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Understanding Brown and Chocolate Diamonds

Brown diamonds (or Chocolate Diamonds, as we’ve come to know them) have only recently appeared on the jewelry-making scene, but they’ve become quite the sensation in this short time span.

We look at how the brown diamond went from being a humble piece of factory equipment to one of the biggest trends in jewelry, thanks in large part to the Le Vian brand.

Le Vian 14K Yellow Gold Crossover Chocolate Diamond Ring Size 7

Le Vian 14K Yellow Gold Crossover Chocolate Diamond

The Industrial-Use Brown Diamond
Fancy colored diamonds (yellow, green, pink, red and blue) diamonds are more valuable than white diamonds. But brown diamonds, while technically a colored diamond, were not nearly as commercially desirable as their rarer and more sprightly counterparts.

Brown diamonds, usually dull in color or full of inclusions, are abundantly mined. Because of how common brown diamonds are, they are quickly relegated to factory equipment use and never made the leap into jewelry making—aside from a brief trend in the 1970s when orange-brown diamonds were marketed as “cognac diamonds.”

In turn, brown diamonds have largely been written off as exclusively industrial-use diamonds and have had a hard time shaking that undesirable reputation.

The Introduction of the Chocolate Diamond
However, in the early 2000s, Le Vian sought to capitalize on the plentiful brown diamond by changing the public’s perception of it.

In order to elevate the undesired brown diamond, Le Vian began evaluating them with the same scrutiny as jewelers valuate diamonds with a particular emphasis on the brown diamond’s natural color. For a brown diamond to be selected as a Le Vian Chocolate Diamond, the stone had to fall within the C4-C7 color range.

Chocolate and Brown Diamond Scale, Courtesy of Le Vian

Chocolate and Brown Diamond Scale, Courtesy of Le Vian

Also, the qualifying brown diamond must have a clarity of “slightly included” (SI) or better so the inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. In setting and following these criteria, Le Vian has effectively made Chocolate Diamonds fairly rare: fewer than 5% of brown diamonds meet these exacting standards. This rarity has bolstered brown and Chocolate Diamonds’ popularity in jewelry-making and helped to reposition brown diamonds as a fashionable gemstone.

To learn more about how fancy colored diamonds are made, read our post on the topic here.