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What are the highest quality colored diamonds?

What are the highest quality colored diamonds?

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Diamonds come in a wide variety of colors, with colored diamonds being some of the rarest and most valuable. The highest quality colored diamonds exhibit vivid, pure colors and little to no secondary hues. When it comes to colored diamonds, the most prized colors are red, blue, green, pink, and purple. These fancy colored diamonds get their color from trace elements present during their formation, with red diamonds containing nitrogen and blue diamonds containing boron. The intensity of color, along with factors like cut, clarity, and carat weight, determine the overall quality and value of a colored diamond.

Red Diamonds

Red diamonds are arguably the rarest and most valuable of all colored diamonds. True red diamonds devoid of secondary hues represent less than 2% of all colored diamonds, commanding extremely high prices at auction. The color in red diamonds comes from a lattice defect in the crystal structure, where some carbon atoms are replaced by nitrogen atoms during crystal growth. The nitrogen impurities absorb light in the yellow and green portions of the visible spectrum, transmitting more red light to produce an overall red coloration.

Some key facts about red diamonds:

Cause of Color Nitrogen impurities
Rarity Less than 2% of colored diamonds
Value per Carat $1 million to over $3 million

The more saturated and pure the red color, the higher the value of the diamond. Secondary hues like purple and orange can diminish value in red diamonds. The most prized red diamonds have a strong fluorescence that enhances the red color under ultraviolet light. Some famous red diamonds include the Moussaieff Red (5.11 carats), the Kazanjian Red Diamond (5.05 carats), and the De Young Red (5.03 carats). The largest known red diamond is the 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red, which holds the record for the highest price per carat for any gemstone after selling for $8 million at auction in 2001.

Blue Diamonds

Blue diamonds are also exceptionally rare, comprising less than 1% of colored diamonds. Their blue coloration comes from the element boron being present during crystal formation. Boron atoms scatter blue light to produce an overall blue color in diamonds. Blue diamonds range from sky blue to deep grayish-blue in color. The more saturated blue colors are considered more desirable and valuable for collectors.

Here are some quick facts on blue diamonds:

Cause of Color Boron impurities
Rarity Less than 1% of colored diamonds
Value per Carat $1 million to over $3.5 million

Famous blue diamonds include the Hope Diamond (45.52 carats), the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond (31.06 carats), and the Heart of Eternity (27.64 carats). In 2015, the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine sold for a record $48.5 million, or over $4 million per carat. The clarity, depth of color, and size of blue diamonds drive their value at the highest levels.

Green Diamonds

Natural green diamonds are quite rare, comprising just 0.1% of colored diamonds. Their green color comes from exposure to natural radiation in the earth, which alters the diamond’s crystal lattice structure. The intensity of green color can vary widely, from pale olive green to vivid grass green. Secondary hues like yellow, blue and gray are common in green diamonds.

Here are some characteristics of natural green diamonds:

Cause of Color Exposure to radiation
Rarity 0.1% of colored diamonds
Value per Carat $3,000 to over $5 million

The most prized green diamonds have a pure, intense green color without secondary hues. Some famous green diamonds include the Dresden Green (40.70 carats), the Ocean Dream (5.51 carats) and the Aurora Green. Large clear green diamonds with vivid color can fetch over $2 million per carat at auction.

Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds occur more frequently than other fancy colors, comprising about 2% of colored diamonds. The pink color results from crystal lattice deformities caused by intense pressure during formation. Pink diamonds range from light pink to vivid purplish-pink in tone. Intensely saturated pinks are the most valuable and desirable to collectors.

Here is an overview of pink diamond characteristics:

Cause of Color Crystal lattice deformation
Rarity 2% of colored diamonds
Value per Carat $1 million to over $2.1 million

The most prized pink diamonds have pure pink color without secondary hues. Famous examples include the Pink Star (59.60 carats), the Agra Pink (28.15 carats), and the Perfect Pink (14.23 carats). Large vivid pink diamonds over 5 carats can reach over $1.5 million per carat in value. The color intensity, saturation, evenness, and clarity determine the value of top-tier pink diamonds.

Purple Diamonds

Natural purple diamonds belong to a subcategory of pink diamonds, exhibiting a secondary bluish hue. The color results from crystal deformation combined with the presence of hydrogen during formation. Purple diamonds account for just 0.1% of all colored diamonds mined. The degree of saturation and intensity of purple color drives their value and prestige.

Key traits of purple diamonds include:

Cause of Color Crystal deformation and hydrogen
Rarity 0.1% of colored diamonds
Value per Carat $1 million to over $2.5 million

Top examples of purple diamonds include the Royal Purple Heart Diamond (2.17 carats) and the Supreme Purple Heart (5.03 carats). Large vivid purple diamonds with even color distribution can fetch over $2 million per carat at auction. Secondary hues like pink and grayish-blue can diminish value. A pure, strong purple color is the most desirable and priceless trait.

Evaluating Diamond Color Quality

Several key factors determine the quality and value of fancy colored diamonds:

– **Intensity of Color** – Diamonds with the most vivid, saturated colors are considered top quality. Light and dull colors are less valuable.

– **Purity of Color** – Secondary hues like yellow, brown or gray diminish perceived quality. Pure primary colors like red, blue and purple are ideal.

– **Color Distribution** – Consistent color across the entire stone indicates premium quality. Uneven color denotes inferior quality.

– **Fluorescence** – Strong fluorescence enhancing apparent color under UV is desirable for some diamonds like reds.

– **Clarity** – The absence of inclusions and blemishes boosts quality and value.

Evaluating these color factors requires expert gemological assessment. GIA, AGS and other laboratories grade fancy colored diamonds on a consistent scale, providing authoritative reports to benchmark quality.

Highest Quality Examples and Records

Some of the highest quality colored diamonds to ever sell at auction include:

Diamond Color Carat Weight Sale Price
CTF Pink Star Pink 59.60 carats $71.2 million
Blue Moon of Josephine Blue 12.03 carats $48.5 million
Oppenheimer Blue Blue 14.62 carats $57.5 million
Sweet Josephine Pink 16.08 carats $28.5 million
Winston Blue Blue 13.22 carats $23.8 million

These exceptional diamonds attracted enormous auction prices thanks to their extremely rare colors, perfect color saturation, flawless clarity, and large carat sizes. From vivid pinks to deep blues, these record-setting gems represent the pinnacle of colored diamond prestige and value.

Notable Collections

Some of the most impressive colored diamond collections belong to:

– **Smithsonian Institution** – Housed in the National Gem and Mineral Collections, the Smithsonian’s gems include the Blue Heart Diamond, the Red Diamond, and the Hope Diamond.

– **Natural History Museum of Los Angeles** – This museum holds a world-class collection of rare gems including the Winston Blue and the Ocean Dream green diamond.

– **British Natural History Museum** – Home to the famed Dresden Green diamond, the Aurora Green diamond and other prized colored diamonds.

– **GEO X** – The private museum of collector Alan Bronstein displaysnatural yellow, pink and blue diamonds in striking cuts and settings.

These museums hold some of the rarest and most significant colored diamonds, like the Moussaieff Red, the Heart of Eternity blue diamond, and the Supreme Purple Heart. Their collections offer a breathtaking look at the most beautiful diamonds in various hues and colors.

Value Appreciation

The value of top-tier colored diamonds has appreciated enormously over the past decades:

– In 1987, the Hancock Red sold for $926,316 per carat – a record at the time. In 2015, the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine sold for over $4 million per carat.

– Large vivid pink diamonds have gone from $200,000 per carat in the 1980s to over $1.5 million per carat in recent sales.

– Intense blues and purples have climbed from around $500,000 per carat in 2000 to over $2 million per carat today for ideal specimens.

– Annually, the value of the finest colored diamonds has increased 10-15% on average as demand grows. Their extreme rarity ensures this escalation will continue.

This sustained rise makes fancy vivid colored diamonds one of the top performing asset classes, providing strong portfolio diversification and downside protection during market turmoil. As more collectors enter this rarefied market, values will likely continue setting new heights at auction.


Red, blue, green, pink, and purple diamonds represent the pinnacle of the colored diamond market. Their unparalleled rarity, captivating colors, and potential to appreciate in value drive demand from investors and connoisseurs worldwide. While production is extremely limited, the passion for acquiring these natural masterpieces continues growing. For those seeking the best of the best, these vibrant fancy colored diamonds are the cream of the crop.