If you grew up admiring the diamond rings on the hands of your mother or other relatives, chances are you can still remember their clarity. The same goes for the perfectly arranged diamond jewelry displays at your local mall. The glitz and the glamor of the stone were all due to the way that it sparkled, seemingly effortlessly, under the light. We’re willing to bet that all of these memorable pieces were colorless.
That is because colorless diamonds are oftentimes the most revered of their kind. However, that doesn’t mean they are the best fit for everyone! Sometimes a customer wants a bit of flair in their bling.
While we love to advocate for exotic and highly saturated gemstones, we also understand that diamonds have their own colorful offerings. Many gemstones, like alexandrite, are far rarer than diamonds — but what about the rarest colored diamond?
Enter: the red diamond. It stands out amongst seas of yellow and brown diamonds and shatters the “glass-like” ceiling of its colorless cousins. What exactly makes it so rare? It is very hard to get your hands on and extremely beautiful.
There’s no reason to settle for a classic diamond or venture into uncharted gemstone territory when you can keep it timeless and also bold. The red diamond is the perfect balance between the two worlds.
Quality Test: 4Cs of Diamonds
Before we can explain what makes red diamonds so rare, we have to lay the groundwork for what makes diamonds valuable.
The standardized way to determine diamond quality is through the 4Cs. These include grading a stone based on its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. It was developed by the Gemological Institute of America and is now used internationally when reviewing a diamond’s worth. If you have your diamond certified by the European Gemological Laboratory, you will also get a grade on proportions, finish, plotting, and fluorescence.
Since the color characteristic comes first, you have a clue as to how important it is to the overall value of a diamond. In most cases, color actually ruins the price and desirability of a diamond. Color can also dramatically impact the overall appearance of a diamond to the naked eye by manipulating how it shines and how light passes through it.
What Are the Different Standards for Diamond Color?
The GIA determines color as on a spectrum from D to Z. “Colorless” diamonds are labeled between D and F, “nearly colorless” between G and J, slightly colorful from K to M, very light from N to R, and light color from S to Z.
If you’re someone who prefers numbers to letters, check out the American Gemological Society’s diamond grading scales. They range from 0 to 10 in the same categories as the 4Cs but require far less explanation.
In terms of hue, any diamond that is “colorless” will land between 0 and 1. A diamond that is “nearly colorless” is between 1.5-3, slightly colorful from 3.5-4.5, very lightly colorful from 5-7, and brown or yellow to the eye between 7.5 and 10.
Fancy-colored diamonds are a completely different beast — we’ll tackle those soon. They are designated from best quality to least as very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy dark, fancy intense, fancy deep, and fancy vivid. A fancy-colored diamond has a darker and deeper hue than a regular Z-graded diamond on the color scale.
There are so many different types of colored diamonds, and over time they’ve been separated into categories based on value, makeup, and of course, hue. In fact, they are inherently rarer than regular diamonds.
How Are Colored Diamonds Formed?
Diamonds acquire their color in unique ways. Each color is made by a different combination of chemical interactions, in particular an interruption in the normal carbon atoms of the stones. For example, yellow diamonds are created by nitrogen impurities. Blue diamonds come about when there are boron impurities involved.
Synthetic vs. Fancy Diamonds
Fancy color diamonds are in a league of their own. They have rich colors or more intense colors than Z-rated standard diamonds (they are usually a very pale yellow or brown). As we mentioned previously, this scale goes from very light to fancy vivid, with the latter being the rarest and most prized. One in 10,000 diamonds has a fancy color present in them.
Synthetic colored diamonds are an alternative to the real deal but make no mistake; they are not naturally mined. The Synthetic Colored Diamond Grading Reports were developed by GIA for these stones specifically.
Now to the good stuff: red diamonds. These are the most prized colored diamonds because they are the hardest to find. Not only that, but they are stunning to look at. They outsell and outvalue any other fancy colored diamonds.
There are between 20 to 30 red diamonds in existence that are high enough quality to be sold and crafted as gemstones.
Where Are Red Diamonds Found?
Since fancy red diamonds are so rare, their findings throughout the world are highly noteworthy. As of right now, red diamonds are known to be mined in Brazil, Africa, Russia, and India. They are most popularly found in the Australian Argyle mines.
Chemical Makeup and Creation
Unlike the other colored diamonds, red diamonds are made from carbon and disfigured atoms that allow for a unique pattern of light to bounce around. They don’t have any impurities in boron or nitrogen.
The 4Cs still help to guide the grading for a red diamond, apart from its color ranking. It is graded based on its clarity, its cut (typically brilliant to show off all of its hue and reflective light), and carat weight.
Price and Value
Rarity usually informs price. In 1990, a 13.90 carat Brazilian, fancy red diamond was found — the Moussaieff Diamond. It sold around a decade later at about $8 million after it was cut down to 8.79 carats.
Red Gemstones: Meaning
Red gemstones are beloved for what they represent. They are most commonly associated with the heart for their bright red color and likeness to blood, too. This connects them to health also and bridges a gap in the symbolism of longevity and wellness protection.
There is an association between the color red and love. Red diamonds can make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone. They symbolize intense emotion and could be gifted in an engagement ring, too, if you’re in search of something particularly different.
Make No Mistake
One of the only downsides to red diamonds is that they can mimic the appearance of other famous gemstones. Most notably, they look like rubies which can be a bit confusing for some shoppers. Rubies are known to have been confused throughout their history, with the Prince’s Ruby in the famous Imperial State Crown actually being a rubellite!
At Mark Henry, we love the rubellite for its royal aura and how it creates stunning collections.
Other Colored Diamonds We Love
Red diamonds are certainly not the only fancy colored diamonds that are loved by the public, despite being the rarest. They share many of their qualities, including saturation and beauty, with other colored diamonds.
Some of the most exquisite fancy colored diamonds are green. This gem assumes its gorgeous shade from irradiation after it has already been fully created. Pink diamonds are also found in the Australian Argyle mines.
While brown and yellow diamonds are not always favored, they can certainly come in memorable tones. Yellow diamonds that exceed the Z color scale slot, especially those that are canary yellow, are fairly valuable. These occur when internal nitrogen in the gemstone never connects, separating it from fainter hues.
Brown diamonds were rebranded in desirable names like champagne, chocolate, and cognac and are now pretty popular.
The best way to make sure you’re getting what you pay for, especially if you’re not highly educated on colored diamond ratings, is to ask for certification. Any reputable jeweler or private seller will happily hand the document over. If you have to investigate independently, refrain from dropping the big bucks until you can get a GIA or International Gemological Institute approval.
If you’re paying out of pocket for the grading report, you’ll probably have to shell out $30 or so for each .25 carat. Diamonds above or exactly one carat will cost you over $85. As easy as it can be to want to skip this stage, we promise you it is worth the additional cost.
The good news is that every piece of Mark Henry jewelry automatically comes with the necessary certification for optimal peace of mind.
Pick Your Color
While red diamonds are the rarest option, make sure that you don’t miss what’s most important: you have options! If red isn’t your style, you’re lucky. You're far more likely to get your hands on a yellow or blue diamond first.
However, the next time that you go in search of a certain colored gemstone, we recommend that you check all the gemstone world has to offer.
The Magic of Colored Diamonds | GIA
Buying Guide: Coloured Diamonds from Least to Most Valuable | Gemological Association of
5 Fascinating Facts About Red Diamonds | Cape Town Diamond Museum