Color, Distinction & Rarity: An Exploration of the Pink Diamond

10 minute read

The fancy colored diamond market is one that has gained significant traction in recent years. Fancy colored diamonds - any diamond that is naturally not white - appeal to a range of connoisseurs. In fact, any expert would agree that a colored diamonds allure lies in the mere fact that they can be found in nearly every spectral hue: green, blue, yellow, red, and orange, among many others. However, of all these differing hues, it is those that boast a pink color that have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. This is understandable as their hues that range from light to deep pink most embody a diamond's main job: to be exceptionally and aesthetically beautiful.

The value of pink diamonds is far higher than the majority of all other fancy colored diamonds due to its rarity. The stones represent only approximately 0.03% of the annual production of all diamonds in the world. Compared to the far more common white diamond, a pink diamond's value can be between 10 to 100 times more than a white gem of a similar carat weight and clarity grade. Read more to learn the history and technical aspects of the exceptional pink diamond.

5.25-carat Fancy Pink Diamond 5.25-carat Fancy Pink Diamond

The History of Pink Diamonds

The exact point of origin for these pink gems cannot be exactly determined, as for much for their history, they have been found only sporadically throughout Indonesia, India and Brazil. The earliest documented pink diamonds are the Daria-i-noor and the Noor-ul-ain, both pinnacle gemstones of the Iranian crown jewels. Another famous royal pink is the legendary Grande Conde, a 9.01-carat pink diamond that gets its name from Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, and was once owned by King Louis XIII of France.

The popularity of pink diamonds continued into the mid-20th century, when Queen Elizabeth II was gifted a 23.6-carat pink diamond, set as a jonquil brooch by Cartier. Now in more modern times, the fascination for pink diamonds has prevailed in both pop culture and sensational auction results.

2.58 Fancy Pink Diamond 2.58 Fancy Pink Diamond

Rising Popularity

While the past five years have seen an paralleled and remarkable rise of market value for pink diamonds, this rise was foreshadowed decades prior. In April 1989, a Christie's jewelry sale included ten pink diamonds from Australia's famed Argyle mine. Each achieved a staggeringly high sale price, displaying premiums that had yet to be seen for colored diamonds. Today, market experts agree that this auction signaled the emergence of full-fledged pink diamond connoisseurs.

Fast forward to modern years - CNN christened 2016 as the year of the colored diamond, with pink (along with blue) diamonds reigning over all in market value and sheer popularity. This adoration has continued and surged even further. Inspired by their vibrant color and rarity, the price per carat for pink diamonds has transcended into almost unbelievable values. In April 2017, The Pink Star, a 59.6ct-carat oval mixed-cut fancy vivid pink diamond, sold for a world-record of $71 million. Other pink diamonds did not fall far behind: in 2017, the 24.68-carat Graff Pink Diamond sold for $46 million, which is just over $1.8 million per carat.

The popularity of pink diamonds extends beyond the realm of sensational auction sales and into popular cultural. In 2012, the Argyle Pink Diamonds Company curated and hosted a one-day exhibition in London of the finest 42 pink diamonds in the world. Commemorating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee in 2012, the collection represented what many refer to as “the greatest coming together in one place of pink diamonds.”

The Pink Color

The source of the pink color is often debated in the jewelry world. Whereas the source for other color in colored diamonds is much easier to decipher, the reasons for the pink color is far more elusive. Simply put, the reasoning that experts know so far is quite technical: different defects in crystal lattice structures are caused by the stone's subjection to very high temperatures and non-isotropic stress that displace carbon atoms from their normal positions.

3.05-carat Fancy Pink Diamond 3.05-carat Fancy Pink Diamond

Whatever the exact reason for the hue, the color for pink diamonds is assessed by three characteristics: hue, tone (lightness or darkness), and saturation (the intensity of the color). Like other fancy colored diamonds, there is a range of color for pink diamonds. The range, comprised of each color grade, begins at fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid, and fancy deep. Starting at the left, with fancy light, the saturation and tone increases with each grade. Those pink diamonds with a “deep” color grade embody the darkest tone and highest amount of saturation.

Which color grade is the most desirable? As of now, and how recent history has proved itself, it is those pink diamonds graded as “fancy vivid” that command the highest premiums. Colloquially, experts and connoisseurs refer to these pink diamonds as the “brightest” and “purest” pink hue.

The Cut

Like all other fancy colored diamonds, the cut for a pink diamond is critical to show off, accentuate, and intensify the present color as much as possible.

The modern, choice cut for colored diamonds is typically a mixed-cut.

Presence of a Modifier

The presence of a modifier in any colored diamonds means the presence of a secondary hue. If there is a secondary color, and it occupies 25% or less of the basic body color of the diamond, then it prefaces the basic body color name of the diamond. For example, a pink diamond with a purple modifier is formally called “purplish-pink.” However, if the presence of a secondary hue is at least 50% of the overall stone, the name of the secondary hue prefaces the basic body color of the diamond, but without a “-y” or “-ish.” For example, a diamond that is half purple and half pink is formally called “purple-pink.”

4.05-carat Fancy Intense Orangy-Pink Diamond 4.05-carat Fancy Intense Orangy-Pink Diamond

Common modifiers for pink diamonds are orange, brown, and purple. Each lends a pink diamond a more unique, distinct look.

Mining Regions

At present, the monumental Argyle mines in Australia are the most important and largest source of pink diamonds. In addition, this region is also the most active. In fact, these mines product approximately 90% of the world's supply of pink diamonds. However, industry analytics and research at the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) indicate the impending closure of the Argyle mines on or around the year 2020, as their quantity is nowhere near an endless supply.

Throughout history, however, mines in both Indian and Brazil have produced some of the largest (by carat size) pink diamonds to date.

Often touted as “portable wealth” the rarity and value of pink diamonds cannot go unnoticed.

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