out there attest to the necessity of purchasing certified diamonds. If your diamond is not certified there is a possibility that it is of lower value. Certification is, to a large extent, a guarantee that you are purchasing the best possible fancy color diamond at the best price given the evaluation that only proper certification can bring.


Some Final Observations/Tips on Fancy Color Diamond Certification

Be leery and cautious of online or retail store which offers only in-house (their own) certification. One can clearly see such a store action as self-serving and aimed at maximizing profits, while the quality of the fancy color diamond will be questionable. This would be similar to attending an online college which creates its own accreditation council.


Keep in mind that properly speaking and referenced:

A certification is entirely different from an appraisal

A diamond certificate does not put any monetary value on the fancy color diamond but provides a description of the characteristics and features of the gem.

An appraisal estimates a current market value of the fancy color diamond, yet does not provide any details of the stone which are adequately covered in the certification.