More About Color Modifiers

by queenofcolordiamonds

Some time ago I wrote a bit about modifiers, but because so many people ask me about this and I love this topic, I thought I would elaborate.

What are Color Modifiers?

Natural fancy color diamonds will often contain more than one color in a diamond, creating an array of breathtaking shades within the color spectrum. To be exact, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) classifies color diamonds into 27 hues.  Examples of these variances could include “aqua blue” technically Greenish Blue, “lime green” which would fall under Yellowish Green or “fuchsia” which can be classified as Red Purple.


27 Hues for Natural Fancy Color Diamonds

It is very common for gem laboratories to describe the color of a natural fancy color diamond as a combination of two, or even three, colors. When a diamond has more than one color, the last color mentioned is the primary color of the stone and the modifier is the secondary or even tertiary color. For example, a Bluish-Green diamond has a primary hue of green with a modifying tint of blue.



Color Modifiers and Value:

Every now and then I get asked if additional colors in a diamond will take away from a diamond’s intrinsic value.  The answer to this question is yes and no.  We know that the rarer the color, the more valuable the natural color diamond will be.  Some diamonds contain modifying colors that can increase or decrease the diamond’s value.

Let’s look at some examples…

 Increased Diamond Values with Modifiers:

If one or two of the modifying colors are rarer than the main hue of the diamond, the value of the diamond can be increased as a result of the modifier.  Of course natural fancy color diamonds should always be measured on the individual beauty of the color and value factors (color, cut, clarity, carat weight) generally there is an order of rarity when it comes to color diamonds in the market.

They are as follows…

Extremely Rare:  Red, Violet, Green, Blue, Orange

Rare:  Pink, Olive, Yellow

Least Rare:  Grey, Brown, Black

When we look to the color diamond rarity scale, we know that a green diamond is simply rarer than a blue diamond.  Therefore, a green-blue diamond may very well be elevated in value with the addition of this particular modifier.


Intense Green-Blue

Here is another example:

If we look at an Orange-Pink Diamond, the hue is pink, and the modifier is orange. We know that orange diamonds are extremely rare.  The diamond still looks pink but adding that orange changes the color slightly and also increases the rarity of the color and therefore, the value.


Deep Orangy Pink

Equal Diamond Value with Modifiers:

Now when both colors are extremely rare, the value can be retained and potentially increased by the beautiful creation of the combined colors.

Take a blue-green diamond as another example.  The main body color (hue) is green but by the addition of boron and/or hydrogen elements in the diamond’s modifying blue color a turquoise tone now radiates in the diamond.  This addition of color will create a beautiful and unique shade resulting in a desirable diamond particularly for collectors who understand color and appreciate the varying shades and tones in a particular hue.


Intense Bluish-Green

Reduced Diamond Value with Modifiers:

If the modifying color is of lesser value than the main body color it can reduce the value of a diamond depending on the amount of color present.  An example would be a brown modifier.  A brown-yellow or brown-pink can reduce the value of the hue because brown diamonds are just less rare and therefore less valuable.

Here is a brown-pink diamond. The hue is pink but because the modifying color contains a large percentage of brown (approximately 45%) it tends to look rather brown and has less investment potential.

ImageWhat is the “ish” in Color Diamonds All About?

So we know that diamonds come in a rainbow of colors:  red, blue, green, purple, pink, yellow etc. These colors are officially referred to as hues.  We have also learned that some diamonds may have one or two modifiers turning the diamond into shades of a given hue.  But what does it mean when we see an “ish” behind a color such as “yellowish green” or “greenish yellow”?

When the modifying color contains the suffix “ish” it will mean that this secondary color will account for a smaller percentage of the diamond’s total body color – ranging from 15-30%.

“ISH” = approximately 15-30% of the diamond body color.

In other words, a yellowish-green diamond will contain less yellow than a diamond that has been graded yellow-green

Here is an example of a Yellowish-Green diamond where the hue is green, the modifier is yellow and the total body color looks approximately 80% green.  The ish factor here represented approximately 20% of the total color

ImageNote:  If the color modifier is less than 15%, then the yellow is dropped altogether and the diamond would be considered green.

However, when a diamond contains a prominent modifying color of 40-45% the diamond will be graded with the full color name.  If we continue with the example above, the diamond would be considered yellow-green with the yellow modifier occupying 40% of the diamond’s colour.

40-45% Modifier

The full color names are used.  i.e. Purple-Pink

In Summation:

Modifying colors can definitely add to the intrinsic value and beauty of a natural fancy color diamond and take it from something beautiful to something even more extraordinary.

Of course, you must always look at clarity grades, carat weight, color grades and cut grades in order to evaluate whether a diamond’s modifiers will attract or detract from its beauty and value. In other words if a diamond with 2 beautiful and rare colors combined has a poor cut or the color is not evenly distributed it will not be as valuable as a comparable diamond that is well cut or contains a single color.  Additionally, one has to take into account the beauty of a diamond in the eye of the beholder.  Spectacular color diamonds have been born out of Mother Nature’s decision to include multiple colors in a single diamond.  It is little wonder that each and every natural fancy color diamond is truly one of a kind.