Apr 8, 2014

Why Brown Diamonds Are Not Considered an Investment

By   Nicole Snitman, GIA, D.G.   |   Tags:    |   Category: Fashion, The Guildhall Color Diamond Advisor


Brown diamonds, otherwise known as Chocolate, Cognac or Caramel diamonds are not considered investment-grade diamonds simply because they are too abundant.
Most colorless diamonds will possess some yellow or brown color within the diamond but when they pass over from the D-Z colorless diamond scale they will be considered Natural Fancy Color Diamonds.

D to Z Colorless Brown Diamond Scale
While yellow diamonds are rare, brown diamonds on the other hand are plentiful – perhaps even more so than colorless or “white diamonds”.

Fabulous and wealthy celebrities wearing brown diamonds on the red carpet adding to the desire for these gems.

Fabulous and wealthy celebrities wearing brown diamonds on the red carpet adding to the desire for these gems.

Clever marketing campaigns centered around beautiful sparkling jewelry featuring brown diamonds have popped up over the past few years with terms such as “chocolate” and “cognac” diamonds used in the advertising. This creates a lot of allure and mystique around these so called special diamonds. Chocolate is probably as well loved as diamonds. It’s in our social conditioning to love these indulgent items. Put these two long loved items together and you have something that no one can deny sounds irresistibly appealing.

Le Vian Corp has trademarked the term “Chocolate Diamond” which is the focus of many of their campaigns.

Le Vian Corp. has trademarked the term "Chocolate Diamond"

Le Vian Corp. has trademarked the term “Chocolate Diamond”

Nowhere in their campaigns do they suggest that these diamonds are anything more than a luxury and desire. They do not claim that brown diamonds are an investment.

We also see celebrities in the spotlight wearing Brown diamonds and we tend to think that if they are wearing them they must be expensive and something to aspire to.

But where does the notion that brown diamonds are an investment come from?

I believe it comes from inexperienced individuals believing that just because they are termed Natural Fancy Brown Diamonds that they are automatically investment because there is so much awareness these days for Natural Fancy Color Diamonds as a proven asset class. This is true for all other colors however, except for brown, grey and black (see color rarity chart below).

diamond rarity chart

In these cases it is ignorance. In some other more sinister situations, companies are just charging more because they can get away with it.
Dodai Stewart of J Jezebel, an online magazine interviewed Dr. George Harlow, who holds a PhD from Princeton, is trained as a geologist specializing in mineralogy and crystallography, and is employed as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in her article “The Truth About Chocolate Diamonds”. Dr. Harlow states…

“But the thing is with brown, there’s an oversupply. So there’s a desire to try and change them from industrial diamonds, which is what they generally are, to a gem buyer.
Normally, industrials are the lower grade [stones], full of inclusions. Or off-color. That’s essentially 80% of the overall production — is really industrial.”

Mr. Harlow also confirms in Stewart’s article that…

..when it comes to diamonds, “The most common color is brown, and then colorless.” The so-called “fancy” colors — yellow, pink, green and blue — are more rare. (The Hope Diamond, the most famous diamond in the world, is blue.) “Blue diamonds and red diamonds are extremely rare,” he explained.

“The most rare.” True greens are also rare. But most diamonds are brown. Why haven’t we really seen or heard about brown diamonds before? “Brown is not considered an attractive color,” Dr. Harlow said. He pointed out that there have been “various attempts over the years to market” brown diamonds, but they were not very successful; although, apparently, briefly, in the ’70s, “cognac” diamonds were a thing. But still: Up until very recently, brown diamonds were not something anyone was interested in. Unless you just needed something hard and sharp, because you were running a factory”.

At Guildhall it is our aim to educate and inform those looking to collect valuable Color Diamonds be it for investment, enjoyment or passion. We urge our customers to be informed about all aspects of purchasing Natural Fancy Color Diamonds and to beware of companies pushing Brown diamonds as investment.

For more information or to view the Guildhall Collection of Natural Fancy Color Diamonds please visit

Related Articles:
“A $12,000 ‘Chocolate’ Diamond ma’am? How jewelers are fooling women by repackaging the common brown diamond as an expensive gem” by Saide Whitelocks of Mail Online
“The Truth About Chocolate Diamonds” by Dodai Stewart of J Jezebel (