Not all brown diamonds are of equal value nor are all brown diamonds natural. Before you decide on making a brown diamond purchase, it is important to research, just like you would a white diamond. There are natural color brown diamonds, synthetic brown diamonds, irradiated brown diamonds, and Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds®.
Natural Brown Diamonds
Natural color brown diamonds are believed by geologists to be formed under very high pressure deep in the earth. It is this same intense high pressure that forms pink diamonds. The pressure exerted during this process is believed to be even higher than the pressure exerted when forming white diamonds. The high-pressure conditions also cause inclusions to form within the diamond. While all diamonds have inclusions, some contain more than others. The grading of inclusions is referred to as the ‘clarity’ of a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a standard of grading clarity which considers the amount, extent, location, inclusion type, and if the inclusion can be seen under 10x magnification. Clarity with white diamonds is a more important factor for determining the value of the diamond. Color, or what GIA refers to as the face-up color, is the dominant value factor with fancy color diamonds.
Synthetic Brown Diamonds
Synthetic brown diamonds are man-made in a lab and, therefore, are not natural. While the price of all-natural diamonds goes up every year, the cost of synthetic diamonds is expected to decrease based on the continuous improvements in the technology used to create them. Synthetic brown diamonds are not as plentiful as irradiated brown diamonds because natural brown diamonds are still affordable.
Irradiated Brown Diamonds
Irradiated brown diamonds are diamonds that have been color treated. Irradiated diamonds are created from lower-quality natural brown diamonds that would not normally be used in jewelry. Irradiation is used to enhance the color of the diamond and sometimes improve the clarity to make the diamond more commercially acceptable. The U.S. government strictly regulates the use of radiation on diamonds. Anyone who is selling or trading irradiated diamonds needs to obtain certification by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified lab to certify that the diamond is safe to sell.
Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds®, All Natural
Le Vian is the owner of the Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds® brand in many countries, including the U.S. and the U.K. It is the only brand allowed to refer to its brown diamonds as Chocolate Diamonds®. Le Vian established the brand to regulate the criteria of what is considered a Chocolate Diamond®. Each Chocolate Diamond must be within the C4-C6 range on the Argyle color chart and each Chocolate Diamond® must be SI or better, which means the diamond is eye-clean and inclusions are not visible without the use of a microscope. Each Chocolate Diamond® is cut to Le Vian’s exacting standards and is responsibly sourced. Le Vian is a certified member of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), committed to the responsible sourcing of its jewelry, from mine to retail.
Both Irradiated brown diamonds and synthetic brown diamonds do not follow Le Vian’s strict criteria and, therefore, cannot use the name Chocolate Diamonds®.
Le Vian has a centuries long history of discovering gems. The current generation has decades of experience from visiting mines, searching for and cutting gems. It was in 2000 that the Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds was born. Le Vian had noticed that the Argyle Mine was receiving increased interest in their pink diamonds. High net-worth individuals were attracted to the millions of unique variations of these natural color diamonds. However, the anomaly was that the mine’s natural fancy color brown diamonds were not under high demand because many were highly included. Le Vian found that there was a small percentage of brown gems that feature high color and clarity. Thus, Le Vian invented the term Chocolate Diamonds® in order to designate a separate quality criterion.
In the last decade, natural color fancy diamonds have sold at record breaking prices all over the world. Although Chocolate Diamonds® have increased in price, they are still more affordable than other natural color diamonds and white diamonds. It is thought by an overwhelming majority of the industry that Chocolate Diamonds® will increase in value as the Argyle Mine closes in 2020. Already, in 2018, only dozens of stones that are larger than 1.5 carat were produced at the mine.
Comparing White Diamonds to Chocolate Diamonds®
So, what’s the difference and how do all diamonds compare? A 1-carat white diamond could range from $5,000 – $50,000. A 1-carat Chocolate Diamond® ranges between $4,200-$8,000. Quite a good deal for a natural color diamond that is rarer than a white diamond.