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Ask a Diamond Pro: Choosing a Fancy Color Diamond From James Allen

By Mike Fried,

Every month, we receive hundreds of emails from readers interested in receiving our help with choosing a diamond. The overwhelming majority of these emails focus on white diamonds, or colorless diamonds. 

However, we also receive a lot of messages about fancy color diamonds — diamonds that have a fancy pink, yellow, red, brown or other color tone.

Buying a fancy color diamond adds an additional variable to the process of finding and selecting the right diamond, which can make things more complicated. As such, it’s no surprise that many readers would like a little extra help making sure they’ve picked the right stone. 

Recently, we received an email from a reader who originally had their eye on a dark gray pear shaped diamond, but changed their mind after they had a chance to consider their options. 

Here’s the reader’s email:

“I wanted to ask your advice on a fancy color diamond that I am thinking of purchasing. 

Here is the link: www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/fancy-color/gray/pear-shaped/0.74-carat-vs1-clarity-sku-1036869

Overall, what are your thoughts? What color does it look like to you? Would it sparkle in normal light, or is it just going to appear really dark? 

What can you tell me about pear shaped diamonds and in particular, the way this one is cut? Is it a good cut? 

Would you recommend a halo setting, and if not, what would you recommend? I have pretty petite fingers and am a little afraid of it being too large with a halo. What metal would you recommend? I prefer yellow gold, but am unsure how that would look. 

Any expert advice would be appreciated. Thanks!”

These are all excellent questions. When it comes to fancy diamond color, it’s just as much about personal preference as it is what is “good” or “bad.” If you like a dark gray color, a diamond such as this can look absolutely stunning. 

As for choosing a pear shaped diamond, we recommend prioritizing cut quality first, then picking  a diamond with eye-clean clarity (typically in the SI1 or SI2 range for optimal value) and color in the H range or better.

This particular diamond looks stunning, and would be a great choice. However, after the first few emails, this reader sent us another diamond in a totally different color and shape — a radiant cut diamond with a pink-brown color

We’ve gone into more detail about picking a diamond in this shape, as well as the basics of how to choose a fancy color diamond, below. 

gray diamond and pink-brown diamond
Gray diamond (left) vs. pink-brown diamond (right)

Choosing the Right Radiant Cut Diamond

The radiant cut is known for its excellent brilliance and durability. Designed in the late 1970s, the master diamond cutter Henry Grossbard created the radiant cut to combine the unique shape of the emerald cut with the brilliance of the round cut.

There are four key advantages of the radiant cut:

  1. The first is that it offers excellent brilliance as a result of its unique facet pattern. In fact, the brilliance and light performance of the radiant cut are second only to those of the round brilliant cut. 
  2. The second is the radiant cut’s excellent durability. Despite being a square diamond shape, the radiant cut has beveled corners, which prevent it from chipping — a common issue for square or elongated diamonds.
  3. The third is its value. Because the radiant cut uses a large percentage of the diamond rough as it’s cut, it costs less per carat than many other popular diamond shapes.
  4. Finally, the large surface area of the radiant cut means it looks larger than some of the other diamonds of the same carat weight. Put simply, a 1 carat radiant cut diamond will appear larger to the eye than a 1 carat round brilliant cut. 

Put simply, the radiant cut is a good choice of shape for multiple reasons, making it a particularly appealing option for this reader. 

This reader’s choice of radiant cut is excellent, and a key part of this is their focus on cut quality and clarity.

Like other fancy shape diamonds, the radiant cut doesn’t come with a clearly defined cut grade from the GIA. This means that you’re largely on your own when comparing radiant cut stones to assess cut quality.

We typically recommend choosing a radiant cut diamond within the following parameters (or as close to these as possible):

  • A table of 61 to 69 percent
  • A depth of 61 to 67 percent
  • A very thin to slightly thick girdle
  • No culet

With fancy color diamonds, your options are often limited (for example, there are only a fraction as many nicely cut fancy brown radiant cut diamonds as there are colorless ones), so it’s alright to choose a diamond that’s ever so slightly outside this range.

This reader’s choice of diamond looks excellent. It’s slightly deeper than optimal and does have a thicker-than-ideal girdle, but in this case, these don’t distract from the diamond’s beauty. 

It also has eye-clean clarity, meaning it’s free of inclusions that are visible to the human eye in a “real-life” setting (meaning outside the bright lighting and magnification of a lab). 

As we often say, there’s absolutely no reason to overpay for flawless clarity. After all, you wear a diamond ring on your finger, not under a jeweler’s loupe. If a diamond looks free of inclusions in normal lighting, no extra value is offered by a higher clarity grade. 

Selecting a Fancy Color Diamond

Choosing a fancy color diamond is a complex topic, as there are so many factors, both objective and subjective, to discuss. 

Brown diamond hue range

We’ve covered many of these in our guide to fancy color diamonds, which discusses everything from the “four Cs” of fancy color to color grading.

This reader appears to like deep colors, and the fancy brown diamond they picked from James Allen is an excellent choice. It’s more versatile than the fancy dark gray in their original choice, and will pair more beautifully with yellow or rose gold.

Our Recommendation

In the end, this reader went with the fancy pink-brown diamond from James Allen and paired it with a simple but elegant cable band in rose gold. Their ring looks stunning, and the diamond shows a range of color tones in different lights. 

When choosing a radiant cut diamond, it’s important to prioritize cut quality first, then choose a diamond with a color grade of H or above (for a white diamond) and a clarity grade that gives it an eye-clean appearance.

You can often find an eye-clean radiant cut diamond in the SI1 or SI2 range (or, to be safer, the VS1/VS2 range), meaning there’s no need to overspend for a VVS clarity diamond. 

As for color, this part of the process is equal parts quality and taste. Select a diamond that looks good to you, be it a deep brown like this reader, a canary yellow diamond or a stone that’s fancy intense pink. 

Because of the complexity of buying a fancy shape, fancy color diamond, it’s perfectly normal to get some help with the process.

If you’d like us to help you find the right diamond for your tastes and budget, feel free to contact us to talk to our expert team. We’re happy to help you compare diamonds (or get feedback on a diamond you’ve found) to ensure you get the highest quality diamond at the best possible price.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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