Most people are familiar with diamonds as a jewellery adornment and as the ultimate symbol of refinement and elegance. These stones have inspired and fascinated over the years, but there is much more to the diamond than its sparkle. As a material, it has astonishing chemical properties and tops the Mohs scale when it comes to hardness. Even the name diamond is derived from the Greek 'adamas', meaning 'unconquerable'.
In fact, there are many ways to define a diamond's quality, from the cut to its clarity and carat weight. But coloured diamonds are some of the rarest and most valuable objects in existence, making up only 1% of world production. Indeed, some of the more famous coloured diamonds have fetched huge prices and bring a great deal of prestige to the wearer as a result.
Also known as 'fancy' diamonds, coloured diamonds are less common than white ones and use a different tiered system, dependent on the intensity of the colour. The following are the five main types of coloured diamonds, their associations and what they say about you.
White or Colourless Diamonds:
The classic white diamond is seen on many engagement rings, such as those found at Selini Fine Jewellery. While coloured diamonds are often more valuable than white ones, instances of colour in white diamonds are less desirable and they have their own GIA 'colour' scale, which ranges from grade D to Z, with D-F being the most highly sought after. Deciding on a white diamond usually means you're a traditionalist, with an eye for restrained and conventional tastes, akin to the timeless elegance of icons such as Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor.
Blue diamonds have been some of the most highly prized in history, most notably the Hope Diamond, a deep grey-blue stone with a complex past. Once part of the French crown jewels, it was stolen in the 18th century and eventually given to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Since the Hope featured in the 1997 film 'Titanic', when it was worn by Kate Winslet, blue diamonds have again excited popular interest but remain a regal choice for their sapphire or ice-like tones. They evoke a strong, self-confident personality and are a status symbol to trump all others.
Pink diamonds had been the rarest of the rare for centuries. They were found in Brazil and South Africa in small quantities and in fairly pale designations until in the late 1970s, when a collection of startlingly pink stones was dug from Western Australia's Argyle mine. Famous pink diamonds include the rose-coloured stone worn by Salma Hayek and Jennifer Lopez's heart-shaped engagement ring, showing the pink stones have continued to capture couple's imagination. The romance of the pink stone is enduring, with its reputation for rarity lending a delicate and feminine style to the wearer.
The iconic Dresden Green Diamond is thought to have originated in India, but was bought in 1743 at Leipzig by Frederick Augustus II and duly christened after the capital of Saxony. This is still the largest green diamond ever recorded and its pure apple-like hue is due to exposure to radioactive materials when in the rock bed. Unlike white diamonds, it's the intensity of the colour which determines the value with coloured diamonds such as this one, from 'Faint' to 'Fancy Vivid'. The owner of a green diamond is seen as a unique character, a trend-setter rather than a follower.
Famously acquired by Tiffany of New York, the diamond known thereafter as the Tiffany Yellow was found in the late 19th century in South Africa and has a characteristic canary hue. It's been viewed by Chinese viceroys and made appearances at Rhode Island balls but it was in the 1961 film poster for Breakfast at Tiffany's where this stone truly shone. Today, celebrities from Whoopi Goldberg to Julianne Moore have been seen sporting yellow diamonds, but it's often to the vintage glamour of Audrey Hepburn that the buyer of the canary gem aspires and with it a certain independence and quirkiness of spirit.
While the right angle and depth of the cut can make a diamond shine with brilliance and a perfect grade of clarity is seen as the ultimate in white-diamond terms, coloured diamonds are becoming more and more prestigious in the current climate. The demand for yellow, pink and blue varieties is especially high, meaning there are often not enough pieces to match buyers.
Celebrity trends for coloured diamonds are keeping the stones firmly in the limelight and blues still go for over sixteen million pounds at auction, while an exhibition featuring the rare Argyle pinks was held in London only last year. The natural beauty of these dazzling stones makes it obvious to all who view them that the popularity of coloured diamonds only looks set to increase.
Janet Longbourne makes her own jewellery and is a qualified silversmith, but it's her interest in the history of precious stones which has led to her to contribute to several jewellery-design blogs. When she's not writing, she looks to sites such as Selini Fine Jewellery for inspiration for her next hand- made pieces.