The colour red is generally associated with love, passion, and strength, therefore it is very fitting that the world’s rarest, most desirable and most valuable of the fancy natural coloured diamonds is the red diamond! Red diamonds are so rare that it is believed that thirty true ‘predominantly red’ diamonds are in existence, and most are smaller than half a carat – ‘predominantly red’ is the description given by the GIA that indicates that red is the primary colour in the diamond with no secondary hues such as purple.
Here we take a look at the phenomenon of the world rarest diamonds – the red diamond:
In comparison to other natural fancy coloured diamonds there is very little gemological information about red diamonds largely due to their scarcity. Colouring in diamonds is caused by various chemical impurities but as red diamonds are wholly comprised of pure carbon experts have long pondered how a gemstone with no such impurities attains such a striking and magnificent colour?
It is believed that the red colour is due to rare deformities in the gemstones anatomical structure which resulted from increased stress during the formation of the diamond. These lattice defects internally bend and refract the light that enters the diamond so giving it the red colouration. Given different sources and amounts of light passing through, red diamonds appear to exhibit different colours and they shine more brightly under natural daylight, and under florescent light they appear much different and dull.
Often diamonds that may initially appear to be red to the naked eye are actually fancy deep or dark pinks. The difference between a fairly deep pink and a moderately dark red can be very subtle and almost undistinguishable to an untrained eye which is especially true under poor lighting conditions.
Red diamonds really are the exception to the rule
All natural fancy coloured diamonds have their colours prefixed by terms such as ‘intense’ or ‘vivid’ when compared in a colour grading scale. Red diamonds however are the only exception to this rule and the reason behind this is that most gemological laboratories consider the red colour to be unique, as well as, “intense” or “vivid” itself. However, there have been red diamonds found with slight differences in depth of colour with hues ranging from a lighter and sweeter tone to those with a much darker and deeper tint.
The vast majority of red diamonds are found in the Argyle mines owned by the Rio Tinto company located in the East Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia and they are often featured in their famous annual Argyle tender. Red diamonds have also on rare occasion been found in the diamond mines of Brazil, Africa. Australia, Russia, and India
Out of all the natural fancy colour diamonds, red is the most rare, even surpassing pink diamonds. Red diamonds are one of the most expensive and rare diamonds in the world and they will always continue to break records although they rarely appear at auctions. In 1987 the 0.95-carat Hancock Red Diamond was sold for $880,000 in 1987 (you can only imagine what it must be worth now!). The 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red Diamond was sold for $8 million dollars in 2001 and in 2013, a 1.92-carat Fancy Red rectangular-cut diamond, sold for CHF3.15 million at Christie’s, while the auction house also sold a 2.09-carat heart-shaped Fancy Red diamond ring by Moussaieff for HKD39.32 million in 2014. Since this time, only a limited number of red diamonds have been revealed, increasing their mystique.
Red diamonds are so rare that there are only a handful of unmodified reds available on the market, with most of them weighing less than 1 carat in weight. The world’s largest red diamond is the Moussaieff Red, which weighed in at 5.11 carats and sold for $8 million at auction in 2001 and is estimated to be worth over $20 million today! It has a triangular brilliant cut sometimes referred to as a trillion or a trilliant cut and is rated in colour as a Fancy Red by the GIA. Although this may seem relatively small when compared to other famous diamonds, in fact, the Moussaieff Red is the largest Fancy Red the GIA reports having valued.
Other famous red diamonds
Undoubtedly the most famous and largest red diamond is the ‘Moussaieff Red’ also referred to as the ‘Red Shield’) but other famous red diamonds include the Hancock Red Diamond, the Rob Red and the Supreme Purple Star
The Hancock Red Diamond is famous for its rare purplish red colour and weighs 0.95 carat. It is a round brilliant cut red diamond and was named after the famous collector, Warren Hancock who reportedly paid $13,500 for this diamond in 1956, which proved to be a great investment as he later sold it for $880,000 in 1987!
The Rob Red is a 0.59 carat fancy red diamond which is pear shaped and exhibits VS1 clarity. GIA colour grading experts described the Rob Red as ‘the most saturated and purest red diamond measured visually and instrumentally to date in the world’.
The Supreme Purple Star is a round brilliant cut deep purple diamond that weighs between 2 to 5 carats. The exact colour and clarity of this diamond has not been revealed but when viewing looking at the diamond from one angle, it appears to be of a deep purple colour, however when the diamond is rotated in the light, the colour changes to a very striking and lustrous deep to vivid purplish red colour.