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pink-roundNatural pink diamonds are some of the world’s rarest and highly sought diamonds. The Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia is the world’s foremost source of pink diamonds but even then only a handful is mined each year. Other countries of origin include Borneo, South Africa, Brazil and India. Pink diamonds are expensive because they are scarce.

pink-cushionMost pink diamonds mined are faint to light colored (Pastel colored) with the the deep colored pink extremely rare. Common names include: bubble gum, strawberry, raspberry, rose, wine, baby, blossom, and cotton candy.

It was not until 1979, when Australia discovered a small vein of pink diamonds that things really got exciting. Instead of being faint or light pink, these new diamonds are hot pink. They are producing about a 100 carats a year. The majority of gems are under one carat. In 1989, the Australian mine, Argyle, sold two pinks over 3 carats. It is rumored these stones were sold for $700,000 per carat. Expect to pay over $100,000 per carat for a carat size pink.

pink-oval-diamondThe extreme scarcity of pink diamonds has meant that only a privileged few have owned them in the past. It is this scarcity, coupled with their beauty that has made them a high-demand item at the world’s top jewelry auctions. In 1994, Christie’s in Geneva sold a 19.66 ct Fancy pink for $377,483 per carat (about $7.4 million). In 1995, Sotheby’s sold a 7.37 ct Fancy Intense purplish pink for $818,863 per carat, or just over $6 million. These are among the highest prices ever paid for gemstones.

Of course, the rarity of color affects prices. The pricing of pink and red diamonds is rarely disclosed in public, though it’s not uncommon to be hundreds of thousands of dollars per carat. A 0.95-ct. purplish red diamond was sold at auction in 1987 for close to a million dollars, for example.

The description of colored diamond color is comprised of three elements.

Hue is the attribute of color such as red, yellow, or blue. A diamond’s predominate hue is expressed as a noun, such as pink. The secondary colors, if any, precede the primary hue and are expressed as adjectives with an “ish” at the end, such as fancy purplish pink. A grade with two nouns like brown pink indicates the two colors are close to even in the diamond. The GIA grades hue of color in three common ranges (sorted high value to low):

  • Purplish Pink
  • Pink
  • Orangy Pink

Tone gives the relative lightness to darkness of a hue. The GIA uses seven steps of tone:

  • 2 – Very Light
  • 3 – Light
  • 4 – Medium Light
  • 5 – Medium
  • 6 – Medium Dark
  • 7 – Dark
  • 8 – Very Dark

Saturation is the intensity of the color. The level of what is high saturation varies between colors. For example, what a “pastel” pink is Fancy and is much less intense than a Fancy yellow. The GIA grades saturation of color by nine different categories:

  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Dark
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Deep
  • Fancy Vivid

The GIA determines a color grade by locating a “color space” defined by its hue, tone and saturation. Once a hue is determined, the diamond is compared to a set of reference stones to locate the grade related to tone and saturation. The terms used for color grading are very specific and are not interchangeable. The color grade for a colored diamonds is the primary key to value.

The cutting and polishing process can have a significant impact on the color grade. The color in many diamonds is composed of color zoning, often with parallel bands of color like steps on a ladder where the area between the steps are near colorless. If diamond cutting is in the wrong direction or removes one of these key color bands, it can lose some or all of its color, which is a disaster with a valuable pink diamond.

High temperature and non-isotopic stress during diamond formation deforms the crystal lattice and displaces many carbon atoms from their normal positions. Hair like graining is also evident in some of them.

pink-round2Some diamonds are irradiated to produce fancy colors, including pink. Pink diamonds that have been colored by irradiation are very cheap compared to natural pink diamonds because they are not rare.

Pink diamonds have always been exceedingly rare. In the 16th and 17th centuries, India was the principal source of pink diamonds. Recently, a famous light pink Agra diamond was sold at auction for almost $7 million. This stone was documented as being a gift to Babur, the first Mogul emperor, from the Rajah of Agra, for sparing his life in 1526. It later belonged to the Duke of Brunswick, the greatest connoisseur of colored diamonds of the 19th century. In 1725, Brazil produced some light pink diamonds. The Star of Brazil is a 128.80 carat rose colored gem, which was cut around 1832 in Amsterdam. An Indian gem collector paid 80,000 British pounds for it in the 1860s. It remains in India today. In 1947, Dr. John Williamson discovered a 23.60 pastel pink round diamond in Tanzania.

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Pink diamonds gained great interest when Ben Affleck adorned Jennifer Lopez’s hand with a large pink diamond. Ever since J. Lo’s engagement, articles about pink diamonds have been popping up in new media everywhere.