Trends & Fashion
Pretty in Pink
Natural Pink Diamonds Get Noticed
Pink is one of the rarest colors of natural diamonds found on earth and, as a result, they tend to be very expensive. Despite the price tag (or perhaps because of it), a recent upswing in their desirability has placed these gems at center stage. As popular as they have become, however, the precious pinks are sometimes misunderstood.
What are “natural pink diamonds”?
A “natural” diamond is grown in the ground in a natural geological event. A “synthetic” diamond is grown in a laboratory by humans. Both natural and synthetic diamonds can be pink, although synthetic pink diamonds are fairly small (under ½ ct.); both are composed of an exceptionally pure form of carbon atoms arranged in a stacked cubic pattern.
The term “enhanced” implies that the color of a stone has been artificially induced and can be applied to natural or synthetic diamonds. Simulants, or imitations, are not made of the same chemical composition (carbon) as natural or synthetic diamonds.
Where do natural pink diamonds come from?
Pink diamonds are, for the most part, mined in Australia, as well as certain areas of Africa, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. The largest and most well-known producer is the Argyle mine, located in north-western Australia, which supplies approximately ninety percent of the world’s supply of natural pink diamonds.
That supply, however, is very limited. In one year, Argyle mined more than 25 million carats of rough diamonds. Of those, only about 10,000 carats were pink. Furthermore, only 10% of those pinks weighed more than 0.20ct.
Why do so many natural pink diamonds look different?
Unlike near-colorless diamonds, which are graded for absence of color, pink diamonds are graded on the basis of purity and intensity of color. There isn’t just one shade of pink. There are many different “tones” within this class of diamonds. Actually, many colored diamonds have one or two secondary or modifying colors, as well. In pink diamonds, the most commonly occurring secondary modifiers are purple, orange, brown, and gray (i.e., a “purplish-pink” diamond). Even if two diamonds are both deemed to be fancy pink, they can have very different tones (such as a warm appearance versus a cooler look).
Very few mines are able to produce a perfectly balanced “baby pink” color. The purple shades are found more often in African alluvial production (from river sediments) instead of a specific mine. Brazil is known for its brownish hues, which are similar to the purples in that they do not originate from any one given mine.
The full spectrum of saturations runs as follows; faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy dark, fancy deep, and fancy vivid. The most common grades assigned to pink diamonds are fancy (which accounts for about one-third of all pinks) and fancy intense (which accounts for about one-fifth of all pinks mined). Fancy vivid pink diamonds are the rarest of them all.
“Because much of the marketplace has been buying colorless and near-colorless diamonds . . . the public knows very little about diamonds of color,” says Bruno Scarselli, partner of Scarselli Diamonds in New York City. Natural color diamonds cannot be judged in the same way as colorless diamonds, according to Scarselli. The most important factors are the brightness of a stone’s hue and its intensity of color.
Why have natural pink diamonds become so popular?
Although they have been mined for centuries and used regularly in fine jewelry since the discovery of the Argyle Mine in Australia in the late 1970s, there has been an even greater emphasis placed on pink diamonds in the past seven years.
Natural pinks really took off in 2002, when actor Ben Affleck presented pop star Jennifer Lopez with a $2.5M ring from Harry Winston that sported a 6.1 carat heart shape cut natural pink diamond.
The trend continued with pro athletes in 2003 when Kobe Bryant bought his wife a $4M 8 carat purple diamond, while David Beckham purchased a $1.8M 10 carat pink diamond for his.
Another widely publicized purchase occurred in 2004; singer Enrique Iglesias bought his longtime girlfriend, tennis ace Anna Kournikova, a $5.4M ring consisting of a pear shape 11 carat natural pink diamond, framed by two hefty side stones.
Aside from celebrities, who’s buying natural pink diamond jewelry?
Brand-name customers have become accustomed to the regular use of color, as the major fashion labels – such as Versace, Gucci, and Missoni – have moved beyond basic blacks and neutrals. As fashionistas embrace a wide variety of hues both in apparel and in accessories, the general awareness about natural color diamonds is spreading quickly.
“In the last 2 years or so,” Scarselli discloses, “we have started to receive phone calls from retailer outlets (that are not necessarily in major metro areas) of people looking to buy pink diamonds that are up to 1/4 carat. These customers are willing to put $25K on a credit card for something new.”
What do natural pink diamonds cost?
The price of natural pink diamonds is difficult to pin down. It can cost six to seven figures per carat to obtain a diamond of this kind. At a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva on May 12, 2009, a 5.29 carat pear shape fancy intense pink diamond, flanked by shield shape stones, sold for a staggering 2,26,500 CHF (roughly more than $2M USD).
In April 20, 2010 at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sales in New York, a Radiant cut diamond 7.67ct fancy intense pinkish orange internally flawless was sold for 3,106,500 USD, approximately $404,000 per carat.
Of course, there’s a big difference between “cost” and “value.” Larger stones are exceedingly scarce, adding to their value. Scarselli estimates that “a three to four carat fancy intense pink diamonds may only come out of the Argyle mine once or twice a year.”
Another factor that comes into play is a natural pink diamond’s shape. We see more radiant cut, pear shape and oval shapes. Emerald cut, Asscher cut and Round Brilliant cuts are rare. “If you wish to buy a Round Brilliant pink, it needs to be bigger in order to show the color face up,” reports Scarselli. “Beside the fact that it is nearly impossible to find a 1 carat fancy pink that is round, that particular item will be far, far, far more expensive . . . and a customer might not even be happy with the faint color displayed by that diamond.”
What does the future hold for natural pink diamonds?
In years to come, the fate of natural pink diamonds appears rosy. Because color represents such a minute portion of all the diamonds out there, these types of diamonds will probably end up owned by lucky individuals who can appreciate the color and rarity of a pink diamond, and be stored in the vaults of both collectors and investors.
Famous Pink Diamonds
1. In the sixteenth century, the largest pink diamond ever found was unearthed from the alluvial diamond fields near Golconda, India. Called the “Darya-i-Nur” (Sea of Light), this pale pink behemoth weighs between 175 and 195ct. and resides in the Crown Jewels of Iran.
2. The “Grand Conde,” a 9.01ct. pear shape fancy pink diamond, was given to the French general Louis II de Bourbon in 1634, after the battle of Rocroi. In 1886, a royal descendant of his gave the stone to the Institut de France, which has housed it ever since.
3. Named after the Canadian geologist who discovered the Mwadui kimberlite pipe in Tanzania, the 23.60ct. flawless Round Brilliant cut “Williamson” was certainly fit for a queen. In 1947, Elizabeth the II of Great Britain received this pastel pink diamond as a wedding gift, which was set into a Cartier brooch that she still wears today.
4. The second largest natural pink diamond in the world, the approximately 60ct. “Nur-ul-Ain” (Light of the Eye), served as the centerpiece on the wedding day tiara of the former Iranian Empress Farah Dibas, designed by Harry Winston in 1958.
5. After a painstaking 20 months, the “Steinmetz Pink” was unveiled in 2003. At nearly 60ct., it is the largest diamond with a vivid pink rating. It has since been worn by supermodel Helena Christensen and actress Jenna Elfman.
6. In 2008, just after the Supreme Court of California (temporarily) lifted the ban on same sex unions, comedian Ellen DeGeneres proposed to actress Portia de Rossi with a Neil Lane ring bearing a 3ct. marquis cut natural pink diamond.