Fancy Colored Diamonds Explained and Ranked by Rarity

Last updated May 6, 2024

While diamonds are traditionally white (colorless), they can also be found in a wide spectrum of striking colors including blue, yellow, pink, green, red, and black. Collectively, these eye-catching gems are known as fancy colored diamonds or fancy color diamonds.

Fancy color diamonds are extremely rare – it’s estimated that only one colored diamond exists for every 10,000 white diamonds. Thanks to their rarity and desirability, colored diamonds are typically more valuable than normal white diamonds.

This guide explains what fancy colored diamonds are, how they get their colors, and how they’re graded for quality and value. You’ll also learn which colors are the rarest, which are the most popular, and which are the most affordable – the answers might surprise you!

What is “Color” vs. “Fancy Color”?

In white diamonds, diamond color is seen as a negative. It’s something you want less of. The opposite is true for fancy color diamonds – the stronger the color, the more valuable the stone.

The normal color range for diamonds is white to light yellow or light brown. On the white diamond D-Z color scale developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the most valuable white diamonds are graded D (completely colorless). The least valuable are graded Z (with obvious yellowish or brownish tints).

When a yellowish or brownish diamond has too much color to be called a white diamond, it falls off the D-Z scale and becomes fancy colored.

Diamonds that show colors outside the normal color range – such as pink, blue, and green – are desirable even when their color is too faint to be considered fancy. This is because these colors are far rarer than yellow and brown.

What Causes Color in Fancy Colored Diamonds?

White and fancy colored diamonds are both real diamonds formed through the same geological process: carbon atoms are subjected to intense heat and pressure within the Earth’s mantle, which “squeezes” the atoms to bond tightly together in a crystal lattice.

Colorless white diamonds are structurally and chemically pure. When a diamond shows color, it’s because something is disrupting that purity.

Different diamond colors have different causes:

  • Inclusion of trace elements. For instance, the incorporation of nitrogen atoms within a diamond’s lattice results in yellow and orange colors.
  • Exposure to other elements. One example is violet color, which is produced by proximity to hydrogen and nickel during a diamond’s formation.
  • Exposure to radiation. Green color is caused by a diamond’s proximity to naturally radioactive materials. (Don’t worry – green diamonds themselves aren’t radioactive!)
  • Structural deformation. Atomic defects in a diamond’s crystal structure are thought to be the origin of red, pink, purple, and brown colors.
  • Abundant mineral inclusions. Black color, for example, results from inclusions of graphite that are so numerous that they turn a diamond black.

How Are Fancy Colored Diamonds Graded?

If you’re buying a colored diamond, make sure a GIA grading certificate is included with your purchase. Since GIA released its Colored Diamond Color Grading System in 1994, most gem quality colored diamonds been have graded by GIA. You want yours to be, too.

Why? First and foremost, professional independent grading ascertains whether the stone you’re buying is a genuine colored diamond. Synthetic, simulated, or color-enhanced diamonds aren’t worth nearly as much as natural colored diamonds. Grading gives you peace of mind that what you’re paying for is the real deal.

And secondly, because GIA is the market leader for fancy colored diamond grading worldwide. Other gemological labs grade colored diamonds, but GIA’s grading methodology is the most comprehensive and trustworthy. With a GIA grading certificate, you can be confident that your diamond wasn’t over-graded – that is, more valuable on paper than it is in reality.

Under the Colored Diamond Color Grading System, the 4Cs of diamonds (cut, clarity, carat, and color) are applied differently than they are to white diamonds.

  • Diamond Cut: Fancy colored diamonds are not graded for cut. In the context of the 4Cs, cut is what gives a round white diamond brilliance and sparkle. But fancy colored diamonds are valued for their color, not for how they interact with light. This means colored diamonds are cut to best display color, rather than how white diamonds are cut to maximize light performance.
  • Diamond Clarity: Most fancy colored diamonds are graded for clarity. However, high clarity is far less important in colored diamonds than in white diamonds. A colored diamond can have inclusions to a degree that would be very unattractive in white diamonds, and still be desirable.
  • Diamond Carat: All fancy colored diamonds are graded for carat weight. As with clarity, carat weight is less important in colored diamonds. A half-carat stone with strong color will often sell for much more than a 1 carat stone with weak color.
  • Diamond Color: All fancy colored diamonds are graded for color. This is by far the most important 4C for a colored diamond. Unlike white diamonds, which are graded on the absence of color, color in fancy colored diamonds is assessed across three criteria: hue, tone, and saturation.

Colored Diamond Hue

Hue is defined as one of the seven colors visible in a rainbow or prism of light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and purple.

More generally, it’s synonymous with color. In this sense, hue also refers to the five other fancy diamond colors that don’t appear on the rainbow spectrum: pink, brown, gray, black, and fancy white (fancy whites are milky white, not clear and colorless like normal white diamonds).

Many colored diamonds feature a primary hue plus one or more weaker hues called modifying hues or overtones. In such cases, the dominant hue is always stated last when describing a diamond’s color.

So, for example, a bluish-green diamond is primarily green with a blue overtone, while a greenish-blue diamond is primarily blue with a green overtone.

Colored Diamond Tone

Tone refers to how dark or light a diamond’s hue is. A stronger tone equals a darker color, while a lighter tone means a paler color.

You can think of tone via the analogy of mixing paints. Let’s say you have some green paint and you add a little black paint. The color remains green, but it’s darker. Likewise, if instead you added white paint, you’d get a paler green.

Generally, the most desirable fancy colored diamonds display moderately light to medium tones. If the tone is either too light or too dark, the diamond’s hue isn’t bright enough to “pop”.

Blue diamonds are an interesting exception to this general rule, as they usually look better with a deeper color tone. This is because most blue diamonds have grayish modifying hues, so a darker blue is needed to overpower the gray.

Colored Diamond Saturation

Saturation refers to the strength or intensity of a diamond’s primary hue.

To visualize how saturation works, imagine that you’ve got a bowl of bright yellow dye. You dip a white cloth in the bowl, and it comes out as a vibrant, concentrated yellow. Now you add water, diluting the contents of your bowl to 20% dye and 80% water. Dip in another white cloth, and the resulting color is still yellow, but much less intense and saturated than before.

Color intensity is hugely important to the value of a fancy colored diamond. Stones with strong color saturation are significantly more expensive than those with weak saturation.

Depending on their color, fancy colored diamonds have different ranges of saturation. For instance, blue and green diamonds rarely reach intense saturation levels, while highly saturated pink and yellow diamonds occur more often.

Fancy Colored Diamond Grading Scale

GIA uses nine grades when assessing colored diamonds: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid.

FaintShows the lightest tone and lowest saturation.
Very LightShows slightly more saturation and/or tone than Faint diamonds.
LightShows slightly more saturation and/or tone than Very Light diamonds.
Fancy LightShows slightly more saturation and/or tone than Light diamonds.
FancyShows light to medium levels of tone and saturation.
Fancy DarkShows medium to dark tone and low to medium saturation.
Fancy DeepShows medium to dark tone and medium to high saturation.
Fancy IntenseShows light to medium tone and medium to high saturation.
Fancy VividShows light to medium tone and very high saturation.

Only grades that include the word “Fancy” refer to true fancy colored diamonds. The Faint, Very Light, and Light grades refer to:

  • White diamonds graded on the lower end of the D-Z color scale (showing yellowish or brownish tints).
  • Weakly toned and/or saturated diamonds in colors outside the normal color range (purple, orange, green, etc.).

Color rarity also plays a role in colored diamond grading. As the most common fancy colors, yellow and brown diamonds need to show more color intensity to move up the grading scale, compared to rarer colors like pink and blue.

This means, for instance, that a yellow diamond and pink diamond can have the same moderate levels of color saturation, but the yellow diamond would get the lower Fancy Light grade while the pink diamond would get the higher Fancy grade.

Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid diamonds with even color distribution are generally the most sought-after and expensive fancy color grades. Their tone is neither too light nor too dark, which makes the hue bright and eye-catching, and they have impressive saturation, which gives the hue intensity.

Fancy Colored Diamonds in Order of Rarity

Below are the twelve primary fancy diamond colors, ordered from the most to least rare. Red diamonds are the rarest, while brown diamonds are the most common. The rarity rankings of the other ten fancy colored diamonds is less certain, as nobody knows for sure how many stones of each diamond color have been mined throughout history.

Saying that, we’ve done our best to order the colors as accurately as possible, taking into account factors like price, market availability, and the opinions of gemologists, geologists, and other industry experts.

Fancy Red Diamonds

An engagement ring set with a small red diamond.
A purplish-red fancy colored diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Red is the rarest diamond color. It’s estimated that no more than 20-30 pure red fancy diamonds have ever been mined in the world, not including stones with modifying hues. Most reds originated in Australia and weigh less than half a carat. The biggest is the 5.11 carat Moussaieff Red, which was found in Brazil.

Popularity & Availability: Since red colored diamonds are so scarce, their popularity is hard to judge. These gems remain out of reach for most people due to their extreme rarity and sky-high prices. However, it’s a safe bet that if red diamonds were more accessible, their stunning color would ensure high demand.

Why Are They Red?: Scientists and gemologists still don’t know exactly what makes red diamonds red. The most accepted theory is that red diamonds were subjected to unusually intense heat and pressure during their geological formation, causing their crystal lattices to deform. It’s this structural deformation, rather than any chemical impurity, that produces the red color.

Colors & Overtones: Unlike most types of natural colored diamonds, red diamonds come in only one color grade: Fancy. This is may be because all red diamonds are actually pink diamonds taken to their strongest possible color saturation. Hues range from pure red diamonds (the most valued) to stones with modifying hues of purple, orange, or brown.

Cost & Where to Buy: Red diamonds are the most expensive fancy colored diamonds by carat weight. A half-carat red diamond can sell for upwards of $500,000, and sometimes more than $1,000,000. If you have that kind of budget, check out the selection of red diamonds at Leibish, which is one of the few online vendors that carries inventory of these rare and beautiful precious stones.

Fancy Violet Diamonds

A violet fancy color diamond engagement ring.
A delicate heart shaped grayish-violet diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Violet colored diamonds are a close second behind red in terms of rarity. Gems of 1 carat or above are astronomically rare – violet diamonds typically weigh no more than 2/10ths of a carat. Before its closure in 2020, the Argyle mine of Western Australia produced most of the world’s violet diamonds, including the stunning 2.83 carat Argyle Violet.

Popularity & Availability: Though they’re highly prized by fancy color diamond collectors, violet diamonds have only moderate demand in the mainstream jewelry market. This is likely due to a combination of low stock availability, high prices, carat sizes that many consider too small for engagement rings, and other colors being more well-known and sought-after.

Why Are They Violet?: The exact cause of violet color in diamonds is uncertain. According to researchers at GIA, a combination of hydrogen, nickel, and nitrogen impurities is likely to be behind the coloring, at least for violets from the Argyle mine. Natural radiation may also be a factor.

Colors & Overtones: Violet is the color between blue and purple. For centuries, violet wasn’t recognized as its own color, and even today, violet diamonds are often thought of as a subset of purple diamonds. While pure violet colored diamonds do exist, the vast majority of violets have grayish or bluish overtones.

Cost and Where to Buy: A 0.10 carat violet diamond will generally set you back between $15,000 to $30,000, depending on its color saturation and overtones. Larger sizes, if you can find them, cost more. Leibish specializes in rare fancy color diamonds and carries the largest selection of quality violets.

Fancy Purple Diamonds

An engagement ring set with a purple fancy colored diamond.
A marquise cut pinkish-purple fancy color diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Purple fancy diamonds run small, with most weighing less than a carat. It’s estimated that less than 100 pure purple diamonds are currently in circulation. Since the closure of Australia’s Argyle mine, most gem quality purple diamonds are found in Russia. One of the most famous purples, the 7.34 carat Royal Purple Heart, also likely originated in Russia.

Popularity & Availability: As well as being not readily available due to limited supply, purple colored diamonds aren’t very well known in the consumer market. Part of their relatively low popularity may be that purple diamonds are typically pale. Amethysts, by far the more popular purple gemstone, are darker in tone and richer in saturation, as well as being much more affordable.

Why Are They Purple?: As with red diamonds, purple diamonds are thought to gain their color from deformations within their crystal lattices. Essentially, some carbon atoms “slipped” out of place after prolonged exposure to heat and pressure. This is different to how the color of violet diamonds comes from chemical impurities, reinforcing that purples and violets are two distinct types of colored diamond.

Colors & Overtones: As mentioned earlier, purple fancy color diamonds usually don’t reach deep tone or high saturation levels. Purple diamonds often have brownish or grayish secondary hues, which detract from the vibrancy of the primary hue. Pure purples and purples with pink overtones are more attractive and command higher prices.

Cost & Where to Buy: A half carat purple fancy colored diamond on the paler side starts at around $10,000, while more saturated gems can go for $150,000 and up. James Allen, Blue Nile, and Leibish are some reputable vendors that offer purple diamonds.

Fancy Green Diamonds

A green fancy color diamond engagement ring.
A bluish-green diamond engagement ring in yellow gold

Rarity & Origins: Fancy green diamonds are some of the rarest precious stones in the world. South America and Africa are currently the major sources of fancy greens. India once produced some beautiful greens, including the famous 41 carat Dresden Green, before its principal diamond mines were exhausted in the early 1800s.

Popularity & Availability: The supply of green colored diamonds is extremely limited, and they’re not as well-known to consumers as other fancy colors like pink, blue, and yellow. Saying that, an uptick in consumer interest followed Ben Affleck giving Jennifer Lopez an 8 carat green diamond engagement ring in 2022.

Why Are They Green?: Most green diamonds got their color through millions of years of exposure to underground radiation. Diamonds can also be artificially irradiated to produce green coloring. While most diamond color treatments can be easily detected by professional graders, it’s often difficult for even experts to discern between artificial and natural green diamonds.

Colors & Overtones: The color in most fancy green diamonds is concentrated at the surface of the stone, not permeating all the way through to the center. The most valuable greens have strong and evenly distributed color, the result of longer radiation exposure. Stones can be pure green or display yellowish, bluish, brownish, and/or grayish overtones.

Cost & Where to Buy: Less saturated, lower quality fancy green diamonds start at about $5,000 for a 1 carat stone. For higher quality, you’re looking at $200,000 and up. We recommend Leibish, James Allen, and Blue Nile as good places to shop for certified green diamonds.

Fancy Orange Diamonds

An orange fancy colored diamond engagement ring.
An emerald cut yellowish-orange diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Orange diamonds are considered extraordinarily rare, though slightly less so than the rarest of rare diamond colors. Orange colored diamonds originate from South Africa and Australia. The largest known specimen, called simply The Orange, weighs 14.82 carats.

Popularity & Availability: While investors and collectors love fancy oranges, the general consumer market is limited due to low supply. Plus, orange often ranks as one of the least favored colors in surveys, which may also contribute to the relatively low popularity of orange diamonds.

Why Are They Orange?: Nitrogen is the cause of orange color in diamonds. When nitrogen impurities appear in a diamond’s lattice in a specific arrangement, they absorb certain blue and yellow wavelengths of light. This is what creates the appearance of an orange hue to human eyes.

Colors & Overtones: Almost all orange fancy colored diamonds feature modifying hues. Yellow, brown, red, and pink are the most common overtones. Brown overtones are less favored because they darken the brightness of the primary orange hue.

Cost & Where to Buy: A 1 carat orange fancy colored diamond starts at around $5,000, and runs up to past $50,000 as hue, tone, and saturation improve. A high quality orange without modifying hues goes into the hundreds of thousands. Leibish has the best selection of fancy color oranges. Failing that, try James Allen or Blue Nile.

Fancy Blue Diamonds

An engagement ring with fancy blue diamond center stone.
A magnificent emerald cut blue diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: While some other diamond colors may be rarer overall, blue diamonds with high saturation are among the rarest gems on Earth. Blue fancy color diamonds come from Africa, Borneo, and Brazil, and were once also mined in India and Australia. The most famous is the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond, the inspiration for the Heart of the Ocean diamond in Titanic.

Popularity & Availability: Blue diamonds hold a special place in our cultural imagination, thanks to their prominent appearances on the silver screen, in record-setting auction prices, and in legends of cursed jewels. Yet although blue fancy color diamonds are well-known and popular, there’s not enough supply to meet demand, and high prices keep these coveted diamonds out of reach of most consumers.

Why Are They Blue?: Most fancy blue diamonds get their color from the rare element boron. When trace boron atoms replace some of the carbon atoms in a diamond’s crystal lattice, they absorb red wavelengths of light to give the stone a blue appearance.

Colors & Overtones: As with purple and green diamonds, blue diamonds typically don’t exhibit strong saturation. If you’re after a rich, velvety blue color, sapphires are the better (and much more wallet-friendly!) option. Most blue colored diamonds have modifying hues, with grayish and greenish being the most common. Pure blue diamonds are the rarest and most desirable.

Cost & Where to Buy: The cost for a 1 carat blue fancy colored diamond can easily reach $200,000, and over the $1 million mark if its color saturation is strong. Leibish has the widest selection of fancy blue diamonds. You can also check out the smaller inventories displayed at James Allen and Blue Nile.

Fancy Pink Diamonds

An oval cut fancy pink diamond engagement ring.
A stunning Argyle purplish-pink diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: As with blue diamonds, fancy pink diamonds aren’t the rarest per se, but strongly saturated pinks are extremely rare gifts of Nature. Most pink colored diamonds were sourced from the now-closed Argyle mine of Australia. The most expensive diamond ever sold at auction is the 59.6 carat Pink Star, which fetched $71.2 million in 2017.

Popularity & Availability: Fancy pink diamonds are very popular with both investors and consumers. Back in 2002, the 6.1 carat pink diamond engagement ring Ben Affleck gave to Jennifer Lopez sparked a pink diamond jewelry trend that’s endured to this day. Supply has tightened since the Argyle mine closed in 2020, leading to price increases.

Why Are They Pink?: Evidence suggests that red and pink diamonds get their color through the same process: lattice deformation caused by the extreme heat and pressure that these diamonds endured on their journey to the Earth’s surface. Because reds and darker pinks were subjected to higher stress factors, they have higher color saturation than paler pinks.

Colors & Overtones: Fancy pink diamonds can come with overtones of purplish, orangy, grayish, and/or brownish. Purplish-pink diamonds are highly desirable, and nearly as valuable as pure pinks. Argyle pinks are particularly prized for their unusually strong saturation and bright pink hues.

Cost & Where to Buy: A 1 carat pink diamond with a reasonably bright tone and medium saturation costs about $100,000. Paler and brownish-toned gems start at around $10,000, while highly saturated gems can reach $700,000 and up. You can find high quality fancy pink diamonds at Leibish, James Allen, and Blue Nile.

Fancy White Diamonds

A white fancy colored diamond set in a vintage engagement ring.
An ethereal fancy white diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Comparing the rarity of fancy white diamonds against other colored diamonds is difficult; they quite possibly belong much higher on this list. Due to their lack of commercial appeal, few stones have been submitted for grading – GIA’s largest ever study of fancy white diamonds in 2019 had only around 500 stones to work with. Source countries for fancy whites include India and Brazil.

Popularity & Availability: White is the least popular color for fancy diamonds, which may mean that many more stones exist than make their way into jewelry stores. While black and brown colored diamonds have both had market breakthroughs after decades of being undesirable, fancy whites have yet to attract the same level of consumer attention.

Why Are They White?: A white fancy colored diamond contains highly concentrated submicroscopic inclusions, so numerous that they give the stone a milky or cloudy appearance. Fancy whites can be transparent, translucent, or nearly opaque, depending on the number of inclusions. So far, no way has been discovered to artificially treat or create white colored diamonds.

Colors & Overtones: The color for fancy white diamonds ranges from milky to creamy white. Unlike most types of colored diamonds, fancy whites don’t have overtones. However, some “opalescent” fancy whites scatter light in a similar way to opals, giving them a shimmery appearance with occasional flashes of pastel colors.

Cost & Where to Buy: Despite being extremely rare, fancy whites are surprisingly affordable. The cost for a 1 carat fancy white diamond ranges from about $3,000 to $6,000, taking into account factors such as color appearance and the overall attractiveness of the stone. Though most stores don’t offer fancy white diamonds, you can find a modest selection at Leibish.

Fancy Black Diamonds

An engagement ring with a black fancy colored diamond center stone.
A striking black fancy colored diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Like fancy white diamonds, comparatively few black diamonds have been submitted for grading, which makes judging their rarity challenging. The most famous black diamond is the 67.5 carat Black Orlov, rumored to be cursed. Brazil, Siberia, and Zimbabwe are some known sources of black colored diamonds.

Popularity & Availability: Historically, black diamonds were held in low regard. Since the late 20th century, these striking monochromatic gems have found a niche following among those who prefer an upscale yet unconventional look. While not as mainstream as many other fancy colored diamond hues, black diamonds are now more accessible than they’ve ever been.

Why Are They Black?: A black diamond looks uniformly black due to the huge quantities of submicroscopic inclusions dispersed throughout the stone. These inclusions are dark-colored minerals, such as graphite or hematite. Black diamonds are so densely included that most are completely opaque, though some have minor translucence.

Colors & Overtones: Like red fancy color diamonds, black diamonds are given only one colored diamond grade by GIA: Fancy Black. Saying that, if a black diamond was exposed to underground radiation, it may show traces of green or brown under certain lighting conditions.

Cost & Where to Buy: Their relative lack of market recognition and demand makes black colored diamonds quite affordable. You can often find fancy blacks for less than the price of a regular colorless diamond. A natural 1 carat black diamond goes for around $2,000 to $2,500 at Leibish and James Allen.

Fancy Gray Diamonds

A gray fancy colored diamond set in a yellow gold ring.
An elegant gray fancy color diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: As with fancy white and black colored diamonds, the true rarity of gray diamonds is hard to discern. This is due to their low demand compared to other colors like pink and blue, which are bought and sold far more often. South Africa is a major source of gray fancy color diamonds, as was Australia’s Argyle mine. Gray diamonds are also sometimes found in Brazil, India, and Russia.

Popularity & Availability: While pure gray diamonds aren’t that well-known or widely available, grays with certain overtones are in higher demand. Because gray is a neutral color, modifying hues in a gray diamond can show up quite prominently. Bluish-gray colored diamonds, for example, appear as a muted shade of blue – and they sell at a significant discount to primarily blue colored diamonds.

Why Are They Gray?: According to a GIA research paper, gray fancy color diamonds can become gray through several different mechanisms. One is through hydrogen or boron impurities, another is through radiation exposure, and yet another is through micro-inclusions of graphite.

Colors & Overtones: Depending on its tone and saturation, a gray fancy colored diamond can appear anywhere from a misty off-white gray to a deep charcoal gray. Blue and violet are the most common overtones for gray diamonds. Green, yellow, pink, and brown secondary hues are also possible.

Cost & Where to Buy: A 1 carat gray colored diamond without modifying hues starts at around $5,000. Gray diamonds with attractive blue and violet overtones can reach prices above $100,000. Leibish is your best bet for finding a good quality gray diamond.

Fancy Yellow Diamonds

A fancy intense yellow diamond engagement ring.
An oval shape “canary” yellow diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Yellow is the second-to-least rare diamond color. Though fancy yellow diamonds are found in many diamond-producing regions, South Africa is the preeminent source for highly saturated yellows. It also originated the 128.54 carat Tiffany Yellow, the world’s most famous yellow diamond.

Popularity & Availability: Along with fancy pink diamonds, fancy yellows are the most in-demand diamond color. But because yellows are more common and affordable, they’re much easier to find than pinks. In fact, about 60% of the natural colored diamonds available for retail purchase are yellow.

Why Are They Yellow?: A fancy yellow diamond gets its coloring from nitrogen impurities in its crystal lattice that absorb certain blue and violet wavelengths of light, making the stone appear yellow. This is similar to the mechanism that gives orange diamonds their color.

Colors & Overtones: The most prized fancy yellow diamonds are a pure, intense yellow. Such stones are often marketed as “canary” diamonds, while those with pale yellowish tints are sometimes called “cape” diamonds. Modifying hues for a yellow diamond can be greenish, brownish, or orangy.

Cost & Where to Buy: If you like the idea of a fancy color diamond engagement ring, a yellow diamond can be surprisingly accessible. You can find some very nice 1 carat fancy yellow diamonds for around the same cost as a normal white diamond. Prices at Leibish, James Allen, and Blue Nile range from about $4,000 to $10,000 for gems of fair to good quality, and above $20,000 for exceptional quality.

Fancy Brown Diamonds

A rose gold engagement ring set with a brown fancy colored diamond.
An orangy-brown “cognac” diamond engagement ring

Rarity & Origins: Brown diamonds are the most abundant variety of colored diamonds. Australia’s Argyle mine was the biggest producer of brown diamonds, with browns accounting for 80% of its total output. The 545.65 carat Golden Jubilee, a fancy brown diamond discovered in South Africa, is the largest faceted diamond of any color in the world.

Popularity & Availability: Brown diamonds were once undesirable gems that were relegated to industrial uses. Then in the 1980s, marketers gave browns evocative names like “champagne”, “chocolate”, and “cognac”. Today, celebrities like Rihanna and Scarlett Johansson wear brown diamond jewelry, and browns have claimed a modest share of the fancy colored diamond market.

Why Are They Brown?: Similar to red and pink diamonds, most brown diamonds are believed to receive their coloring through lattice deformation. Incredible heat and pressure can dislodge some of a diamond’s carbon atoms from their proper place in its crystal lattice. This causes a brown diamond to behave differently when light hits it, which is why we see it as brown.

Colors & Overtones: Pale browns are sometimes (unofficially) called “champagne” diamonds, darker-hued stones can go by names like “chocolate” or “coffee”, and those with orangy overtones may be marketed as “cognac”. Stones with secondary hues of red, pink, purple, orange, or yellow are often considered more attractive and valuable than pure browns.

Cost & Where to Buy: Pricing for fancy brown diamonds varies greatly, depending on factors like hue, tone, overtone, saturation, and more. Generally speaking, a fair to good quality 1 carat stone can be had for around $2,500, with more select specimens going beyond $10,000. Leibish, James Allen, and Blue Nile are good places to find brown diamonds.

We hope you found this information helpful. To learn more fascinating facts about diamonds, check out our page on the most popular diamond shapes next.