Champagne diamonds were not always so popular, as they are today. However, the beauty of these stones together with a good marketing campaign began to make an effect. In this buying guide, you will find out which factors affect the quality and price of champagne diamonds and what to consider to make a smart purchase.
What Are Champagne Diamonds?
Champagne diamonds belong to the family of fancy colour diamonds and range in colour from light to dark brown with a noticeable secondary yellow, pink or orange hue.
The term “champagne diamond” is a result of a brilliant marketing campaign run during the 1980s and early 1990s. Even though these diamonds have a nice colour, brown diamonds were not among the most sought-after gems and they were considered good only for industrial use until the 1980s. That is why the Argyle mine, where many of these diamonds were found, changed the name to something more attractive, Champagne Diamonds, and managed to attract a significant amount of attention. The idea of applying a name that better explains the colour tone increased the desire for these stones.
Brown diamonds, including champagne diamonds, owe their colour to the presence of nitrogen element in their crystal structure, just as it is in the case of yellow and orange diamonds. Due to the way nitrogen atoms are grouped during the diamond’s formation process, the stone absorbs light through structural defects in its crystal structure and creates a brown hue in return. The higher the nitrogen content in a diamond, the dipper the intensity of the brown colour.
Champagne diamonds come from various parts of the world, including Australia, Siberia and Africa. However, the largest champagne diamond mine was the Argyle mine in Western Australia which has been closed in 2020 because of the increasing operation cost and a stagnant diamond market.
Evaluating the Colour of Champagne Diamonds
A champagne diamond’s colour grade is based on both the colour of the stone and its intensity level. The colour evaluation of champagne diamonds has three main components: hue, saturation and tone.
Hue is the visible colour of a diamond, and the primary hue of champagne diamonds is brown. Secondary hues that enhance the primary hue, or do not detract from it add value. The secondary hue of champagne diamonds is yellow, pink or orange. Champagne diamonds with no secondary hues are notorious for their rarity and are usually sold at various auctions.
Saturation refers to the intensity of the colour, while tone refers to how light or dark the colour is.
Since “the champagne diamond” is a marketing term, the GIA does not use it on a grading report. They classify lighter champagne diamonds by letter grade, and as the shades get darker, stones are classified according to fancy colour diamonds scale.
Since the Argyle Mine is “the creator” of champagne diamonds, it carries its own grading system for these stones, ranging from C1 to C7. C1 – C2 are considered light champagne colours, C3 – C4 are medium colours, C5 – C6 are dark colours, and C7 is the darkest colour which is referred to as Cognac diamonds. Cognac diamonds come with a deep orange hue and are the most expensive variety of champagne diamonds.
Evaluating the Clarity and Cut of Champagne Diamonds
The clarity of champagne diamonds is graded the same way as that of colourless stones. The fewer inclusions, the higher the clarity grade.
However, it is often difficult to find a champagne diamond on the higher end of the clarity scale. Most champagne diamonds have clarity in SI1 – I2 range. That is why with champagne diamonds, it is recommended to opt for eye-clean stones, meaning there should not be visible flaws to the naked eye.
The cut quality of champagne diamonds, and all fancy colour diamonds in general, is not graded the same way as it is for colourless stones. Unlike colourless diamonds, fancy diamonds are not cut to maximize fire, brilliance and scintillation.
Champagne diamonds are usually cut to achieve the best colour possible; this is especially true for darker stones. In other words, the proportions that are considered ideal for colourless diamonds will not always be the best to bring out the colour of champagne diamonds.
Champagne Diamond Rarity and Prices
In general, brown diamonds are more common than any other fancy colour diamonds. Since champagne diamonds is a small group within the niche of brown diamonds, they are somewhat rarer. Besides, one of the most dominant mines producing champagne diamonds, the Argyle mine, was closed, and champagne diamonds will get even harder to find.
The price of a champagne diamond depends on its intensity of colour, clarity and carat weight. However, the deeper the colour, the higher the price. For example, darker cognac diamonds (C7) come at the highest cost, while lighter diamonds (C1 – C3) are more common and affordable as a result.
Since in the early days champagne diamonds were in low demand, they are still significantly more affordable than colourless diamonds and any other fancy colour diamonds. This makes them a great choice for those looking for a unique diamond with a reasonable price tag.