|Rough Champagne Diamonds
The term "champagne diamond" is used to refer to colored diamonds that range in color from light straw to golden or cognac. Interest in these unusual diamonds has grown as more designers incorporate them into jewelry and celebrities are seen wearing them.
Most consumers are familiar with transparent white diamonds where the absence of any trace of color results in a higher grading for the diamond. It is worth noting that fancy-colored diamonds are evaluated in a slightly different way to traditional white diamonds.
For colored diamonds or fancy-colored diamonds, the intensity of color is the most important factor, with clarity, brilliance and fire holding lesser significance. In fact, many fancy champagne diamonds have been known to fetch incredible prices. For example at a Christie's auction in 2011, Elizabeth Taylor's cognac diamond ring with V-SI clarity fetched over $70 thousand per carat. The color of fancy-colored diamonds is evaluated according to hue (the characteristic color), tone (lightness or darkness of color) and saturation (depth or strength of color).
Diamonds can actually occur in nearly any color, but yellow and brown are by far the most common. In the diamond trade, stones with a yellowish or brownish tone were once regarded as "low colors". Indeed at one time brown diamonds were mainly used for industrial applications.
Brown diamonds only began to be marketed in a serious way after the development of the Argyle diamond mine in Australia in 1986. The Argyle mine produces about 35 million carats of diamonds per year, nearly a third of the total world production. However, about 80% of the diamonds from the Argyle mine are brown. So the industry faced the problem of a very large supply of brown diamonds with only a small demand.
The jewelry industry adopted two strategies for marketing brown diamonds. Since the supply was large, they were offered at a lower price, usually about 30% less than white diamonds. The industry also introduced new color names to make the product more attractive to consumers. Instead of the dull term "brown diamonds", the terms "champagne" and "cognac" were introduced to make the product more alluring.
Champagne diamonds may be substantially more affordable than white diamonds, but they are natural diamonds and display all the virtues of diamond; remarkable hardness (10 on the Mohs scale), a very high refractive index (2.417 - 2.419) and exceptional fire.
It is also worth noting that champagne diamonds are completely untreated. The brown and golden hues of champagne diamonds are produced entirely by nature, in contrast to more vivid diamond colors produced by irradiation or high pressure/high temperature treatment.