All About Fancy Color Diamonds

rings  set with fancy yellow diamonds
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This page is all about helping you in your search for fancy color diamonds. 

When buying diamonds over the internet finding a good dealer is going to be the number one priority.

Understanding fancy color diamond terminology will be a close second.

Getting to know the subtle differences in what’s important will be very handy

You’ll be much happier knowing you can clearly identify exactly what you want.

If you are already familiar with the the 4C’s you are off to a good start.

A lot of the same terminology is used when talking about fancy color diamonds.

The terms you’ll come across which apply exclusively to fancy color diamonds will be covered in this article.

Fancy Color Diamonds

Fancy Color Diamond Terms


You may be surprised to find that there are 27 different color hues.

This is because pretty much the full color spectrum has to be covered.

Here is the list.

  • Red,
  • Orangish-Red,
  • Reddish-Orange,
  • Orange,
  • Yellowish-Orange,
  • Yellow-Orange,
  • Orange-Yellow,
  • Orangish-Yellow,
  • Yellow,
  • Greenish-Yellow,
  • Green-Yellow,
  • Yellow-Green,
  • Yellowish-Green,
  • Green,
  • Bluish-Green,
  • Blue-Green,
  • Green-Blue,
  • Greenish-Blue,
  • Blue,
  • Violetish-Blue,
  • Bluish-Violet,
  • Violet,
  • Purple,
  • Reddish-Purple,
  • Red-Purple,
  • Purple-Red,
  • Purplish-Red.

A modifying color may also be used when describing stones that have a blend of more than one of the above hues or are deemed to be impure hues. These modifiers may be colors not listed above such as Champagne or Olive.

Fancy color Diamonds


Colored diamonds are graded according to nine different intensity levels. Every color has each one of the nine grades.

For example, the color intensity grades for yellow diamonds include:

  • Light (X)
  • Light (Y)
  • Light (Z)
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid
  • Fancy Deep
  • Fancy Dark

What are Cape Diamonds?

Cape diamonds are yellow diamonds in the M to Z color range.

Since X, Y and Z colors are fancy colors, Cape diamonds range from the middle of non fancy color diamonds color grades to the first three fancy color intensities.

GIA Research scientists C.M. Breeding and J.E. Shigley, explain about cape diamonds in their 2009 article published in Gems & Gemology  titled “The ‘type’ classification system of diamonds and its importance in gemology,” Summer 2009 G&G, pp 96–111.

Natural yellow type Ia or “cape” diamonds, they explain, are the most common of all colored diamonds.

The article goes on to explain the science behind it. 

Cape diamonds are identified by the type of nitrogen they contain: N3 and N2.

The latter of these produces the characteristic yellow hue, and the N3 produces blue luminescence often observed in these stones.

Which fancy colors are the most valuable?

Pink Diamonds

When Rio Tinto donated a US$12 million diamond to the Melbourne Museum people flocked to have a look.

It was an extremely rare diamond, and at the time the largest pink diamond they had ever found.

It was a whopping 8.1 carats.

Pink diamonds are already extremely rare. For every 3,500 gem quality diamonds found only 1 will be a pink diamond.

Pink diamonds are almost all found in Australia.

During operation the Australian Argyle mine said that about 75 per cent of Argyle pink diamonds were less than a quarter of a carat.

These tiny diamonds would sell for anywhere between $100,000 to $200,000 each.

Since the mine’s closure the price for pink diamonds has only gone up making pink diamonds a viable investment instrument for many savvy investors.

Pink diamonds are the most compact investment one can make when comparing physical assets.

Blue Diamonds

Another fancy diamond color that performs well as an investment is fancy blue.

Fancy Intense Blue and Fancy Vivid Blue are the two hues that have been shown to perform the best among all the blues when considering diamonds as an investment.

The larger the diamond the better the return on investment.

The Best Cuts for Yellow Diamonds

There is an important difference between a yellow diamond and a clear/colorless one.

Colored stones are cut in a different way to achieve maximum beauty.

While colorless diamonds are cut to maximize brilliance, fancy yellow diamonds are cut to show the diamond’s inner color.

Yellow diamonds are all about exposing the color from within. This is why yellow diamonds are cut in a way that enables the stone to preserve light as long as possible.

It is done this way to strengthen the color before light is returned to the eye of the beholder.

As the shape of a diamond affects how well the light reflects, you will generally see certain shapes more among yellow diamonds than you would with a colorless stone.

For example, the most common shape for a colorless diamond is the round brilliant. This displays its brilliance in the most ideal way.

Modified cushion cut fancy yellow diamond

When it comes to yellow diamonds, it is easier for a diamond polisher to bring out the color in shapes that don’t return light quite so pointedly as do round brilliant or princess cuts.

Cuts such as cushion, radiant, or pear shape are much better shapes for bringing out intense fancy colors whether yellow, blue, pink, green and so forth.

The Best Settings For Fancy Color Diamonds

Typical Settings for Yellow Diamonds

If you want your fancy color yellow diamond to truly glow then you will want to pay close attention to the settings recommended by jewelers who specialize in fancy color diamonds.

Engagement ring settings are mostly made for colorless diamonds. These can be mass-produced and are often able to be used without modification to set the stone.

Yellow diamonds require more customization.

The setting will be built around the stone.

This will ensure that your diamonds is properly mounted to maximise the color of the diamond.

While custom settings are much coslier than mass produced settings you may wonder if this will blow out the budget.

The good news is that color diamonds are increasing in popularity. Manufacturers are implementing more cost effective methods of displaying fancy colored stones efficiently without needing to have a custom ring designed.

Talk to your jeweler or ring setter to find out what metal they recommend would go well with the tone and shape of your stone.