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The Fancy Coloured Diamond: How Much Do You Know About It?


  1. LONITÉ™ Memorial Diamonds: Various Colors to Choose from

  2. How Are LONITÉ™ Colored Memorial Diamonds Made?

  3. The Meanings of Various Color Memorial Diamonds

Just like colourless diamonds, fancy coloured diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle under conditions of extreme heat and pressure and then delivered to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions. The difference is that if foreign particles are trapped during the process of diamond crystallization, the chemical process of formation is altered and the result is a fancy coloured diamond. Each fancy colour is caused by a different structural irregularity like presence of nitrogen for the yellow coloured diamond, presence of boron for the blue coloured diamond or a significant number of impurities for the black coloured diamond.

What are Natural Coloured Diamonds or Fancy Coloured Diamonds?

Diamonds in the normal colour range rank between colourless and light yellow and are described using the industry’s D to Z colour-grading scale unlike fancy coloured diamonds which exhibit colours beyond the Z range. These rare natural coloured diamonds occur in all colours of the rainbow from red, pink, orange, blue, green, violet, yellow, brown, gray or black. According to GIA only one in 10,000 diamonds has a fancy colour or is a natural coloured diamond.

Black, brown and yellow fancy coloured diamonds occur more frequently than green or blue fancy coloured diamonds. Reportedly, only 2 to 4 major blue natural coloured diamonds are released to the market annually, and only 50 fancy vivid blue natural coloured diamonds have been sold at auctions since 1999. The 45.52 carat fancy deep grayish blue Hope Diamond is the world’s most famous gem displayed in the National Natural History Museum in Washington D.C.

In comparison, red natural coloured diamonds are the rarest of all the fancy coloured diamonds and occur in one single colour intensity; even experienced jewellers never see pure or fancy vivid red diamonds in their lifetime. Notably, only around 20 to 30 true red natural coloured diamonds are known to exist in the world, most of these less than half a carat in size but still valued as the most expensive diamonds in coloured diamond price per carat.

How rare are pink natural coloured diamonds?

While up to 12-14 million carats of diamonds are mined, polished and sold annually, only 0.01% of them are fancy coloured diamonds. Out of the 0.01%, approximately 80% are yellow and brown fancy coloured diamonds while the remaining 20% consists of black and grey natural coloured diamonds.

Argyle Diamond mine which is responsible for up to 90% of the world’s supply of pink natural coloured diamonds is set for closure in 2020 due to its low proportion of gem-quality diamonds. This is projected to largely impact the number of pink fancy coloured diamonds marketed annually even further, considering that the figure stands at 0.0001% currently.

Fancy light pink coloured diamonds which cost $10,000 per carat over 38 years ago are now estimated at an astronomical coloured diamond price of $220,000 per carat; 22 times their value in 1979. In April 2017, the Pink Star natural coloured diamond of 59.60 carats became the most expensive gem ever auctioned.

Due to the high demand and low supply of fancy coloured diamonds, new technology is being used to create the pink tint in colourless diamonds during the high pressure and high temperature (HPHT) process. Pink natural coloured diamonds are coveted for use in coloured diamond necklaces, coloured diamond rings, and other pieces of jewellery.

The Heart of Eternity is one of the ten most valuable blue diamonds ever sold.
The Heart of Eternity is one of the ten most valuable blue diamonds ever sold.

Fancy Coloured Diamond History

  1. The Cullinan Diamond, also known as the Star of Africa has an estimated coloured diamond price of $2 billion. This white diamond weighed 621.35 grams before it was split into nine large diamonds and several smaller ones. The stone was discovered by Captain Fredrick Wells in 1905 and was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of Premier Diamond Mining Co. where it was found.

  2. The Heart of Eternity Diamond is one of the ten most valuable blue diamonds ever sold and was discovered in the South African Premier Diamond Mine. This heart shaped fancy vivid blue diamond has a coloured diamond price of $16,000,000. The diamond weighs 5.528 grams and 27.64 carats.

  3. The Kohinoor Diamond, also known as the Mountain of Light, the Diamond of Babur has a coloured diamond price of $1 billion. This white diamond of 105.6 carats weighs 21.6 grams and is believed to have been mined from either the mines of Golkonda or Kollur Mine in India in the 1300s. The diamond originally weighed 793 carats before England’s Consort Prince Albert had it cut to its present size so as to increase its brilliance. This diamond is believed to possess magical powers originating from Surya, the sun god or the Indian god Krishna. The Kohinoor diamond currently resides in the Tower of London, where it is on public display along with other famous stones.

  4. The Centenary Diamond was discovered in the Premier Mine in 1986 and weighed 599 carats uncut. The colourless diamond was later cut into a modified heart-shape and has a coloured diamond price of $100 million. It was christened Centenary Diamond by Julian Ogilvie Thompson from the Centennial Celebration of De Beer Consolidated Mines.

  5. The Krupp Diamond. The colourless diamond is a classic piece with a fascinating history and a coloured diamond price of $9,250,000. The Asscher cut diamond was owned by Elizabeth Taylor and is said to have been one of her favorite pieces as can be seen in many of her photos. Elizabeth Taylor passed on in 2011 and the 33.19 carat diamond was subsequently auctioned and sold to the South Korean conglomerate E-Land for a whopping $8,818,500 disrupting the industry price for a carat of colourless diamond.

Development of Natural Coloured Diamond Cuts

A diamond cut is a style or design guide used when shaping a diamond for polishing. The cut of a diamond greatly affects its brilliance, thus making it more luminous.

A diamond cut helps in utilizing a gemstone’s material properties and is made up of symmetrically arranged facets which all together help in modifying the shape and appearance of a diamond crystal. Diamond cutters today thrive on new technology such as laser cutting and computer-aided design to craft gems whose complexity and optical performance made them impossible to develop previously. The most popular natural coloured diamond cuts include; the modern round brilliant, whose facet arrangements and proportions have been perfected by both mathematical & empirical analysis and the fancy cuts, which come in a variety of shapes and are derived from the round brilliant. Princess, Asscher, Cushion, Heart, Pear and Emerald are some of the renowned fancy cuts.

The most known sources of fancy diamonds include; India, DRC, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Central Africa, Angola, South Africa, and Australia. Other diamond mine locations include Venezuela, Guyana, and Indonesia.

Cremation Processes and Arrangements

There are no fixed rules on how to get cremated. Instead, funeral and cremation arrangements vary based on tradition, culture and religion. Sometimes choices are determined by the services and options available at funeral homes, but funeral directors and crematoriums typically work together to meet the funeral and cremation requirements of the deceased and the family.

The cremation process can be structured so that a ceremony takes place either before or after the actual cremation of the body. Cremation ashes are sometimes displayed in an urn at a ceremony day after the cremation process has been completed. This makes it impossible to say definitively how long a cremation service takes.

A requiem mass or other religious ceremony can be conducted either on the actual day of cremation or before as part of the cremation process. Of course, a medical certificate must always be secured from the coroner or the doctor stating the cause of death in order to authorize the cremation of a body. Once this has been obtained, the physical cremation process can begin.

If there is to be a formal religious ceremony such as a mass before the actual cremation, funeral directors will often provide a casket to hold the deceased. This casket is not cremated with the body, so that the funeral and cremation can be considered as two separate parts of the cremation process. Not cremating the casket also preserves the cremation ashes. This is how you can make diamonds out of cremation ashes.

How is a Natural Coloured Diamond Created?

Diamonds are formed out of carbon atoms, transformed by high pressure (70 ton/cm²) and high temperatures of around 1300° to 2000° C into a crystalline structure. The transformation of carbon into crystal diamonds occurs in the earth’s mantle, 150 km from the surface of the earth as a result of geological processes that occurred about 550 million to 4 billion years ago.

Despite being composed of the same element, being acted upon by the same physical processes, and having formed in the same time span and geological region, there is one small but key difference between the creation of colourless and natural coloured diamonds. This involves a chemical interaction with foreign particles that integrate into the diamond’s carbon structure during the crystallization process. This chemical process includes interactions with other elements such as boron and nitrogen, as a result of uncommonly high temperatures/pressures.

  1. Brown, Red & Pink Coloured Diamonds: These natural coloured diamonds are formed by a combination of intense pressure and heat which distort the crystal lattice that absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink/brown/red hue.

  2. Blue Coloured Diamonds: These gems get their colour from boron which bonds with carbon in the crystal structure thus absorbing the red, yellow and green areas of the colour spectrum.

  3. Green Coloured Diamonds: Just as they are about to leave the uppermost layer of the crust, these fancy coloured diamonds absorb naturally occurring radiation which causes them to reflect a green hue by absorbing red and yellow light.

  4. Violet and Purple Coloured Diamonds: So far, crystal distortion is the speculated cause of these natural coloured diamonds. However, it is believed that the presence of hydrogen is partly responsible for their hue.

  5. Orange and Yellow Coloured Diamonds: The remarkable hue of yellow and orange diamonds can be attributed to one element; nitrogen. While a diamond is forming, nitrogen atoms arrange in such a way that blue light is absorbed, thus producing a yellow colour. A specific grouping of nitrogen atoms is also responsible for the shading of orange fancy coloured diamonds.

  6. Black Coloured Diamonds: These opaque gems are caused by inclusions of graphite within the diamond crystal.

  7. Gray Coloured Diamonds: This fancy coloured diamond is coloured by hydrogen, and more rarely boron (unknown how, since boron nearly always forms blue). The defect causes the stone to absorb all wavelengths of light equally. Gray colour can tint nearly every other shade, for example Gray-greens, also known as "Olive" and the famous Gray- blues, sometimes tinged with purple that are produced by the Argyle mine.

How much do Coloured Diamonds Cost?

The pricing of natural coloured diamonds is different from that of colourless diamonds. For natural coloured diamonds, the aspect of colour far outweighs the other “C’s” (clarity, cut, and carat weight) in the determination of value. The most basic pricing principle in natural diamond trade, whether fancy coloured or colourless, states that “the rarer the diamond, the higher its value.” Each diamond has its own unique features and its price is therefore determined according to regularity or rarity.

On average, natural coloured diamond prices have risen by 122% in the last ten years. A case in point, spring 2016, a Geneva-based fund manager purchased a highly rare vivid orange gem at a coloured diamond price of $1 million per carat and in May 2016, a 14.62-carat blue gem sold for the coloured diamond price of $57.5 million at another Geneva auction, making it the most expensive diamond in the world to ever be purchased in an auction.

Although the coloured diamonds below are rarer than white diamonds, their coloured diamond price is typically less than white diamonds of a comparable quality and carat due to generally lower levels of demand for them.

The mid-range priced level of coloured diamonds includes stones with lower saturations due to the presence of secondary colours.

The rarest fancy coloured diamonds are significantly more expensive than white diamonds, with a value that rises exponentially the higher the carat and colour intensity. For example a 7.37 carat fancy intense purplish pink diamond was sold at a coloured diamond price of $819,201 per carat, a vivid green diamond at a coloured diamond price of $1.22 million per carat and the 12.03-carat blue Moon diamond at a coloured diamond price of $50 million, making it the only diamond to ever sell for more than $4 million per carat.

What Factors Influence the Natural Coloured Diamond Price?

  1. Origin. The coloured diamond price depends on whether the gem is natural or lab created. Natural coloured diamonds are significantly more valuable than their artificial coloured counterparts that are created in a laboratory, but an untrained eye without proper equipment can’t distinguish between the two. Advanced gemological institutes, led by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) have the appropriate means and experts who can identify and categorize the natural coloured diamond's characteristics, primarily its origin.

  2. Colour: To determine coloured diamond price according to colour, experts take into account the diamond's hue, saturation, and tone. The vivid, deep, and powerful colours such as fancy intense and fancy deep are rarer and more valuable and therefore priced higher than the brighter natural coloured ones. A natural coloured diamond’s value decreases when there is a secondary colour, but if the secondary colour is rare, the coloured diamond prices go higher. Sometimes colour differences are so subtle that they cannot be traced by the human eye.

  3. Carat. This refers specifically to the diamond’s weight. A 1-carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams meaning that a 5-carat diamond weighs only 1 gram. Heavier coloured diamonds are considered rare and therefore, their coloured diamond price per carat will increase significantly. As such, 1-carat natural coloured diamonds are 2 to 4 times more expensive compared to half-carat diamonds; all other factors held constant.

  4. Clarity. This term indicates the quality of the diamond’s reflection and shine, as well as the amount of internal or external defects that affect how clear the diamond is. Clarity is measured on a scale that ranges from flawless to internally flawless and other values as well since some flaws are not visible to the naked eye. Important to note is that coloured diamond rings and coloured diamond necklaces do not make use of flawless and internally flawless stones as these are mainly used for investment purposes.

  5. Cut. Cutting is done by the polisher to highlight the diamond’s rarest and most valued qualities. For example; is the shape of the natural coloured diamond symmetrical? Does it accentuate and deepen its colour? Does it look bigger than its actual weight? Is the polish shiny and the coloured diamond sparkling and dazzling? A properly cut diamond has a 30% higher value than a poorly cut diamond. Some natural coloured diamonds can have good quality but poor cut.

The Moussaieff is the most famous red diamond in existence
The Moussaieff is the most famous red diamond in existence

What is the Most Expensive Diamond Colour?

Red fancy coloured diamonds are the rarest and most expensive of all the natural coloured diamonds. They only come in a single intensity which is fancy. When red diamonds appear with a purple modifying colour (the most commonly found secondary hue in red diamonds), coloured diamond prices vary dramatically based on the percentage saturation of red in the stone. However the coloured diamond price of a 0.20ct purplish red is about $300,000 per carat and about $500,000 for a 0.40ct. The red colour in diamonds is so rare that even if it appears in a diamond at an extremely low saturation as a modifying secondary colour, the coloured diamond price will rise exponentially. Thus, while a brown natural coloured diamond has a coloured diamond price of $2,400 per carat, the coloured diamond price of a reddish brown diamond can go up to $30,000 per carat – over 12 times as much due to the effect of the colour red. No other colour has such a drastic effect when it appears as a modifier. The most known red diamond is the Moussaieff Red – a 5.11ct Pure Red diamond that was purchased at a coloured diamond price of over $ 1.6 million per carat.

A natural coloured diamond ring setting
A natural coloured diamond ring setting

Natural Coloured Diamonds in Jewellery

Natural coloured diamonds are used in jewellery such as rings, necklaces and pendants. However, coloured diamond rings and coloured diamond necklaces are the most popular of these settings. Coloured diamond rings come in a variety of settings ranging from simple designs such as the prong, bezel or tension which are easy to wear to designs such as the pave and halo which give your coloured diamond a more dazzling effect. Other coloured diamond rings designs include; Asscher, Emerald, Heart, Princess or Roman numeral, available in all sorts of sizes and materials such as yellow gold, rose gold and white for both men and women. Coloured diamond rings and coloured diamond necklaces can be set on metals such as platinum, gold, palladium or silver. Platinum and gold are the most widely appreciated metals for use in coloured diamond jewellery settings like coloured diamond engagement rings and coloured diamond necklaces.

Synthetic Coloured Diamond

Synthetic diamonds, commonly referred to as lab-grown diamonds are diamonds produced in a controlled process that imitates the natural geological process of diamond formation in the Earth’s crust. They are made of the same material as natural diamonds and then crystallized in isotropic 3D form. The methods used to create synthetic diamonds include; HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature), CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) and NPD.

  1. HPHT synthetic coloured diamonds are grown using the high pressure, high-temperature method. The method makes use of three press designs (the belt press, the cubic press and the split-sphere) to supply the high pressure and temperatures needed to produce synthetic diamonds. Diamond seeds are placed at the bottom of the press and the internal part of the press heated to temperatures above 1400 °C to melt the solvent metal. The molten metal dissolves the high purity carbon source, which is then transported to the small diamond seeds and precipitates, forming a large synthetic coloured diamond.

  2. CVD synthetic coloured diamonds are developed from a hydrocarbon gas mixture. This process is simpler and more flexible for laboratory research compared to the HPHT method. It also does not require high pressures, as diamond formation occurs at pressures less than 27 kPa. The CVD coloured diamond growth involves substrate preparation, feeding varying amounts of gases into a chamber and energizing them. The gases always include a carbon source, typically methane, and hydrogen with a typical ratio of 1:99. The gases are ionized into chemically active radicals in the growth chamber using microwave power, a hot filament, an arc discharge, a welding torch, a laser, an electron beam or other means.

  3. NPD synthetic coloured diamonds have been produced using the CVD method since the 1950s. It involves the seeding of a flat platform substrate of metal or ceramic with micron diamond and putting the seeds in a chamber under vacuum. Hydrogen and methane are then introduced into the chamber and the mixture heated rapidly. The gases react with each other and the seed diamond so that a diamond layer forms on the seed diamond and grows in a columnar manner. Thicknesses up to several millimeters can be achieved.

Coloured Diamonds: Treatment of Gems

Most gems in the coloured diamond trade have been treated to change their appearance. This alteration is necessary so that the fancy coloured diamonds can be used in jewellery such as coloured diamond rings and coloured diamond necklaces. However, beyond traditional cutting and polishing, gems can be treated in ways meant to alter their colour or clarity and in addition to enhancing their appearance; the process may also improve or in some cases diminish the coloured diamond’s durability.

Coloured Diamonds: Forms of Gem Treatment

  • Surface Coating. This involves altering a gem’s appearance by applying a colouring agent like paint to the back surfaces of gems or a portion of a gemstone’s surface. This often results in a colour change.

  • (HPHT) Treatment: This type of treatment involves heating a coloured diamond to high temperatures under high confining pressures to remove, or change its colour. This process can remove or lessen their brownish colouration, so that the gem remains colourless. Other types of diamonds may be transformed from brown to yellow, orangey yellow and yellowish green or blue colours by this process.

  • Irradiation: Exposure of a coloured diamond to an artificial source of radiation to change its colour is sometimes followed by a heat treatment to modify the colour further. Neutron and electron radiation are the most common forms of artificial irradiation. This treatment makes it possible to induce black, green, blue-green, deep yellow, orange, pink, and red coloured diamonds often combined with a secondary step of heating to achieve these colours.

A LONITÉ coloured diamond engagement ring
A LONITÉ coloured diamond engagement ring

LONITÉ, one of the world leaders in the coloured diamond industry is headquartered in Switzerland’s economic capital of Zürich. In creation of coloured diamonds at their state of the art Swiss laboratory, the cremated ashes are measured first to ascertain that they contain enough carbon to be turned into a coloured diamond, then the ashes or hair are stirred into a Nano powder in a special chemical gas environment. An impurity remover is then applied in a special solvent to remove unstable chemicals.

Special treatment is applied so that the remaining carbon is adequately preserved while other elements extracted are reduced to a fractional minimum; oxygen is removed and inert, protective and reducing gases are injected to protect the ashes or hair from oxidation. Because the carbon from hair or ashes is then placed in a safe and resistant cabinet, in a wet chemical environment, to increase purity by removing heavy metals. The program-controlled process of specific temperatures, stirring speeds, and the addition of chemical reagents ensures the carbon quality. At the end of this final purification step, the carbon purity reaches as high as 99.99% (4N Purity). The purified, extracted carbon is converted into flake graphite in a cylinder shape. Before being placed into the diamond synthesis machine, the cylinder is carefully wrapped in protective and corbelled materials which prepare it for the final technical steps that require pressure and temperature measurement, insulation and protection. The transformation takes 6 to 9 months(1 ct) depending on the size and colour of the coloured diamond to be created. LONITÉ coloured diamonds come in sizes of 0.25ct to 2.0ct, available in 6 cuts including; Brilliant, Princess, Radiant, Asscher, Emerald and Heart. The coloured diamonds are available for sale in 4 different colours; naturally amber, red, blue and greenish yellow. The LONITÉ coloured diamond price ranges from £1400 up to £ 28000.

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