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What are Colored Diamonds?

While the color aspect of the 4Cs applies to white diamonds only, diamonds come out of the earth—or the lab—in a range of different colors. Diamonds are traditionally valued based on their absence of color unless they’re classified as fancy-colored diamonds. Then, the more color, the better.

If you’re looking for a unique alternative to the traditional white diamond, explore colored diamonds, how they are made, and what to look for in a quality stone.

How are Colored Diamonds Made?

Colored diamonds can be natural or lab created. They are both formed from carbon undergoing extreme heat and pressure. While most diamonds come out white or “colorless,” sometimes a chemical reaction or a contaminant can lead to fancy-colored diamonds in a range of hues. Stones with vivid colors are much rarer and, therefore, more expensive.

It’s important to remember that while almost every diamond technically has a color grade, the “color” referred to in the 4Cs is different from a colored diamond.


White or colorless diamonds are the most common, but with the development of lab-created diamonds, it’s becoming possible to grow colored diamonds instead of just hoping they come out of the earth that way. There is a wide range of diamond colors available that vary in rarity. Here’s what to know about some common diamond colors and how they are made:
Yellow Colored Diamonds


Although many colorless diamonds have a yellow tinge, a yellow diamond is unmistakably yellow. Created by higher levels of nitrogen, yellow diamonds range from light yellow to deep yellow to vivid yellow, also known as a canary diamond. Yellow diamonds increase in price as the color deepens.

Pink Colored Diamonds


Natural pink diamonds are very rare, and most come from a single mine in Australia. Unlike other fancy-colored diamonds, pink diamonds don’t contain impurities from which they derive their color. They are most likely formed after a regular white diamond is subject to even more heat and pressure than usual.

Because of their rarity, natural pink diamonds are the most expensive type of diamond, and the color can range from faint to fancy dark.

Champagne Colored Diamonds


Naturally brown, with a noticeable yellow tint, champagne diamonds can range in hue from light brown to darker shades, resembling the color of champagne. Since they are chosen for their brown hue, champagne or cognac diamonds aren’t as rare as other fancy or colorless diamonds. That makes them more affordable than some of their counterparts.

Black Colored Diamonds


Formed the same way as colorless diamonds, black diamonds aren’t created by chemical impurities. A black diamond is a stone with a higher number of inclusions. While flaws would show up as dark specks on a colorless diamond, when there are a lot of them, it turns the diamond completely black.

The striking look makes the stone rare and desirable, and often used as accent stones. Black diamonds can be naturally created or lab-created with heat treatments to induce the dark color. The natural variety is much rarer and more valuable.

Blue Colored Diamonds


A blue diamond can range from light to deep blue with secondary hues like violet, gray or green. The natural coloring is caused by the presence of boron in the diamond’s carbon structure. Found in only a few mines in the world, natural blue diamonds aren’t heat treated or enhanced, so they are very rare and more expensive than white or some other colored diamonds. The carat weight and color intensity determines their value.

Fancy Colored Diamonds

Colored Diamonds Throughout History

Colored diamonds have existed just as long as white diamonds. The first ever diamond deposits of South Africa produced a yellow fancy-colored diamond which was displayed at the 1867 Paris World Exhibition.

A few famous examples of fancy-colored diamonds include:

Delaire Sunrise

The largest fancy vivid yellow color diamond in the world at over 118 carats. It took a skilled diamond cutter almost a year to analyze and shape the stone into an emerald cut with the highest possible clarity and carat weight.

The Hope Diamond

One of the most famous fancy-colored diamonds, the Hope Diamond, has been cut a few times over the years. Several French kings owned it, and it is now a 45.5 carat dark blue diamond. It currently resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
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