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  • Writer's pictureClaire Won

How Diamonds Are Priced

There aren't too many items or icons that go hand-in-hand with wealth and prestige, but the dazzling diamond happens to be one of them.

For centuries, this rare and delightful stone has been a sign of prosperity and has therefore been hunted down since the beginning of time. Though their status in the modern world is slightly different than it was in the past, it still carries the notion of being exorbitantly expensive, practically unattainable, and reserved only for those with the true means of affording such a luxury. While diamonds are far from being thrifty, which is part of their appeal, they are also not always as pricey as they are made out to be. Let us take a look at the different types of diamonds, the various categories they fall into, and most importantly, how they are priced. This way you will have a much better idea as to what is out there and what you can or cannot afford.

Colorless and Fancy Color Diamonds

To most people, a diamond is a beautiful, transparent, crystal-like stone. While this is absolutely true, there is much more to this rare and complex gem. For starters, diamonds, which are found in deposits throughout the world, are mined in their rough state. What this means is that to the untrained eye, a rough diamond would most probably not even be recognizable. A lot of work, including cutting and polishing, goes into transforming a rough stone into the gleaming diamond that we all know and love.

The other thing many are unaware of is that there are two main types of diamonds. There is the colorless diamond that most are familiar with, but actually just call a diamond, or at the very most, a white diamond. Then there is the fancy color diamond. This is a genuine (not synthetic) diamond with a natural color. For example, yellow diamonds are the most common. The color can be any color of the rainbow, literally. Although, some colors are more common than others. Fancy color diamonds can be a combination of colors, but all come from a mixture of the 12 main colors, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, purple, brown, gray, fancy black, and fancy white (not to be confused with a colorless diamond.)

As precious and semi-precious gemstones go, diamonds are on the rarer side. Still, colorless diamonds are beyond abundant in comparison to fancy color diamonds. In fact, only 1 in every 10,000 carats of colorless diamonds mined is a color diamond. You don't need to be a business expert to know that the rarer something is, the more it may cost. Though, this should not cause you to give up on ever owning one of these phenomenal gems just yet because there is good news.

Colorless diamonds and fancy color diamonds may be two kinds of diamonds, but they are ultimately the same stone. Colorless diamonds are called that because they lack color. Why would that be worth mentioning if diamonds by definition do not display color? That's because they do. A colorless diamond's color is graded with a letter grade of D to Z. D is the highest grade and represents a diamond that is completely void of color. These diamonds are incredibly rare and extraordinarily expensive because they are so hard to come by. E and F diamonds are on the same level as D diamonds and G to J diamonds are considered mid-level. The rest, K to M, N to R, and the lowest diamond color grades, S-Z, actually contain the presence of a yellow or brown coloring. If you weren't confused yet, listen to this. There is a slight overlap just at the end of the colorless color diamond grading scale and the beginning of the fancy color diamond color grading scale, because it is the presence of color that acquires the grade. Color diamonds are all about the color and therefore the more intensely the color is seen, the better, and the more expensive the stone. Some color diamonds with a low color intensity level can cost far less than a colorless stone, which means that owning a color diamond is an option for anyone considering a decent quality colorless diamond.

Color Intensity in Fancy Color Diamonds

Now that we have established a difference between colorless and fancy color diamonds and emphasized some of the factors that can determine their prices, we can shift our focus to the primary way in which fancy color diamonds are priced.

The GIA, The Gemological Institute of America, is the leading authority for grading and assessing gems, including diamonds. There are other gem labs that do this work as well, but GIA managed to develop their name as the most trusted. They created the system that includes the well known 4 Cs for authenticating a diamond's (and other gemstones') worth from a third party source. These four categories are: color, cut, clarity, and carat.


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