Elusive Rainbow: Why Do Fancy Shapes Make Colors Pop?

October 23, 2021  |  Richa Goyal Sikri  |  SPONSORED BY: Langerman Natural Color Diamonds
Image: Fancy shapes in Canary, Jonquille, Pumpkin, Cognac, Amber, and Chocolate. (Langerman Diamonds)

Natural color diamonds lends themselves best to fancy shapes, which serve to intensify their hues.

When manufacturing colorless diamonds, cutters aim to maximize all the 4Cs to create optimal light dispersion. With natural color diamonds, that journey is more artistic. Cut, carat weight and clarity take a back seat to color — the main factor in determining a stone’s value.

A round, colorless diamond is worth 30% more than a fancy shape because for classic shapes, material loss during the polishing process can be 40% to 45%. The amount of loss is less predictable for color diamonds, ranging from 20% to 80%.

Interestingly, for natural color diamonds, fancy shapes — not round — deliver the best color intensity and value. “If we see a color diamond that’s already dark, we don’t cut it too deep because that may deepen the color,” explains Arthur Langerman, founder of Langerman Diamonds.

“We have to find the spot of color in a stone and apply facets to reflect the hue throughout the diamond. The polishing strategy can keep changing during the process depending on how the material is reacting to your touch.”

Using examples from the Argyle mine, Langerman explains: “When you apply the first facet on a rough pink, the color jumps, almost turning red. As the cutter continues polishing, the hue lightens. With a more orange-pink diamond from the same mine, the reaction can be different. Polishing can remove the brown element, bringing to life a magnificent pink diamond.”

A Memorable Diamond

Herman Wynens shares the story of the most difficult color diamond he has cut.

“It was the Honey Heart [found in central Africa]. The rough was 6.50 carats, in an oval shape with a small point at one corner. Another polisher had challenged Mr. Langerman that there was no way he could make anything above 4 carats with it. He asked me and challenged me to do better.

“When I started polishing, I first made four tiny windows to look inside, then decided a heart shape would be best; an oval would mean losing more weight. As I was polishing it, I saw I could keep more weight by adding extra facets under the girdle — this is not something we’d ever do with a colorless diamond. Normally in a good polish you keep around 50% of the original weight, but here we did even better. Diamonds need fire, color, and weight — to keep all three together was very difficult. It took one month, and in the end, I delivered a heart-shaped, 4.06-carat, honey-color diamond. The entire time I worked on this diamond, my toes were curled up!”

Before: 6.15-carat
rough by Langerman Diamonds
After: 4.06-carat
heart-shaped Honey
diamond by Langerman Diamonds

Chasing Rainbows

For Herman Wynens, who has been polishing diamonds for Langerman Diamonds for over 20 years, color
diamonds’ mysterious nature makes them interesting. “Impurities deliver color, but they also bring air bubbles, pique, and inclusions. It’s more dangerous handling these aspects in natural color diamonds than colorless ones,” he explains.

On rare occasions, Wynens has opened a parcel to find a diamond he cut the previous day reduced to dust overnight because it couldn’t withstand the stress of the process. “The uniqueness of each stone makes me feel like I am creating a mini-sculpture, an art piece. Each color diamond is unique and not
all can sparkle under pressure,” he relates.

The diamond’s origin also influences polishing and cutting decisions. For example, Langerman shares that while rough yellow diamonds from Venezuela are light, polishing intensifies their hue. In comparison, when they are retrieved, yellow diamonds from Borneo have a brown skin on their surface, but during polishing the brown can be removed, uncovering a beautiful yellow stone.

Polishing techniques — such as changing the angle of the culet — can influence the intensity of color in yellow diamonds from South Africa, yet the hue remains the same for diamonds from the Zimmi mine in Sierra Leone, where the world’s most vivid yellow diamonds are found.

Limited understanding of color diamond characteristics is driving consumers to rely on lab reports rather than assessing the stones themselves, Langerman cautions. “These reports have to be read in a different way even for shape and cut — for instance the criteria for ‘excellent cuts’ of colorless diamonds are not applicable to color diamonds.

Changing the culet’s angle or creating a deeper stone is necessary to bring out the best color and features of each stone,” he observes.

Despite their cumulative experience spanning over 80 years, Langerman and Wynens both declare that they learn new facets about color diamonds every day. One thing is clear, if colorless diamonds are reservoirs of the sun’s pure light, color diamonds are like the hues of an elusive rainbow.

Image: Fancy shapes in Canary, Jonquille, Pumpkin, Cognac, Amber, and Chocolate. (Langerman Diamonds)


Image: Fancy shapes in Canary, Jonquille, Pumpkin, Cognac, Amber, and Chocolate. (Langerman Diamonds) Elusive Rainbow: Why Do Fancy Shapes Make Colors Pop?

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