A few weekends ago, I stopped by Christie’s preview of its New York Magnificent Jewels sale, which took place on April 14th, along with a group of friends. One of my friends, who has joined me on several jewelry-related outings, is always drawn toward diamond rings, usually the largest and priciest ones (aren’t we all?). Although the sale offered plenty of perfect round brilliants, a fancy gray-blue diamond shimmering in the vitrine in the front stopped her dead in her tracks.
While white diamonds remain heavy favorites for engagement rings, fancy colored diamonds are gaining ground as millennials opt for one-of-a-kind goods of all varieties. Blue, pink and yellow diamonds have traditionally been the most popular alternatives to the colorless kind, however more natural colors are being added to the mix. The most alluring of these, in my opinion, are the fancy gray diamonds.
The one my friend fell head over heels for is actually a blue diamond with gray as a secondary, or modifying, color, hence Fancy Gray-Blue. Since the body color of that diamond was blue, the price realized was significantly higher than if it were simply a gray diamond. “The combination of the two colors, along with the cutting style, made the stone emit beautiful hues of violets, purples and differing shades of blues,” says Tom Burstein, Senior Vice President at Christie’s. That stunning stone sold for $2,285,000.
“Gray is more often seen as a modifying color, and its presence can make a diamond very interesting in its color and effect,” says Burstein. While blue diamonds are most commonly seen with gray modifiers, greenish yellow diamonds also appear with hints of gray – a unique color combination referred to as ‘chameleon’. “Colors such as fancy grayish yellowish green will give a diamond a chameleon effect as it will change colors in different lights and temperatures,” Tom explains.
When purely gray with no secondary color, the range of neutral gray hues resembles an overcast sky as it turns into an intensely stormy one, often with a silvery sheen. “A fancy gray diamond is most striking when its color takes on a brilliant hardness that evokes the feeling of seemingly transparent highly polished steel or chrome,” says Burstein. Noting the rarity of fancy gray diamonds with no modifying colors, Burstein recalls his favorite – a 10.67-carat step-cut diamond that sold at Christie’s in Geneva in May of 2011. “The appeal of this diamond was so strong that it greatly exceeded expectations, selling for nearly $110,000 per carat – a record price for the color.”
In spite of its pejorative color term, fancy gray diamonds are just as captivating as their colorless and colored counterparts. Burstein adds, “Only a diamond, with its unique interaction with light, can a color such as gray appear so beautiful in a variety of ways.” I foresee the mystical allure of fancy gray diamonds attracting new waves of collectors seeking the rare and unique for years to come.