From black diamond engagement rings to stones chosen as investments.
By Arta Ertekin
From Sex & The City to Sotheby’s Geneva, coloured diamonds are grabbing headlines and the attention of consumers. Arta Ertekin quizzes diamond dealers and jewellers about the growing appeal of coloured diamonds and why brides are becoming more enamoured with colour.
The solitaires of many fiancées have adopted interesting shades of late. Red, purple, green, blue, pink, orange, yellow, cognac and even brown; fancy coloured diamonds have never been so popular.
Is it since Carrie Bradshaw was given a five carat black diamond engagement ring by the designer Itay Malkin in Sex and the City 2? Or is it because of the sheer amount of press coverage given to the most exquisite diamond achieving record prices at auction?
Last November, The Orange – the largest fancy vivid orange diamond known to exist – was sold for US$36 million (£22m) at Christie’s in Geneva. This was followed by the purchase of an oval mixed-cut fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 59.60 carats by New York diamond cutter Isaac Wolf at a Sotheby’s Geneva auction. Wolf bought the candy floss pink stone, dubbed the Pink Star and later renamed the Pink Dream, for more than $83 million (£50m).
Natacha Langerman is a natural coloured diamond specialist based in Antwerp, Belgium. She has created a number of collections of exclusive, handmade natural colour diamond jewels, many of which are available online. For Natacha, this rising interest for coloured diamonds is easy to understand: “When people talk so much about fancy coloured diamonds, they just want to have one. In the past, coloured diamonds only appeared in selected magazines. They appear now in daily newspapers, in the movies, on the red carpet, so women feel like having their own coloured diamond.”
COLOURED VS COLOURLESS
It is difficult to evaluate the price and success of this special palette of stones. Fancy coloured diamonds appear to command higher prices than their classical colourless sisters. There is a maxim which says that “for each coloured diamond, 10,000 colourless diamonds can be found”. Indeed, coloured diamonds are extremely rare. But what makes things even more complex is the issue of pricing. Since no official Rapaport pricelist exists to rate them, for example, it is difficult to estimate how coloured diamonds should be priced.
Instead, it is colour that determines a stone’s value. Eddy Elzas, owner of Rainbow Gems in Antwerp, explains: “Fancy, intense and vivid describe very different types of coloured diamonds that will not be sold at the same price. Unfortunately, people misuse these characteristics [yet they] are essential.”
To complement the famous Four Cs that define diamonds and to ensure the nomenclature is correct, there are three additional characteristics that need to be taken into account for coloured stones. The tone, hue and saturation of a coloured diamond will help us to identify if it is a fancy light, fancy, fancy intense or fancy vivid stone, the latter deemed the finest.
“[However] the Four Cs for coloured diamonds have a different connotation than the ones for colourless diamonds,” explains Yves Frey, the managing director of Yves Frey Diamonds in London. He says the carat weight of a coloured diamonds holds less importance as the main objective of the polishing phase is to reveal the stone’s colour. “For the cut, radiant and cushions are most appropriate for coloured diamonds, and in terms of clarity, impurities can be tolerated as long as they do not interfere in the play of the colour and in the sparkle,” Frey explains. “As for the colour, in coloured diamonds their exceptional tint is achieved due to external elements, for example radium for green diamonds and nitrogen for yellow diamonds.”
As Frey notes, size is not everything, something that 77 Diamonds managing director Tobias Kormind confirms, especially when comparing white and coloured diamonds. “A classic example would be a 1.50ct high quality colourless or white diamond that might cost £15,000, but an equivalent fancy pink diamond could fetch £200,000,”
Kormind states. But colour does not always mean a higher cost. “Yellow diamonds are a much more common colour and though the highest colour grades can be slightly more expensive than white diamonds, the lower colour grades often cost less than white diamonds, offering an angle to achieve larger sizes for the same budget,” Kormind adds. This means there is the scope for an increasing number of women or brides-to-be to opt for a yellow or champagne-coloured diamonds over white or colourless stones.
MOST FASHIONABLE PIECES
The growing confidence among consumers when it comes to wearing coloured stones has begun to filter into fine jewellery, most notably in the growing vogue for coloured diamonds among brides. Antonia Kendle, gemmologist at Holts London, explains: “Yellow diamonds are a popular choice for engagement rings, and cognac-hued diamonds are popular both as centre gemstones for engagement rings and as side gemstones to complement unusual coloured sapphires.”
Kendle says Holts’ customers are increasingly interested in having coloured diamonds or gemstones in their engagement ring instead of the classic colourless diamond. “This seems to be due to a wish to have something a little different, not the same as everyone else but still elegant and wearable,” she notes.
For Langerman, one colour reigns. “I would say pink diamonds are a must,” she states. “However, coloured diamonds have always been successful and there has always been room for coloured diamonds in the bridal market, but the mounting trend is associated with the more affordable of stones.”
Arguably, the affordable end of the coloured diamond market plays quite literally into the hands of brides, trendsetting grooms or women seeking a special right hand ring. But coloured diamonds are also something of an investment. “Larger stones of top quality in rarer colours such as pinks and blues are only for the most discerning of our clients who compare them to valuable pieces of art,” Kormind explains.
“Then, there are individuals and collectors that have purchased coloured diamond of good quality and rare colours as an investment to diversify their portfolio, as well as high earning professionals that want a more unusual and valuable item to wear.”
Fancy coloured diamonds have the potential to seduce us all, from brides, gem dealers and collectors, to those celebrities treading the red carpet. Their rarity and beauty also equates to aspiration and a desire to be different, driving interest in even the most reasonably priced of stones. Ultimately, as Yves Frey concludes: “Fancy coloured diamonds reveal your self-expression and true passion.”
This feature was taken from the February issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.