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The Red Diamond: Everything You Need to Know

by Sophia Huxley
Last updated on August 21, 2023

When deciding on a fancy color diamond, it can be tough to know what to buy, how to select it, and what that diamond even represents. And if you’re shopping for a red diamond, this task becomes even more difficult. In this helpful article we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions about red diamonds, as well as other information we hope you will find helpful in your search.

What Does a Red Diamond Mean?

Red diamonds, like many stones, can be read for deeper meanings. We love the long history of some of these meanings, such as a yellow diamond ring symbolizing the beginning or continuation of living a happy life and being in love. Red diamonds, much like red roses, can symbolize passion and power. They can also suggest ritual or repetition, like a consistent commitment to something or someone.

They also can mean flexibility of form. This hints at the ever-changing aspect of self and honors ideas such as “through sickness and through health” or growing old together. A red diamond ring signifies that you understand your partner; it means you intend to grow and change with them. What a gorgeous diamond ring to give!

An engagement ring can hold compelling messages depending on the stones you choose as well as the metals. Red diamonds hold a specifically intense message that speaks to everlasting love.

What Makes a Diamond Red in Color?

Rare red diamonds.
Rare red diamonds.

Red diamonds are incredibly unique in how they derive their color. Many fancy color diamonds get their gorgeous hues by way of impurities from high nitrogen levels, boron, and hydrogen. Some, like purple diamonds, even get their color from excessive pressure.

However, red diamonds are simply carbon. And like colorless diamonds, they are pure carbon. They also have a rare occurrence in their atomic structure that causes the color to form.

The atomic structure difference bends light through the irregular lattice of the stone, causing them to look deep red. Because their color is a trick of the light so to say, they can look different in various lighting environments. While they’ll never look colorless, they can look deeper or more luminously red in different lights. Candlelight and daylight bring out the most in these stones, causing an intense red to show. Fluorescent lights don’t do them justice.

Natural light will bounce through their atomic structure beautifully. Experts consider fluorescent lights to be the worst lighting for these stones. Red and blue diamonds have essentially opposite lighting rules to draw out their color. If you’re in fluorescent lighting more often than natural light, consider a blue diamond instead!

How Are Red Diamonds Graded Compared To Other Colored Diamonds?

Experts do not grade red diamonds on the same scale as other fancy colors. Fancy color diamonds, in general, cannot lie on the usual D-to-Z scale because you have to account for the depth of color and intensity of hue in a positive way for these diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has standardized these grading scales and provides detailed guides on its site.

Fancy red diamonds are considered highly saturated pink diamonds; it is essentially a fancy intense, fancy vivid, or fancy deep pink diamond. Therefore, they cannot lie on the usual grading scale for various carat fancy color diamonds. Experts grade them more on their tones, warmth, and clarity than whether they are the darkest or lightest of red diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has no true scale listed for these stones and discusses the complexity of their grading to justify why. Due to their rarity naturally, it can be hard to come across enough of these stones to grade comparatively. Small carat fancy red diamonds are the most common way to find these stones, and per carat they are worth a serious chunk of change.

Tone colors tend to be an important part of grading fancy colored red diamonds. The most common tone is a fancy purplish red, but they can have brownish or orangey tones as well. Orangey and brownish-red diamonds are worth a lot less than purplish or pure red diamonds. Many people prefer their red diamonds to retain a certain pinkness than to have them turn orangey or burgundy. 

Are Pink Diamonds the Same as Red Diamonds?

Camelia Promise Ring--red diamonds.

Surprisingly, yes. Pink diamonds are essentially lighter color red diamonds. However, they are separated into different categories due to the difference in looks, and because pink diamonds are more common. Uf you are shopping for man made diamonds, you are also more likely to see pink diamonds than read ones.

To be clear, a pink diamond is a light fancy red diamond. Just like how canary diamonds, otherwise known as intense yellow diamonds, are rarer than lighter shades when naturally occurring, red-colored diamonds follow a similar rule.

Many people prefer pink diamonds due to their coloring, pricing, and versatility. Per carat, pink diamonds have a lower value. But they still maintain a high price point unless they are lab-grown.

Pink diamonds are still a nice option because they are versatile. They pair well with a variety of metals, come in many different hues and shades, and are priced reasonably. All of this while still being a rare and exquisite diamond type. 

Argyle Pink Diamonds

We cannot discuss the red-color diamond without mentioning the Argyle mine. This mine was located in the Kimberely region of Western Australia and ceased operations in 2020. Up until then, the Argyle mine was the only known substantial source of red and pink diamonds in the world. In fact, it produced over 90% of the world’s supply.

Is a Red Diamond Like a Ruby?

While red diamonds may share a similar hue as rubies, their color is unlike any other stone. Garnets, rubies, spinels, and really any other red to pink-toned gemstone cannot match the deepness or clarity of a red diamond.

Many people prize the red diamond’s hue because it is incredibly unique. The coloring allows them to match lots of metal types well. Some people prefer white gold with them, while others prefer yellow gold or even rose gold with these fabulous stones. 

What Settings Flatter a Red Diamond?

With a pink diamond you would likely have a much bigger starter stone. However, red-colored diamonds will always require you to make up for their smaller size. Few can afford a large red diamond, let alone find one! Therefore, if you want one, choose a setting that detracts from its smaller size.

Plenty of settings will amp up your red-colored diamonds so that people aren’t focused on the per carat price. If you want something in the red family, but you don’t want to sacrifice on size, it’s best to pivot to a pink diamond. That way you can get a larger carat diamond and have more options in terms of settings.

Style 1: Ornate Halo Setting

Antique Halo Ring--red diamonds.

To maximize on stone size and beauty, choose an ornate halo setting to accompany a rare red diamond. These halo settings will make your diamond even redder against the color of the halo stones and will make your diamond seem far bigger. 

Style 2: Three-Stone Setting

Vineyard 3 Stone Ring--Red Diamonds

Complement a rich red diamond with vibrant side stones—either with white or colored diamonds. This will add to the glitz of your ring while still keeping it as the focal point.

Style 3: Prong Setting

Loire Six Prong Ring.

A prong setting elevates a red diamond to stand out even more. If you want everyone to notice your stone first, then choose this setting–especially because you will have to start with a much smaller-than-average diamond by purchasing a red diamond.

How Many Red Diamonds Exist?

They are so rare that a shockingly low number of pure red diamonds are actually known to exist. Currently, only 20-30 pure red diamonds have been found, and most of them are less than half a carat in size.

The expense of a red diamond is not just prestige. It is a mark of someone who paid for something incredibly rare and waited for it to come on the market for many years. They are more of a collector’s piece for many due to their rarity, expense, and tiny size. Many people outside the collector community and gemologist community wouldn’t truly know the worth of a smaller red diamond on someone’s ring or necklace. 

How Much Are Red Diamonds Worth?

Prices are only rising, with speculation that they may double in the coming years. Currently, a red diamond over 0.20ct rarely goes for anything less than $100,000. Pure red diamonds go for about 1 million dollars per carat.

These stones can be costly and are not as widely available as other fancy colored diamonds. The rarity of the stones combined with demand and price inflation causes them to be some of the most expensive gems in the world.

The second-rarest diamond color, pink, is often most people’s first alternative. Since they are actually the same type of stone with less intensity, the price tag lowers considerably while still being very much a luxury purchase.

How Can You Tell if a Red Diamond Is Real?

Large red diamond.
Large red diamond.

We always suggest seeing a professional if you doubt the quality of a red diamond. No one is a better judge of your stone than an educated expert. If you see one that is too good to be true, or you think you have found the one, it is best to meet with an expert.

That said, we have pulled a few tests that you can perform in-store or at home so you can avoid some of the more obvious fakes. If you want a quick at-home test to see how real the stone is before you call in anyone to verify the stone for you, here are some options. 

The Water Test

Practically famous as a real diamond test, drop the stone in a glass of water. If it sinks, that is a good sign. If it floats, it is not a diamond, let alone a red one. 

The Fog Test

First, put the stone up to your mouth with a mirror behind it. Then, breathe on it until the mirror fogs. If the stone stays fogged up for a few seconds, it may not be real. Real diamonds do not fog up easily or stay fogged up as condensation does not stick to the surface.

Check The Weight

Go by your local jeweler if you do not have a diamond scale at home. If your diamond weighs more than a diamond of its size and shape, it is likely fake. This is because stones like cubic zirconia can weigh up to 55% more than a diamond, so the weight of your stone is a good indicator of its authenticity.

Famous Red Diamonds

Due to their rarity and price per carat, there are quite a few famous red diamonds. Here are a few of those stunning stones, from the Hancock red diamond to the Moussaieff red diamond.

The Hancock Red Diamond

The Hancock Red Diamond is a round brilliant cut diamond that weighs 0.95ct. It was named after Warren Hancock, the famous collector. In 1956, Mr. Hancock reportedly paid $13,500 (approximately R125 000) for this diamond. It was then sold for $880,000 (approximately R8million) in 1987.

That makes this diamonds per carat pricing astronomical! This natural fancy red diamond is not famous for its size, as it is under 1 carat, but rather for its rare purplish-red color. It is heavily desired, gorgeously hued. 

The Rob Red

The Rob Red is a pear-shaped, 0.59ct fancy red, VS1 clarity diamond. A fancy color diamond expert has described it as the most saturated and purest red diamond measured visually and instrumentally to date in the world. Like the Hancock Red Diamond, it is fairly small but famous for its coloring more so than size. It is quite hard to source larger, pure red diamonds.

The Supreme Purple Star and it’s deep purple colour

This round brilliant cut, 2 to 5 carat, is a deep purple colour. The Supreme Purple Star diamond is also a study in individuality. No one has ever revealed the exact color and clarity of the diamond. When looking at the it from one angle, it appears to have a deep purple color; however, when the diamond is rotated in the light, the color changes to a deep to vivid purplish red.

This diamond is a brilliant example of the effects of lighting on red diamonds. It is also an example of how their true hue results from light refraction rather than impurities.

Looking For More Information?

We hope we were able to give you the information you were searching for. If you’ve decided you’d like consider a pink diamond (or other color diamonds), we are here to help you find the diamond of your dreams. We want your shopping experience to be easy and fun, so why not start with a virtual appointment with one of our specialists? We are positive we have diamonds you will love!