What are Gray Diamonds?
One of the least known diamond colors, and one of the hardest to find, is a gray diamond. Rarer than yellow or blue diamonds, these diamonds are relatively unknown, it's extremely common to find that most (including lots of jewelers) have never even heard of them!
What makes them Gray?
It’s believed that gray diamonds get their color from the presence of increased levels of hydrogen or boron when they are formed. The presence of these elements is what causes the structure and color of the diamond to change, and also what dictates the different intensities and hues that we see optically.
How to evaluate a Gray Diamond
Stunning and understated, grays come in a wide range of tonality, from pale misty, silvery hues to rich smoky, ash-like ones. True grays are neutral, although many gray-ish diamonds may have undercurrents of green or yellow. Some even have vibrant violet undercurrents -- but you'll know when you come across one of these, because they're one of the rarest of the rare, and the price will reflect this dramatically!
Like champagne diamonds, gray diamonds are considered 'fancy', and as such are evaluated slightly differently than a traditional colorless or white diamond. Diamonds in this category may be evaluated based on tone and saturation – with tone referring to how light or dark a stone is, and saturation referring to intensity of color exhibited. Thus, darker tones may command a higher price than lighter tones.
GIA, the most prominent industry grading lab, classifies gray diamonds by letter grade according to their fancy colour diamonds scale. This scale ranges from ‘Faint’ and ‘Very Light’ to ‘Fancy Intense’ and ‘Fancy Vivid’, with various other levels in-between. There are 9 total levels to this scale, however as a general rule: the more color present, the more valuable the stone.
* PRO TIP: When evaluating grays, it’s important to remember that those who are often attracted to colored stones may have personal preferences that may trump any ‘industry standards’ for value that might exist. Because of this subjectivity -- it's always a good idea to do some digging to find out if your future fiancée has a preference for a lighter tone, medium tone, or darker tone. Having said that -- it's equally important to come to a specialty diamond search with a bit of flexibility: The rarer the color, the more difficult and time consuming it may be to track down the 'perfect' color -- so having realistic expectations is important.
Clarity in gray diamonds is graded exactly the same as in colorless stones: The fewer inclusions, the higher the grade. The higher the grade, the more expensive the stone.
Although the grading scale is the same, it is important to note that the diamonds available in this color range are rare, so there are exponentially less 'perfect' ones to be found. As a restuly, it can be difficult to find a diamonds that is higher than an SI1, and the majority of stones will fall within the SI1-I2 range. Because of the rarity of ‘perfect’ stones, the guidance on selecting a gray diamond is this: look for an eye-clean stone or a stone that ‘faces up nicely’. This simply means to find a stone that doesn’t show its inclusions, and to the naked eye does not exhibit unsightly defects. There are many different types of inclusions or ‘defects’, and no two stones are ever the same. The organization or location of inclusions, number of inclusions, color of inclusions, and type of inclusions all play a role in how beautiful a stone is optically. It is critical in these situations to work with someone who is skilled in evaluating stones, and it’s never advisable to choose a diamond based on a grade alone.
Gray diamonds, like all fancy color diamonds, are not graded the same way as colorless diamonds in terms of cut. Fancy diamonds are not expected to be cut to maximize fire or brilliance, but rather to achieve the best color possible. This is particularly true for darker stones. As a result, it is common to find proportions that do not adhere to the ‘ideal’ standards of colorless diamonds.
Rarity and Cost
Truly unique, gray diamonds are starting to gain in popularity, but are still an obscure choice. As such, they're value (and cost) remains relatively low. Currently, (non-violet) grays come in slightly more expensive than Champagne diamonds, but far less than other fancy colors or white stones. If popularity continues to gain, it's highly likely that price will continue to increase as well, given the rarity of the color and limited supply. If gray appeals to you -- it's a great time to buy.
Got your heart set on a gray?!