Champagne Diamond Guide
What you need to know about champagne diamonds before buying
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What you need to know about champagne diamonds before buying
Champagne diamonds are a stunning choice if you desire a unique, beautifully colored stone. The brown and yellow tint offers an engagement ring a distinct and appealing look. While some prefer a darker stone like this fancy dark orangy brown diamond from Leibish & Co., others enjoy a lighter shade, like this fancy light brownish stone from James Allen.
When selecting a champagne diamond, you want to consider its color along with its cut quality. These two components impact the beauty more than anything else.
Above all, we recommend purchasing a champagne diamond from a trustworthy seller who offers high-quality photos, like James Allen or Blue Nile. Be sure to review each individual diamond closely before making your selection. If you want help in finding the best champagne diamond for your budget and taste, email our experts.
A champagne diamond is a type of colored diamond that’s naturally brown, with a noticeable yellow tint. They can range in hue from light brown to darker shades, resembling the color of champagne.
These fancy brown diamonds, like other colored diamonds, make for stunning engagement rings and other champagne diamond jewelry like this selection from Leibish & Co.. Their eye-catching color enhances unique pieces that offer plenty of personality. These diamonds gain their color from traces of other elements in the crystal’s structure. Champagne diamonds contain small amounts of nitrogen trapped during diamond formation. The higher the nitrogen content, the deeper the intensity of the brown color.
Champagne diamonds are often referred to as cognac diamonds. While colorless diamonds typically lose their value with increased tint, champagne stones are specifically sought out for their beautiful, natural coloring.
It’s also common for champagne diamonds to be marketed as Chocolate Diamonds. This is a specific brand name used by Le Vian. For the most part, these diamonds are exactly the same as regular champagne diamonds — something we’ve covered in more detail below.
Champagne diamonds are formed and mined in various parts of the world, including Australia, Siberia and Africa. The largest champagne diamond mine is the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia, where other colored diamonds are mined as well, including pink diamonds.
Over the course of billions of years, champagne diamonds are formed with traces of nitrogen in the crystal, causing their signature color. The compression and heat involved also contribute to the formation of these unique gemstones.
Like white diamonds, champagne diamonds rank a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, making them the most durable stones in the world. Champagne diamond jewelry, therefore, is incredibly resilient and great for everyday wear.
Interestingly, champagne diamonds are a fairly recent phenomenon, at least when it comes to engagement rings and other jewelry. As the GIA explains:
“Brown diamonds were typically considered good only for industrial use until the 1980s, when abundant quantities of them began to appear in the production of the Argyle mines. The Australians fashioned them and set them in jewelry. They gave them names like “cognac” and “champagne.” The marketing worked, and brown diamonds are found in many medium-priced jewelry designs today.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
You may be wondering if a colored diamond, specifically a champagne, is rarer and more expensive than a white, colorless diamond. In general, champagne colored diamonds are less rare than colorless diamonds and other fancy colored diamonds. Therefore, the prices of champagne diamonds are significantly less than these diamonds as well.
Popular fancy diamonds, like the yellow canary diamond, are more expensive than brown and champagne diamonds. The price of a champagne stone depends on its carat weight, the intensity of color and its clarity. For example, this yellowish brown 1 carat diamond from James Allen costs $4,110, while this darker brown 1.51 carat round cut stone from James Allen costs $3,800.
Fancy champagne diamonds with no overtones are rarer than those with secondary tints. For example, a famous 69.93 carat champagne diamond called the Golden Pelican is estimated to be valued at $3 million dollars. The Golden Jubilee, another famous champagne diamond presented to the King of Thailand in 1997, weighs 545.67 carats and carries an estimated value between $5-12 million dollars.
As champagne colored diamonds continue to increase in popularity, their prices also increase. However, a wide selection of champagne diamonds like here on Leibish & Co. remains available at reasonable and competitive prices.
Like other fancy diamonds, the price of a champagne diamond hinges primarily on its color intensity, carat weight and cut quality. In general, though, the deeper the color, the higher the price tag.
The beauty and value of champagne diamonds varies greatly, just as with colorless diamonds. The main features to consider are the Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat Weight and Shape.
As with all fancy diamonds, the intensity and shade of color indicate how beautiful and expensive a stone is. Champagne diamonds range in color from light to dark brown like this one from Blue Nile and often carry a secondary hue like orange or yellow. While color preference is based on the individual wearer, the richer the hue, the rarer and more expensive the stone is.
When grading champagne diamonds, gemologists look at three main factors:
Taking into account these three features, champagne diamonds are graded for color quality. The Argyle Mine carries its own grading system for champagne stones, while the GIA and AGS utilize a different scale.
Here is the Argyle Mine grading scale for champagne diamonds:
If your diamond is graded by the GIA (which we recommend), the scale will look different. The GIA doesn’t use the word “champagne” on a grading report. The color might be described as brown, fancy dark brown, fancy yellowish brown or a similar phrase.
If you choose a diamond on the lighter end of the scale with a yellow tint, you may see the following color grades from the GIA:
Because it can be difficult to assess a champagne diamond’s quality, we recommend you reach out to our experts for a second opinion. It’s better to catch a poor purchase before it’s too late.
A diamond’s Cut impacts how much brilliance and fire the stone gives off. In other words, it affects how sparkly the diamond is. The better the cut, the more beauty and, typically, the higher the price.
With champagne colored stones, there aren’t standardized cut options like there are with colorless diamonds. For example, you can opt for an “ideal” cut with a white diamond, but not with a champagne one. Ultimately, it’s up to the diamond cutter to maximize the individual diamond for its unique combination of color, clarity and brilliance.
In darker champagne stones like these from Leibish & Co., brilliance plays less of a role because white light reflection is less visible. With these diamonds, it’s important to consider how the cut impacts the color intensity. If the cut makes the diamond appear richer in hue, then it’s a more desirable cut. On the flip side, a poorly cut champagne diamond may appear uneven in its coloring or may present no brilliance or sparkle—ultimately leaving the stone dull and lifeless.
A diamond’s clarity denotes how clear it is of blemishes and inclusions. The fewer the flaws, the more beautiful and valuable the stone is. When evaluating clarity, we recommend looking for an eye-clean diamond. In other words, to the naked eye, blemishes and inclusions should not be noticeable.
Like colorless diamonds, champagne diamonds are graded on the following scale:
It’s often difficult to find a champagne diamond on the lower end of this scale. Many champagne diamonds have a clarity grading in the range of SI1-I2. You can, however, find some reasonably priced champagne diamonds in the VS (Very Small Inclusions) range.
So while it’s hard to find a champagne diamond without any imperfections, you still want to aim for a diamond that doesn’t have any glaring or distracting inclusions and blemishes.
A diamond’s Carat refers to its weight. A 1 Carat diamond is equal to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. For perspective, a 1 carat diamond weighs roughly the same as a quarter of a raisin.
When choosing a champagne diamond, we recommend spending more of your budget in the areas of Color and Cut. These qualities impact the beauty of champagne diamonds more than any other feature.
A heavier or larger looking stone isn’t necessarily more beautiful. For example, it’s better to purchase an exquisite 1.47 Carat champagne diamond like this one from Blue Nile than a lifeless 3.09 Carat champagne stone from James Allen.
Diamonds can be cut in a variety of shapes. Which shape you prefer is completely up to personal preference.
As we mentioned above, a champagne diamond will usually cost significantly less than a colorless diamond of the same cut quality, clarity and carat weight. This can make a champagne diamond a great choice if you’re looking for a diamond that’s unique and beautiful yet still highly affordable.
For example, this 1.51 carat, SI1 clarity yellow-brown diamond from James Allen is available for $2,470. This H color, SI1 colorless diamond from James Allen of the same cut quality and carat weight is available for $8,220 – a significant premium.
Color intensity can affect the price of a champagne diamond. For example, this 1.84 carat round SI2 orange-brown diamond from James Allen is significantly more expensive (comparing to the light yellow-brown diamond above) at $6,840, or around $3,717 per carat.
If you need help choosing a champagne diamond that’s within your budget, feel free to contact us.
Throughout our years of experience in the diamond industry, we’ve vetted several diamond dealers—both online and bricks and mortar stores. With our consistent pulse on the market, we know which companies you can trust and which ones to avoid.
To ensure you purchase a high-quality champagne diamond at an excellent price, we recommend the following vendors. If you’d like help in choosing the most beautiful champagne diamond for your budget, just email our experts.
Here are the vendors we highly recommend:
If you are in the market for a diamond (white or fancy color like champagne) with a budget over $20,000, Abe Mor is your best bet. Their ability to find the perfect diamond for you and their exquisite custom jewelry pieces blow us away every time.
James Allen have a diverse selection of champagne diamonds in numerous sizes, including a variety of dark brown diamonds. Most of their diamonds come with GIA certification, although some of the smaller fancy brown diamonds only have an IGI certificate.
Because James Allen feature high resolution, color accurate photos for all of their diamonds, it’s easy to compare champagne diamonds for hue, tone and saturation.
Leibish & Co. specialize in fancy color loose diamonds and diamond jewelry. Their selection of champagne diamonds includes some of the highest quality fancy color diamonds on the market, all with GIA certificates.
While Blue Nile don’t specialize in fancy color diamonds like Leibish, they have a large selection of high quality champagne diamonds. Blue Nile’s product photography is consistently excellent, and GIA certificates are provided for the vast majority of their fancy color diamonds.
As we briefly mentioned earlier, it’s common to see brown, champagne diamonds promoted as Chocolate Diamonds®.
“Chocolate Diamond” is a trademark owned by the jewelry company Le Vian. In general, it isn’t a term that’s widely used within the diamond industry by gemologists and other industry experts, except when referring to Le Vian’s products.
Le Vian launched the Chocolate Diamonds range in 2000 and has since positioned Chocolate Diamonds as their proprietary brand of rare, chocolate-inspired fancy color diamonds.
In short, Chocolate Diamonds are a type of branded diamond. As we’ve covered before in our review of Hearts on Fire diamonds, branded diamonds are usually sold at a premium using all sorts of emotional marketing tactics designed to differentiate them from the competition.
In Le Vian’s case, it’s emphasizing the diamonds’ uniqueness – as stated on their website, Le Vian’s original ideas and Chocolate Diamonds “appeal to women who want to have something as unique as they are.”
While there’s nothing wrong with marketing a product by emphasizing its uniqueness, the reality is that diamonds of this type aren’t all that unique.
To source their Chocolate Diamonds, Le Vian choose “less than 5%” of all brown diamonds that are produced by the Argyle Mine in Australia. Specifically, they select brown diamonds that have a rating of between C4 and C7 on the Argyle Mine color scale.
In short, these are diamonds that are rated from medium champagne to cognac in color. Le Vian state that their diamonds must have a certain hue, tone and saturation. They also need to have a clarity of SI (slight inclusions) or higher, meaning they’re eye clean.
While these requirements sound strict, in reality they aren’t particularly restrictive. As we briefly covered above, SI clarity ratings (Le Vian doesn’t specify whether their cutoff is SI1 or SI2) are quite common for champagne diamonds, and are far from the highest levels of clarity.
Like with other branded diamonds, Chocolate Diamonds usually don’t offer very good value for money.
For example, this Le Vian Chocolate Diamond ring from Kay Jewelers is priced at $6,999. The ring has a total carat weight of 1⅜ carats. It features a round Chocolate Diamond center stone, as well as a halo of round white diamonds and numerous other diamonds in a pavé setting.
Ignoring the setting for a moment, let’s look at the center stone. The Chocolate Diamond has a carat weight of 0.5 carat, meaning it accounts for a fairly modest amount of the ring’s total carat weight. While Kay don’t provide a GIA certificate, they rate its clarity as SI2.
In comparison, look at this 0.5 carat fancy dark pink brown diamond from Leibish & Co. Like the Le Vian diamond, it has a clarity grade of SI2. It’s also exactly the same carat weight, although it is cut in a different shape.
This diamond costs $2,100 on its own. In order to compare it to the Le Vian diamond, we need to add it to a setting. Although it’s slightly different in design from the Le Vian setting, this halo, mill-grain diamond ring setting from Leibish & Co. shares its major features and even uses a purer 18k gold.
Together, the complete ring from Leibish & Co. costs $4,650 — significantly less than a Le Vian ring with a Chocolate Diamond of equal clarity and carat weight.
Likewise, this 1.01 carat round, brown diamond from James Allen is double the carat weight of the Le Vian stone, with a higher SI1 clarity grade. It also comes with a GIA certificate, which is important for verifying its grading.
In this 14k yellow gold triple row pavé halo engagement ring setting from James Allen, the complete ring costs a total of $3,695, which is just over half the price of the Le Vian Chocolate Diamond ring.
While there are minor differences between these rings — namely, the design of the setting — the general point is still the same: branded diamonds, such as Chocolate Diamonds, usually aren’t the best choice from a value for money perspective.
Champagne engagement rings are growing in popularity, as many celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry proudly show off these unique rings.
Want help in finding the most stunning champagne diamond for your budget? Contact our experts.
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