Most Expensive Diamond Colors With Prices
6 Minute Read
Are Colored Diamonds Natural?
Just like colorless diamonds, colored diamonds are formed naturally out of carbon deep below the surface of the Earth at temperatures greater than 1000 degrees Celsius over the course of millions of years. What gives colored diamonds their beautiful, unique colors, though, are changes made to their chemical structure as they form, which alter the way they reflect light and the color our eyes perceive. These small changes are very rare - happening in only 0.1% of all diamonds - but can create spectacular colors spanning the entire color wheel, including pink, purple, red, blue, yellow, brown, and every color in between, all made naturally.
How are Colored Diamonds Priced?
Colored diamonds are graded and priced using the 4Cs: cut, clarity, carat, and color. Cut, clarity, and carat all follow the pricing rules of colorless diamonds, but the color grading is much different. There are nearly 30 base colors, which can be combined to create over 200 unique color combinations. The specific name of the color is determined by a laboratory grader, who examines the base color and any secondary colors. For example, the color of a green diamond with hints of blue would be called a "bluish green." A grader will also evaluate the hue, tone, and saturation of the color in the diamond in order to determine its Fancy Color. This grading is determined by the intensity of the color, and from least to most saturated are graded as faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid, fancy dark, or fancy deep. The deeper and more intense the color, the more expensive the diamond will be.
Red diamonds are the rarest of the colored diamonds, with only 20-30 existing in the entire world. They get their beautiful red color from a rare process during their formation, which changes the crystal structure of the diamond and causes light to pass through it differently than colorless diamonds. This process is so rare, red diamonds are usually only half a carat to a carat in size. Still, their rarity and their intense, crimson color make them the most expensive per carat of all the colored diamonds, and on average will cost over $1 million per carat. The largest red diamond ever sold, weighing 5.11 carats, was bought for $8 million, at $1.6 million per carat. You can shop these rarities at Blue Nile, who offer an expansive selection of colored diamonds for you to choose from.
Blue diamonds get their color from the element boron, which replaces some of the carbon in the diamond crystal structure and can produce anything from a tint of blue to a deep, rich blue color in the diamond. Because they are so rare, there are only a few mines in the world that will mine blue diamonds, and they are located in South Africa, Australia, and India. Although they are less rare than red diamonds, they can grow to be much larger than red diamonds and are often sold for more even though they cost less per carat. That doesn't mean they still aren't pricey, as the average medium toned 1 carat blue diamond can cost $200,000. And just like all colored diamonds, they are more expensive as you increase in color and carat. The most expensive blue diamond ever sold was a 14.2 carat fancy vivid blue diamond, which sold at $3.9 million per carat for a price of $57.5 million. The blue diamond that really takes the cake is the Hope Diamond currently housed at the Smithsonian, weighing in at 45.2 carats and worth an estimated $250 million. You can browse these blue beauties at James Allen, who offer a large assortment of colored diamonds and 360 degree views of each one.
Certain pink diamonds called Argyle diamonds are among the rarest colored diamonds, and are mostly mined by one single mine, the Argyle mine, in Australia. Although their rareness is comparable to blue diamonds, pink diamonds can often be more expensive due to the high demand for their sweet, romantic pink color. These beauties are also a mystery: the cause of their color remains unknown to gem scientists. They are made of pure carbon like colorless diamonds, but are composed of a different crystal structure to reflect the dazzling pink color caught by our eyes. Pink diamonds that are mined outside of the Argyle mine are cheaper than Argyle pink diamonds, but can still quickly blow your budget!
Just like other colored diamonds, the price per carat of pink diamonds can vary greatly due to differences in the diamond's size, color, and clarity. Because of this, a pink diamond's price can range from $10,000 to over $700,000 for a single carat. The most famous pink diamond is called the Pink Star, which weighed in at 59.6 carats, selling for $71.2 million in 2017 at $1.19 million per carat.
Yellow diamonds, along with brown diamonds, are the most common colored diamonds and make up over half the market of colored diamonds. They are still very rare, but their relatively low price and striking color has made them the most in-demand of the colored diamonds. Yellow diamonds get their color from the element nitrogen, which absorbs blue light in the diamond and reflects a stunning yellow color. They are often found with a range of secondary colors, but the most expensive and sought after are Canary Yellow Diamonds, a common term to describe pure fancy yellow diamonds. Because they are less rare, yellow diamonds can cost much less per carat than other colored diamonds. Some light yellow diamonds can even cost less than a colorless diamond of similar size. On average, you can expect to pay $3,000-5,000 per carat on a yellow diamond of decent clarity and color. For a fancy vivid yellow diamond, the price can increase to $8,000-$16,000 per carat. The most expensive yellow diamond ever sold was the Graff Vivid Yellow diamond, which weighed in at a whopping 100.90 carats, ultimately selling for $16.3 million in 2020.
Lab-Grown Colored Diamonds
Colored diamonds are very expensive because of their rarity in nature, but lab-grown colored diamonds can provide a more affordable alternative. Lab-grown diamonds are exactly the same as mined diamonds, but are made under high temperatures in a lab rather than deep in the Earth. This means that the same differences that give some diamonds their color can be recreated in a lab, and a much larger amount can be produced. For comparison, a synthetic 1-carat blue diamond will cost on average $8500, a huge difference from the $200,000 per carat cost of a mined blue diamond. Lab-grown diamonds also have a much lower environmental impact and are guaranteed to be ethically sourced, making them a cheaper and more sustainable alternative. Blue Nile has an extensive collection of lab-grown diamonds, which can make for a stunning and affordable jewelry piece.
Amanda is a student of geological sciences and environmental studies at Tufts University. She grew up hiking and mountain biking in the Bay Area and continues to explore nature and learn about the beautiful gems and minerals it forms in her free time.
Champagne and Brown Diamond Buying Guide – Natural Diamonds with a Hint of Warmth
Black Diamond Buying Guide – Dark & Stunning
Best Diamond Color for Yellow Gold Rings
Green Diamond Buying Guide: Diamonds for the Elite Collector
What is the Best Lap for Polishing Sapphire?
Seven Famous Pearls and Their Histories
Opal Stones and Gems: Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Seven Stunning but Delicate Engagement Ring Stones
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!