An Introduction to the Dazzling World of Colored Diamonds

Colored diamonds with intense depth and saturation are admired for their rarity, with some of the most precious stones gracing the collections of royalty. Their production is nothing short of miraculous, with the colors a result of chemical processes that occur deep within the Earth’s crust. Step into the dazzling world of colored diamonds.

Colored diamonds with intense depth and saturation are admired for their rarity, with some of the most precious stones gracing the collections of royalty. Their production is nothing short of miraculous, with the colors a result of chemical processes that occur deep within the Earth’s crust. Step into the dazzling world of colored diamonds.

Sally Ryder, An Important Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring.
Estimate: HK$2,300,000 - 3,300,000 (US$300,000-430,000)

The timeless allure of a diamond stems from the conditions in which it was created — under intense heat and pressure deep within the Earth’s crust. These precious gems spend most of their existence hiding within the planet’s great depths, waiting to be discovered by admirers and collectors.

Chemically pure diamonds are colorless, but certain impurities — such as the introduction of elements other than carbon — can create dazzling colored diamonds that are sometimes rarer and even more valuable than any white diamond. Colored diamonds have a storied history, with many examples found in the royal houses of Europe and India.

Enthusiasts of colored diamonds pay special attention to saturation. The more intense the color, the more valuable the gems are. One industry standard is the GIA’s color grading system, which classifies colored diamonds using terms such as faint, light and fancy.

Faint is the lowest end of the spectrum; fancy vivid is the highest grade. It is estimated that only one in 10,000 diamonds are fancy, and only around 5% of these diamonds receive the distinction of fancy vivid, making them prized collector’s items.

Here are a few colored diamonds on offer this season.

Lot 659: An Exceptional Pair of Fancy Blue Diamond and Diamond Earrings.

Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000 (US$500,000-770,000)

Blue

Blue-colored gems such as sapphire have long been associated with royalty, gracing the crowns of kings and queens. That makes blue diamonds among the most prized gems. (Perhaps the most famous example is the legendary Hope Diamond.)

Only a handful of mines in Australia, Africa and India have ever produced blue diamonds, and today, output is very scarce. Stones weighing 2 carats are considered extremely rare.

Their color comes from the introduction of boron. Blue diamonds come in many shades, ranging from very light to strong, and they often have secondary colors such as green or gray influencing the blue itself.

The gems in lot 658 and lot 659 are prime examples of fancy blue diamonds with no secondary colors. An exceptional fancy blue diamond and diamond pendant/ring and a pair of fancy blue diamond earrings, they have been expertly cut to maximize their inherent exquisite blueness and display an evenly saturated, lively pure sky-blue color.

Lot 583: An Important Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring.

Estimate: HK$2,300,000 - 3,300,000 (US$300,000-430,000)

Yellow

Diamonds with traces of yellow — caused by the introduction of nitrogen — are often found at the bottom of the colorless grade, but on the opposite end, diamonds with intense shades of yellow are highly valued.

Yellow diamonds with the fancy vivid grade are already extraordinarily rare. Zimmi diamonds — named after the remote town in Sierra Leone from where they are mined — are unrivaled, with their intense shade of yellow often compared to the golden rays of the sun. These diamonds are incredibly sought after and often command prices more than double that of other vivid yellow diamonds on the market.

This 5.32 carat fancy vivid yellow diamond is a fine example of one of these iconic gems. With a softer, elegant cutting style, reminiscent of the past, it displays the characteristic highly saturated Zimmi color, which is what makes it so rare and coveted in the market.

Lot 628: An Impressive Colored Diamond and Diamond Ring.

Estimate: HK$900,000 - 1,200,000 (US$115,000-150,000)

Pink

Pink diamonds can occur in hues ranging from brown-pink to purple-pink, though gems with pure pink and purple-pink hues are the most sought after.

Gemologists are still debating the reason for their color. One theory posits that intense pressure during the formation of the stone creates color centers that can selectively absorb light, giving off a pinkish hue.

Among the most famous pink diamonds are two pieces in the Iranian Crown Jewels collection. The Daria-i-Noor, “sea of light” in Persian, is the world’s largest known pink diamond, once belonging to the rulers of the Mughal empire. Another, the Noor-ul-Ain, is part of a tiara designed by Harry Winston.

For those of us who are not royals, this impressive diamond ring with four colored diamonds offers a chance to own a fancy purple-pink diamond.