White Diamonds vs Fancy Diamonds? The Decision Maker’s Guide
Traditional white or colourless diamonds are valued based on the four Cs – cut, colour, clarity, and carat. When it comes to colourless diamonds, the more colourless the diamond, the greater its value and price. But how does this translate into their coloured counterparts, the fancy diamond? And which should you purchase – colourless or colourful?
Colourless diamonds are classic stones which have been adorned, admired and in vogue for decades. De Beers made colourless diamonds the standard for engagement rings with their “A diamond is forever” campaign. This campaign permeated the minds and hearts of consumers as today 80% of engagement rings contain diamonds.
Truly colourless diamonds are hard to find as diamonds have a natural tinge which may only be visible under a magnifying glass. Diamonds are graded from D to Z based on how clear they are, with D indicating colourless and Z indicating a strong yellow tinge. When a diamond is colourless, has an excellent cut and clarity and has a good carat weight, it is universally recognised as valuable, and often rare.
Diamonds naturally occur in many different colours other than white. Some of the most valuable diamonds to have shattered auction records were colourful. The Pink Star diamond, which received its name due to its vivid color, is currently the most valuable fancy diamond to date. This 59.60 carat, oval mixed cut, internally flawless and IIa graded intensely pink stone sold for $71.2 million in 2017, breaking previous auction records.
Fancy diamonds come in a variety of hues and colours. This includes everything from the more common browns and yellows to the extremely rare reds, greens, blues, and pinks. Due to their rarity, fancy diamonds are often more expensive than white diamonds.
Yellow, black and brown diamonds were traditionally considered the lesser choice compared to the illustrious white diamond. Yellow, brown and black diamonds were recently made not only acceptable but desirable by royalty and celebrities. Yellow diamonds have been rebranded as canary diamonds or “golden”, brown diamonds have been labelled as “champagne” or “cognac” and black diamonds have become synonymous with style and Hollywood glamour.
As mentioned, when buying a diamond, the four Cs determine value but one of the Cs does not hold true for fancy diamonds. With fancy diamonds, colour is replaced by hue and saturation. Geological and chemical factors influence the resulting colour, saturation, and intensity found in a diamond. The greater the saturation, the greater the intensity and richness of colour. Where white diamonds have D to Z levels of colour, fancy diamonds have nine levels of saturation from lightest to most deeply saturated, with the most saturated fetching the highest price. These levels are:
- Very light
- Fancy light
- Fancy dark
- Fancy deep
- Fancy intense
- Fancy vivid
White versus Fancy
The question remains – white or fancy? If fancy then is the best option a rare colour or the more recently adored colours? Fancy diamonds win regarding rarity. They also can demand an exorbitant price. But white diamonds still take center stage in consumers’ hearts with their classic appeal. Fashions may sway the answer in this ongoing debate but at the end, it comes down to budget available and, of course, personal taste. Fashion designer, Rachel Zoe, put it best when she said: “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” A diamond must reflect you, the wearer, and no one else.