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Should I Consider Color Diamonds in an Engagement Ring?

Diamonds come in every color — but is anything but the traditional white the right choice for an engagement ring?

Most of the time, diamonds are valued for their lack of color. “Colorless” diamonds receive the highest grades (D-F) on the scale used by some gem laboratories to classify diamond color.

Color diamonds have associations attached to them. Some people believe red diamonds symbolize true love and strength, while yellow signifies selflessness, caring and calm.

But diamonds actually occur in many different colors in nature, and some of the most valuable diamonds in the world are anything but white. The Hope Diamond, a 45-ct. blue diamond on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is the second-most-visited piece of art in the world, after the Mona Lisa. An emerald-cut, 24-ct. fancy intense pink diamond ring set the record for the most money paid for a jewel at auction — more than $46 million for a single ring at Sotheby’s in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2010.

Color diamonds are becoming popular choices these days for diamond engagement rings, thanks to celebrities flaunting their own colorful beauties in fashion magazines and at award shows. Is a color diamond the right choice for you? Read on to learn why you might consider color as a diamond choice for your engagement ring — and options for finding prices that won’t set records.

Understanding color diamonds

Diamonds come in a wide range of bright and beautiful colors — from red and pink, to green, violet and blue, to yellow, brown and black. “Fancy” colors such as red, blue and green are extremely rare in nature, and will carry staggering price tags. Fancy colors have nine saturation levels — the deepest being the most valuable — and this will affect price. From lightest to most saturated they are:

  • Faint
  • Very light
  • Light
  • Fancy light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy dark
  • Fancy deep
  • Fancy intense
  • Fancy vivid

Yellow diamonds (and brown and black ones) are a bit more complicated. Through the years, royalty and Hollywood legends sported gorgeous yellow diamonds. These vivid yellow diamonds are sometimes called “canary,” though that’s really a marketing term and not used by labs or appraisers. Most yellow and brown diamonds had been considered commoner cousins to the more valuable colorless or near-colorless diamonds.

However, in recent years, diamond companies have found ways to rebrand yellow, brown and black diamonds — turning brown diamonds into “cognac” and “champagne,” and labeling yellow as “sun” or “golden” and capturing the desire of celebrities who want a head-turning jewelry look. Yellow, brown and black diamonds are also now hot items, thanks to celebrities, musicians and models. 

Is a color diamond the right choice for an engagement ring?

Veering away from the traditional white diamond might be an option for you as you select your bride-to-be’s engagement ring. Think about color if:

Your fiancée is fashion-forward or likes to be unique.

Sophisticated and fashion-forward color combinations, such as a cognac or Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds® in rose gold, will set your fiancée apart from the crowd. Study her style for clues. If she loves color in general, and has a flair for distinctive fashion or artful accessories, she may adore a color diamond. 

She’s drawn to glamour and romance

She loves old movies, is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of old Hollywood, and is hopelessly fascinated by watching the royals. A color diamond may be just the thing to infuse a little glamour into her everyday life. 

She has a signature color

Is she pretty in pink? Does she have spectacular green eyes? Or does yellow or orange look especially beautiful on her based on her skin tone? If there’s a color she tends to wear as a badge, an engagement ring that sports a diamond of that color will be a home run.

You want a color that has meaning

Color diamonds have all sorts of associations attached to them, just like color gemstones. There are different interpretations based on whom you ask. But for example, some people believe red diamonds symbolize true love and strength, while blue can communicate tranquility and peace, and yellow signifies selflessness, caring and calm. As a couple, you might be looking for something that symbolizes your relationship or your fiancée as a person. A color diamond can help you do that.

Buying a color diamond affordably

If you’ve decided a fancy-color diamond is the only choice for your engagement ring, you don’t need to book a flight to Switzerland or Paris to shop the big auction houses. An affordable option is to shop for color-enhanced diamonds.  

Color-enhanced diamonds are natural diamonds that have been treated in some way to change their color. A treatment called high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) mimics the environment underground in which natural fancy color diamonds are formed, and turns some yellowish diamonds into a more vivid colors (HPHT can also turn some yellow and brown diamonds into near-colorless). Some diamonds are irradiated to enhance their colors, while others are just heat treated.

If you want an affordable fancy-color diamond, look for diamonds that have modifiers to the base colors. A fancy light yellowish brown is an example — it’s a fancy light brown diamond with yellow overtones. However, some modifiers may increase a stone’s value.

But rest assured you can tickle your fiancée pink with a color diamond engagement ring that rolls out the red carpet for your life ahead together.

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