If there’s one thing that comes to mind when you think about diamonds it’s their rarity, but there are some very special and unique versions of these precious stones that are even more difficult to find.
If you’ve heard of some of the different fancy color diamonds on the market, then you might be wondering: are red diamonds rare?
Red diamonds are the rarest of all diamond colors and very few natural examples have ever been discovered.
In this article, you’ll find out all about these incredible and highly sought-after stones.
Table of Contents
What Exactly Is A Red Diamond?
To start understanding how rare and precious these particular gemstones are, we need to know their nature.
Although their appearance might be quite far from what most people picture when they think of a traditional diamond, they are in fact true and genuine examples of the world’s most precious stone.
They are made up of the same fundamental materials as any other diamonds, and they have all of the same physical, material, and thermal properties that colorless diamonds have. The only real difference is in their color.
These are not the only diamonds that can be found with an intriguing color to them. There are many different types of “fancy color diamonds” (as they are known) beyond red, including blue, green, pink, black, gray, brown, orange, yellow, and others.
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What Makes A Diamond Red?
The different shades and hues that appear in fancy color diamonds are all the result of slightly different influences on the stone.
If a trace amount of boron is present in the structure, for example, then the diamond will be blue.
If there are high levels of graphite inclusions it might be black, and if the stone is exposed to radiation, then it can turn green.
What makes the red color in diamonds particularly fascinating is that nobody is completely sure how it comes about.
The most widely accepted theory is that a certain kind of shear pressure causes the molecules within the diamond to be displaced as the gemstone moves through layers of rock, which results in a strong red color becoming visible.
Interestingly, this theory is also believed to be the cause of pink diamonds as well.
There is a very strong connection between pink and red diamonds, to the point where many people hypothesize that they are actually simply different levels of intensity for the same kind of color.
Just How Rare Are Red Diamonds?
The various fancy colors of diamonds are not all as common as each other. Around 60% of all colored diamonds are yellow, for example, while less than 1% are distinctly blue.
When it comes to rarity, though, red diamonds are a cut above the rest. This particular color is so rare that only around 30 gem-quality natural red diamonds have ever been officially graded by the GIA, and only a handful of diamonds that qualify as having a red color are discovered every year.
Red diamonds are so rare that they are the only kind of diamond on the market that is considered to be an investment stone even when they weigh less than one carat.
The next rarest color variation for diamonds is pink, which many consider to be a lower color intensity than red diamonds.
If you’re shopping around, though, you will find that red diamonds are not completely impossible to find.
This is partly because of the lab-grown diamond industry, which is able to create and treat diamonds to give them distinctive colors.
Where Can Red Diamonds Be Found?
The main reason for the scarcity of red diamonds is the very particular conditions in which they actually develop. These conditions are so specific that red diamonds can only be found in a few places around the world.
Natural red diamonds have been discovered in:
- Western Australia
The most prolific of these locations was the Argyle diamond mine in Australia, where almost all of the world’s red diamonds have been located.
80% of all naturally-occurring pink diamonds in the world also came from Argyle but the mine shut down operations in 2020, making the likelihood of discovering new red and pink diamonds even slimmer.
What Do Red Diamonds Look Like?
To get a better understanding of these remarkable stones, we should talk a little about their actual appearance.
Red diamonds have an incredibly high level of color intensity, particularly when you compare them to the other fancy color diamonds that you can find.
Most colored diamonds are graded by the amount of visible color within the stone, from Faint up to something that is considered Vivid or Intense.
When it comes to red diamonds, however, they can only be given one color intensity: Fancy Red. Anything less intense than this would be considered a strong pink color instead of a red, further building on the connection between these two color types.
That’s not to say, however, that all red diamonds look alike. There are also secondary hues within the stones that completely change the kind of color that you can see.
Red diamonds can have a brown, purple, or orange secondary hue, and they will be graded accordingly.
Therefore, the different color types for official red diamonds can be:
- Fancy Red
- Fancy Brownish Red
- Fancy Purplish Red
- Fancy Orangeish Red
Typically, the Fancy Red examples are the most valuable and Fancy Purplish reds are worth slightly less than the others.
What Are Some Of The Most Famous Red Diamonds?
Because red diamonds are so hard to come by, specific examples have gained significant notoriety over the years.
There are a number of famous red diamonds which are highly valuable and very sought-after, despite being relatively small in size compared to other well-known gemstones.
Some of the most famous red diamonds in the world include:
- The Moussaieff Red: The world’s largest red diamond at 5.11 carats, found in the 1990s by a farmer in Brazil.
- The Kazanjian Red: This 5.05-carat stone is the second-largest red diamond ever discovered.
- The DeYoung Red: The third-largest red diamond in the world, this 5.03-carat example is actually on public display at the Smithsonian.
- The Graff Purplish-Red: 2.26 carats and set in a pink-gold ring, this stone was purchased at auction for more than two and a half million dollars in 2007.
- The Hancock Red: At 0.95 carats, this was the first red diamond ever officially put on public record. It was purchased by a rancher from Montana in the 1950s who sold it for a record-breaking (at the time) $927,000.
- The Rob Red: This red diamond is known as the purest example in the world, although it only weighs 0.59 carats.
What Is The Price Of a Red Diamond?
Now that we know just how rare and magical red diamonds truly are, we can start to take a look at just how much they are worth.
Although it is challenging to give an exact price when so few make their way to the market every year, we can give an estimate based on how much they typically sell for.
|Carat Weight||Expected Price Range|
|0.2 Carat Red Diamond||$200,000 – $400,000|
|0.5 Carat Red Diamond||$400,000 – $500,000|
|0.7 Carat Red Diamond||$600,000 – $800,000|
|0.9 Carat Red Diamond||$700,000 – $900,000|
|1.0 Carat Red Diamond||$800,000 – 1,000,000|
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay up to a million dollars per carat for a natural red diamond, and examples of that size are incredibly rare.
There are, however, less valuable lab-grown diamonds that do appear on the market as well.
What Affects The Price Of A Red Diamond?
Even though all red diamonds certainly have a very significant value just based on their color alone, there are a number of other factors that need to be taken into consideration as well.
All diamonds should be graded by an external laboratory (like the GIA) to verify their qualities and characteristics.
The most important of these are the Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat: known as the Four Cs. These four features will have the most significant impact on the value of any diamond, and red diamonds are no exception.
- Cut: How a red diamond has been cut will affect how brightly it shines and how well it reflects light. This can range from Excellent to Poor.
- Color: For typical colorless diamonds, this rating judges how much yellow color is visible, and any amount reduces the value of the stone. When it comes to red diamonds, however, this is the deciding grade that will tell you whether it is an official Fancy Red, and what hue it might have.
- Clarity: The clarity grade tells you how many inclusions are in the stone. An Internally Flawless grade is the highest and most valuable.
- Carat: The carat weight of the stone obviously greatly affects how much it will cost.
The other notable factor that will change the price of a diamond is where it comes from.
Some source mines (like Argyle) add additional value, and lab-grown diamonds are around 50-70% less valuable on average than those that were mined from the earth.
This is even more true for color variations like red, which are so difficult to find naturally.
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So, are red diamonds rare? Absolutely. These are the rarest diamonds of all, and only a very small number of them have ever been discovered.
They can only be found in a few places around the world, and they need to be very intense in their coloration to officially qualify as a “Fancy Red” gemstone.
This means that red diamonds are among the most expensive precious gems in the world, often selling for up to six figures per carat.
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