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The Irresistible Allure of Natural Color Diamonds

In the world of jewels, nothing compares to the sparkle and allure of a natural diamond or a beautiful colored gemstone. For discerning buyers who appreciate both sparkle and color, natural color diamonds are the perfect addition to any jewelry wardrobe.

Fascination with color is found in ancient history, so it should come as no surprise that we
are still drawn towards colorful jewels today, whether in making a fashion statement or wearing
a treasured jewel. Many famous natural color diamonds have a rich history, such as with the Blue Tavernier that traveled through several incarnations of re-cutting, under different names, over centuries. Today, it is known as the Hope Diamond, the world’s largest deep blue diamond at 42.52-carat, on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The diamond got its name after it surfaced in 1839 in the gem collection catalog of a well-known gem collector, Henry Philip Hope. While many people think of natural color diamonds as those with historic significance, today’s jewelry designers are using them to add pizazz to their jewelry designs. Natural color diamonds are certainly among the rarest gems mined on Earth, with only one found in 10,000 stones. Scott West of LJ West Diamonds based in New York describes his vision of color diamonds:

“In the world of luxury products, natural color diamonds bear comparison to works of art, hidden
treasures, and rare books. They speak the language of exclusivity, desirability, and collectability.”

When color diamonds come to mind, many people think of famous diamonds that sell at auction
for incredibly high prices, however; more retailers are adding natural color diamond jewelry to their bridal and fine jewelry lines. The bridal market is known for demanding the authenticity of a diamond, and in recent years has seen a surge in preference for color diamond engagement rings. Millennials are part of the reason for the increase in natural color diamond sales as they are looking for something different fromtheir parents’ traditional diamond engagement ring. In her latest publication on diamonds, gem and jewelry expert Antoinette Matlins wrote, “Of all
the gems on earth, nothing surpasses the palette ofnatural color diamonds for beauty, distinctiveness, and desirability” (Diamonds Buying Guide, 4th Edition).

Some of the better known natural color diamonds are the yellow and brown stones. Pink diamonds come in pastel shades to deep raspberry colors. Aside from their extraordinary color, pink diamonds gained popularity with celebrities, such as Jennifer Lopez, who received a pink diamond ring from former beau Ben Affleck.

Natural color diamonds are also found in a variety of intensities in orange, green, blue, purple and red. Red is considered the most rare, but famous diamonds can be found in all colors. The NCDIA
website contains information on some of the most famous color diamonds ever found.
Regardless of the main body color, natural color diamonds are known for modified colors and complementary colors. To explain these terms, Thomas Gelb, of Gelb Gemological Consulting advises jewelers that, “A large percentage of diamonds that receive a certificate from a gem lab have more than one word in their color description.” Modifiers might be described on a certificate as bluish gray or grayish blue, while complementary colors might be described as orangey pink or pinkish orange. NCDIA has published information for retailers on how to understand natural color diamond grading.

It’s important for retailers to be able to explain to clients that not all natural color diamonds come in vivid or intense colors. Fancy and fancy light color diamonds, as well as those with modified colors and complementary colors, are just as beautiful as other colored jewels.

The world of Natural Color Diamonds

For fancy-color diamonds, color far surpasses the other “Cs” (clarity, cut, and carat weight) when establishing value. Therefore, it is critical to understand color appearances and how they affect color grades and descriptions. While everyone thinks they understand color, for most it is an intuitive response rather than a true knowledge of the ordering of color appearances.

Color is described using three attributes:

  • Hue (the aspect that permits an object to be classified as red, green, blue, violet, or anything in between)

  • Tone (the relative lightness or darkness)

  • Saturation (the relative strength or weakness)

The color appearance of a gem is the result of a combination of these three attributes. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) system for color grading colored diamonds uses 27 hues, which are indicated on the hue circle chart. Some of these 27 hue names include modifiers, such as purplish pink. (See below)

A modifier in a hue name (such as yellowish green or orangy yellow) does not mean a lack of purity in the color.

For color grading, colored diamonds are placed face- up in a grooved, matte-white, non-fluorescent plastic tray within a controlled environment —a viewing box that eliminates visual distractions and shields external light. GIA also requires a standard geometry between the diamond, the light source, and the observer. The light source is positioned directly above the diamond, and the observer views it approximately perpendicular to the table facet.

The GIA grading terminology uses a combination of fancy grades and color descriptions to identify a colored diamond’s characteristic color. A fancy grade represents the combined effect of tone and saturation on the color of a diamond. These grades correspond to regions of tone and saturation in color space and vary by hue, since different colors reach their highest saturation at different levels. The color descriptions accompanying a fancy grade are determined by the hue, and by the tone and saturation of the hue. In each instance, the fancy grades and color descriptions represent a range of color appearances.

The Blue Moon Diamond sold for a record of $48.26 million

The “Blue Moon” diamond has been sold for a record $48.26 million (48.6 CHF) in Geneva, according to auction house Sotheby’s. The sale price is a record for any gemstone and also per carat, a spokesman said. Sotheby’s describes it as a 12.03-carat fancy vivid blue internally flawless diamond.

It has now been announced that the buyer of the blue diamond, as well as the 16.08 ct cushion-cut Fancy Vivid pink diamond that sold for $28.55m at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction earlier this week, is Hong-Kong based billionaire fugitive Joseph Lau Luen-hung. Lau is listed by Forbes as the sixth richest man in Hong Kong and 114th wealthiest globally, with estimated assets worth US$9.8 billion as of November.

The “Sweet Josephine” diamond sold for &28.55m at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction.

The Blue Moon Diamond - Image courtesy of Sotheby's

The Blue Moon Diamond - Image courtesy of Sotheby's

The “Blue Moon” diamond has been sold for a record 48.26 million in Geneva – The Fancy Vivid Blue Internally Flawless Diamond is truly a wonder of the world.

“It is a new record price for any gemstone and per carat,” David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division, told a packed showroom in Geneva that erupted into applause.

The Hong Kong buyer promptly renamed both stones after his 7 year old daughter, “The Blue Moon of Josephine”, Bennett told reporters, noting that it had also set a world record for any jewel at more than $4 million per carat.

At rival Christie’s on Tuesday, a large diamond of a rare pink hue fetched 28.725 million Swiss francs ($28.55 million).

Christie’s said that the stone, named “The Sweet Josephine” by the Hong Kong-based Chinese client who bought it, set a world record for any pink diamond ever offered at auction.

Information courtesy of (Sotheby’s, Christies, Reuters)