Myths and legends

What color are the most expensive diamonds?

Diamond is the king of the jewelry world, a symbol and equivalent of luxury, prosperity, and sometimes the greatness and significance of its owner. This stone is the hero of novels and films, the culprit of strife and crime, the object of pride and desire. The undisputed leader in the jewelry market was and remains the classic colorless diamond. But the most famous in history, occupying the most honorable places in museums, world treasuries and famous collections, are the amazing and unusual color variations of this precious stone. Today, colored diamonds are at the peak of their fame and demand; collectors and world celebrities are really hunting for them. Due to their rarity and extraordinary aesthetic value, they are an excellent financial investment.


  • rarity
  • quite large sizes
  • specifics of processing: transforming a colored diamond into a diamond requires the special skill of a jeweler and a special cut, different from the cut of colorless stones, since the refraction of rays in them is different. Good craftsmen who work with such diamonds are highly valued in the jewelry world.


How does nature color these beautiful diamonds? The secret is in foreign substances, which in small quantities make the color dirty, but in large quantities make it beautiful and rich. The yellow color comes from lithium, the blue color comes from boron, the pink color comes from manganese, and the green color comes from nitrogen.

In addition, the color is greatly influenced by the depth of the deposit and the intensity of natural radioactive radiation of the future diamond.


Nature has given colored diamonds a huge palette of colors. The most common and very impressive are sunny yellow stones, the rarest and, accordingly, expensive are red ones. There are also green, blue, pink, and purple diamonds in numerous variations of their shades.

The price of a colored diamond is directly proportional to the purity of the color and the intensity of its color. There are nine gradations of this intensity, and the most expensive are the last four, called fancy in the jewelry lexicon:

  • fancy (fancy);
  • intense fancy (intense fantasy);
  • deep fancy (richly fantasy);
  • fancy vivid (bright fantasy).

Diamonds of weak color and with an admixture of colors other than the main one are valued lower.


In our age of technological breakthroughs, man has learned to argue with nature and create valuable products that compete with natural ones. It was impossible to bypass in this vein such a valuable resource as colored diamonds.

The special treatment of a stone with high temperatures, pressure or irradiation, as a result of which a colorless or lightly colored diamond acquires a bright, pure color, is called refining.

This process is often presented as the completion of natural work, but these beliefs are not able to put even the most beautiful artificially ennobled stones on the same level as colored beauties of noble origin.

In fact, only a specialist can distinguish a refined colored diamond from a natural one, but their price is significantly lower. And only the desire to own a rare diamond encourages their fans to spare no expense in purchasing naturally colored stones.

We do not limit your choice, having beautiful jewelry with colored diamonds of any category.

Gem-quality colored diamonds are much rarer than colorless diamonds. While colorless diamonds are mined several million times a year, colored diamonds with bright pure colors are mined in the first tens. Their color can be yellow, orange, cognac, purple, green, pink, red, blue or blue.

The Diamond Fund in the Kremlin exhibits two fancy diamonds: a blue one weighing 7 carats and a pink one weighing 3.36 carats, as well as several yellow and brown diamonds. Diamonds in colors such as red, pink, orange, purple, blue, cyan, and green are often more expensive than colorless diamonds in the highest color group. The high cost makes such stones available exclusively to a narrow circle of very wealthy buyers. It is therefore not surprising that there are only a few companies worldwide that specialize in fancy colored diamonds. In 2003, the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History in the United States demonstrated a unique exhibition of fancy diamonds, for which stones had to be borrowed one by one from the collections of major companies.

In the center is a colorless Millennium Star diamond (203.04 carats). From left to right: Steinmetz Pink (59.60 carats), Heart of Eternity (27 carats), Pumpkin Diamond (5.54 carats), Moussaieff Red (5.11 carats), Ocean Dream, Allnatt (101.29 carats).

The owner of Millennium Star and Heart of Eternity is De Beers. Steinmetz Pink is owned by and named after the Steinmetz Group. Moussaieff Red was cut for Moussaieff Jewelers Ltd. A diamond named Allnatt is named after its owner, the famous philanthropist Alfred Ernst Allnatt

The cost of colored diamonds is immensely high and can reach $1 million per carat if the stone has a natural color. Fancy diamonds have such a huge value primarily due to their rarity. Colored diamonds are so specific that many of the laws of the regular diamond market do not apply to them. They need to be cut according to different rules, graded using different systems, and sold differently than regular diamonds. There are no price lists or price lists for fancy colored diamonds because. There are too few transactions with them for statistical processing of prices. Additionally, small variations in coloration result in significant price jumps. For example, red and pink diamonds can experience a sharp decline in value if they develop a brown tint. Conversely, if the main color is brown, then the value may jump up if an orange tint appears. For blue and cyan diamonds, a gray tint is undesirable, and for green diamonds, a yellow tint is undesirable.

In order to get an idea of ​​the price levels prevailing in the colored diamond market, dealers and gemologists usually collect information about actual transactions with these stones, primarily based on the results of auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Sometimes in the catalogs of these auctions, in preparation for the sale of a colored diamond, transaction prices for other similar stones are given.

The most expensive fancy deep yellow (vivid) diamonds

Carat weight Price $ per stone Price $ per carat Cutting Cleanliness Date of sale Auction
13.83 +3 302 500 238 792 marquis VS1 April1997 Sotheby’s
11.75 +1 888 214 160 699 oval VS1 November 1997 Sotheby’s
9.12 +1 652 500 181 195 rectangle VS1 April 1998 Christie
9.35 +1 067 813 114 205 diamond VVS2 November 2000 Phillips
13.75 976 000 70 982 emerald VVS1 October 1999 Sotheby’s
9.22 969 860 105 191 oval VVS2 November 2000 Sotheby’s
10.03 946 400 94 357 cushion IF April 1999 Christie
13.98 893 500 63 913 rectangle VS2 April 1998 Christie
12.24 882 500 72 100 oval IF April 1996 Sotheby’s
9.38 855 000 91 151 pear VS1 April 1998 Sotheby’s
9.05 772 500 85 359 pear IF April 1995 Sotheby’s
20.03 655 750 32 738 pear VS2 April 2000 Sotheby’s
22.65 555 050 24 506 cushion VS1 November 1999 Sotheby’s
10.23 497 500 48 631 emerald VVS2 October 1995 Sotheby’s

At different times, different colors of diamonds have enjoyed varying degrees of popularity around the world. In the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the last century, blue diamonds were most popular. The famous 42.5-carat blue Hope Diamond is considered the most expensive small object in the world, valued at $200 million, or just under $5 million per carat. Currently, it is difficult to say which color of stone is more popular. For example, starting in the 1970s, when diamond deposits were discovered in Australia, pink, cognac, wine, lilac and red diamonds from the Argyle mine began to be promoted to the market. Now the cost of such stones reaches $100 thousand per carat. The price of red, green and blue diamonds ranges between $400-$500 thousand per carat. In December 2001, a 1.92-carat VS2 red round cut diamond was sold for $1.65 million.

Are black diamonds fancy?

The situation with black diamonds requires a separate discussion. Until recently, the raw material for their production – black diamonds – was considered exclusively technical, i.e. such diamonds were sorted into the “edge” position. The cost of such raw materials did not exceed $10 per carat. However, some part of such raw materials is suitable for cutting, namely those crystals in which the black color is evenly distributed throughout the volume. Not all experts agree that a cut black diamond can be called a diamond, because it is opaque, does not sparkle or “play,” and is capable of reflecting light only on its surface. However, it is clear that the trade term “black diamond” has a right to exist in the sense that the use of this term cannot be prosecuted.

There are much fewer black diamonds than colorless (or almost colorless) diamonds, so black diamonds and jewelry with them began to be positioned as unique and quickly occupied their market niche. They are popular, in particular, among men, many of whom are far from the idea of ​​decorating themselves with colorless diamonds and appearing in public in this form. The cost of black diamonds is much lower than colored ones, and there is a category of buyers who can afford black ones, but cannot afford (or even find on the market) colored ones. In addition, due to the low cost of raw materials, operations with black diamonds are more profitable for cutters, dealers and jewelers than operations with colorless diamonds.

However, in addition to the positive aspects described, the black diamond market also has negative ones. Since many experts are skeptical about them, the owner of black diamonds may feel deceived if he finds out that he “bought a board”, or “overpaid”, because they are “not diamonds at all” and “belong to the very last group according to technical specifications, or do not comply with the specifications at all.” The second problem is that black diamonds can harm the high market reputation of colored diamonds by competing for their role. The third problem is gentrification. The growing popularity of black diamonds has brought about a new round of refining technologies, and in particular, companies have emerged that can “blacken” low-quality, defective diamonds by irradiation or annealing. In turn, gemological laboratories are looking for ways to diagnose traces of refining of such stones and publish research results in scientific gemological periodicals. Another problem is that under the guise of a black diamond, the buyer may be given artificial black moissanite.

Russian market

Russia produces almost all of its diamonds from deposits in the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. In these deposits, of the fantasy colors, only yellow and brown are found. Therefore, the Russian market of colored diamonds and polished diamonds suffers from a shortage of raw materials. Russian jewelers sensed before cutters that there was a demand for fancy-colored diamonds in the country. However, the first blue and bright yellow diamonds they purchased abroad were almost all refined, which, naturally, foreign sellers did not report. Following the lead of jewelers, cutters and dealers saw the opportunities that colored diamonds offered, and naturally colored diamonds appeared on our market. The ALROSA company notes an increase in demand from cutters for yellow and brown rough diamonds. Gradually, the market realized that a colored diamond should be accompanied by a gemological expert report. This conclusion must reflect two circumstances: the natural origin of the stone and the natural origin of the color. Some laboratories, such as GTL GIA, have a separate form for an expert opinion on a fancy colored diamond.

Evaluation Features

What do you need to know to avoid being deceived when trading colored diamonds? Firstly, there is a high probability that the stone may be synthetic or refined. It is easier to synthesize a large diamond crystal with a thick yellow-brown color than a colorless one. Therefore, any yellow, tan or brown diamond should be checked for natural origin. Artificial color-changing technologies available today make it possible to change the color of a natural crystal to a more attractive one, for example, green or bright yellow. Since refining does not leave obvious traces in the stone, special equipment and diagnostic techniques are required. Therefore, diagnostic problems are usually solved in gemological laboratories, and the expert opinion of a recognized laboratory is a guarantee of the authenticity of the stone and its color.

Once there is no doubt about the authenticity of the stone and its color, you need to decide on its characteristics, the most important of which is color. The technical requirements in force in Russia are not easy to apply to color assessment. Such rare colors as pink, blue or green, according to the technical specifications, belong to the first color group, and this is incorrect, because the cost of stones of such colors significantly exceeds the cost of diamonds of the first color group.

Regarding yellow diamonds, the technical specifications indicate that they can be classified as fancy if they are more saturated than a special stone – sample (color standard 8-5). In international practice, the color of ordinary diamonds is characterized by a letter designation from D to Z, depending on the saturation of yellow, and the color of stones yellower than the Z standard is described using the term fancy. In this case, the 8-5 standard may not correspond to the last color in the international color rating scale.

Depending on the hue and saturation, fancy stones are assigned colors: light yellow, yellow, intense yellow, vivid yellow, etc. When moving from one gradation to another, the cost jumps up sharply. And if the main color of the diamond is not yellow or brown, but, for example, blue or pink, then the stone can be considered fancy if its saturation is higher than that of the K color sample.

According to research by CNN/Money, the second place among the “objects of desire” of millionaires is occupied by jewelry with precious stones and, in particular, the most fashionable recently, jewelry with colored diamonds. Cutting colored diamonds is a profitable and promising activity. The chain along which the stone moves from the deposit to the consumer is minimal. Mining companies try to sell all the colored diamonds they find directly to cutting companies, receiving maximum profit from the sale and not leaving it to intermediaries. Cutting companies, in turn, try to find a buyer for the diamond, and in most cases there is already one, and based on his request, the raw materials are searched and cutting is carried out.

Yuri Shelementyev, Petr Pisarev
Gemological Center of Moscow State University

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