The LIES About Chocolate Diamonds
February 24th, 2014 by Noam Flint
This article is a bit different than what I usually write about.
Normally, this blog focuses on industry related news, educational material and buying guides (and I’m proud to say that our material was featured in sites as Jeweller Magazine, Lifehack.org and many others). This time, the post’s purpose is to clarify all of the confusion and misunderstanding surrounding Chocolate Diamonds®.
Chocolate Brown Diamonds Eternity Rings
What we’ll talk about (click to skip):
What are Chocolate Diamonds®?
Where do Chocolate Diamonds® come from?
The real value of Chocolate Diamond Rings
Why Chocolate Diamonds® cost more than Brown Diamonds?
The truth about Chocolate Diamonds®
Editorial Notes – the Lies
What is a Chocolate Diamond?
Well, the first thing you’d notice about chocolate diamonds is that they are beautiful and fairly inexpensive compared to regular diamonds – most chocolate rings priced at the $1,000 – $4,000 range. Just look:
In short, Chocolate Diamonds® are a trademark owned by Le-Vian group which describes nicely the color of the diamond.
Just like strong colored yellow diamonds are often referred to as canary diamonds and other shades of brown called Cognac and Champagne (I hope I didn’t share another industry secret…).
Here is Mr. Eddie Le Vian’s comment and explanation of what Chocolate Diamonds® are:
Chocolate Diamonds® are Le Vian’s proprietary brand of natural fancy color diamonds that are chosen for their rarity and chocolate flavor.
There are color, clarity and cut criteria, as well as responsible, traceable sourcing criteria for being branded as Chocolate Diamonds®. (Eddie Le Vian to Jezebel)”
Where do Chocolate Diamonds come from?
Just like colorless diamonds, colored diamonds come from all over the globe. The beauty is that every region (even every mine) that is known to produce colored diamonds is known to produce specific colors.
In the case of brown diamonds (and in them the specific shade referred as Chocolate), they are found mainly in Australia (Argyle), Angola, Borneo, Brazil and the Congo. According to Le-Vian, they source their brown diamonds from the Argyle Diamond Mine.
The Real Value of Chocolate Diamond Rings?
As I mentioned I want you to have ALL of the information! According to Jezebel’s writer – brown diamonds are the most common form of diamonds on earth and till not too long ago were used only for industrial purposes and therefore the prices of chocolate diamonds® should not be as high.
In the complementary article written at the Daily Mail the title of the article goes as far as calling jewelers liars and claiming they are fooling women.
Brown Diamonds do cost 50% less than medium quality white diamonds
The Jezebel’s article goes on and on about the deception and about the fact that these diamonds may be worthless in 20 years: “Imagine trying to sell a chocolate diamond in 20 years” and also about how they degrade women:
The name and marketing campaign is insulting on a few levels: Women won’t be able to resist, because it’s chocolate! Women won’t care that they’re just brown rocks if we call them chocolate! Women love to treat themselves, and indulge — and will buy something even if it’s not good for them!”
Really? I’m not a woman but do you think women would buy an $8,000 chocolate diamond ring because it is called chocolate? I think the one that degrades women is Jezebel by stating it…
Brown Diamonds are less expensive than white diamonds. Some might call them cheap (relatively speaking – these are diamonds and not chocolates after all).
Example Pricing of Brown Diamonds
The prices below of the brown diamonds are taken from actual diamonds on our site. The comparable white diamonds are taken from BlueNile.com – one of the cheapest suppliers for colorless diamonds.
3.09ct Dark Orangy Brown Diamond
3.45ct Dark Orangy Brown Diamond
2.04ct Fancy Yellow Brown Diamond
In the examples:
- 3.09ct Princess Dark Orangy Brown Diamond = $11,000
3.09ct Princess Cut G color, si2 = $25,000
- 3.45ct Round Dark Orangy Brown Diamond = $11,000
3.45ct Round G Color, si2 = $49,000
- 2.04ct Oval Fancy Yellow Brown Diamond, vs1 = $6,000
2.04ct Oval G Color, vs1 = $20,000
As can be seen… Brown Diamonds do cost a fraction of the price of equivalent white diamonds. So…
Why do Chocolate Diamonds cost more than Brown Diamonds?
According to Le-Vian, the entire concept of Chocolate Diamonds was invented to differentiate the brown diamonds that they are using which are of high color, good quality and sourced from the Argyle diamond mine than from the poor and low quality brown diamonds that one can buy cheap (like the ones you often find on eBay):
While it is true that there exists a high percentage of low clarity/ poor color brown diamonds, there is a small percentage, less than 5%, which are, in actuality, more beautiful and rarer than their colorless white counterpart; in fact, 10,000 times rarer.
It is this select group of diamonds that enticed Le Vian who recognized the value and rarity of the higher color and clarity natural brown diamonds which were unfairly grouped with the lower quality stones thus resulting in lower pricing.
While I can relate to that, as you can see from the examples above of GIA certified brown diamonds taken from our stock – I think this is not and should not be the point. The point is that Chocolate Diamonds are designer Jewelry and when you buy designer goods you pay more for many reasons. It is up to you to choose if you’d like to go that route or not.
Is the price of a Louis Vuitton bag made up of the amount of fabric used? Is the price of an iPhone similar to the price of an un-known Chinese cell phone?
What about the beautiful Tiffany rings? According to their financial reports they sold their products with over 61.5% gross profit… are they liars?
Same with Le Vian… they are designers. When buying from them you buy designer jewelry that always costs more.
The Truth about Chocolate Diamonds
In my opinion, this section is a bit out of the scope needed to understand Chocolate Diamonds but it is needed to answer all that was discussed in the Jezebel article. The writer proclaims that your Chocolate Diamond would be worthless 20 years from now and she quotes from the excellent book “Have you Ever Tried Selling a Diamond?”. Before I respond and explain let me ask you this:
Are you investing in colored diamonds or buying a present / engagement ring?
Brown Diamond Engagement Ring can easily cost 50% less than equivalent white diamond ring
In fact, these “evil brown diamonds” assist in breaking the “mold”, the “template” of regular engagement rings and allow people to design a personalized and unique diamond engagement ring at a fraction of the price of a regular ring.
When I proposed my wife, more than 10 years ago, at no point did I contemplate what the ring would be worth when we pass it to our kids. I simply wanted something beautiful that would put a smile on her face and that was personalized to her taste.
Saying (at least these days) that the saying “diamonds are forever“ was invented in order to prevent you from trying to sell your diamond is ridiculous. Diamonds do last forever, they do not ware off, hopefully your marriage would be the same… an obvious symbolic concept.
In recent years people are actually stepping out of the “Need to Buy a Diamond” and enter the concept of giving a token of love to your loved one – and yes, diamonds can do the trick but also Sapphires (see Kate Middleton’s engagement ring) and Colored diamonds which truly enable you to personalize the ring to the taste, style and character of your better half.
Have you ever tried selling a diamond? Or an iPhone? A Car?
The article stipulates that diamonds are far overpriced (especially Chocolate ones). At that point they quote Mr. Epstein who wrote back in the early 80′s about the De-Beers cartel. A very interesting book that I have enjoyed reading and learned a lot from on the industry and how it operates (or at least operated).
Mr. Epstein bought a diamond from a retailer on 47th st. for $1,500 and later tried reselling it (back to retailers!). He was offered far less for it and was told that it was low quality etc.
Mr. Epstein bought the diamond in one of the most expensive locations in the world. Of course it was overpriced.
Besides, the “rude” jeweler wanted to earn his share . Remember my example about Tiffany’s 60% gross profit… this means that a $1,500 dollar ring costs them around $600… Do you think that if you go to Tiffany’s and offer them to buy a diamond ring from you for $600 they would accept? Even $500…?
Also, when a jeweler is buying a diamond from his supplier do you imagine they tell their suppliers “it is an amazing diamond I want it” or something in the lines of “it is mediocre and is not worth the price you are asking…”?
Jezebel – Have you ever tried selling your used car? Did your buyer complement you on how the car is well maintained or did he show you all the flaws and offered less? How much does Amazon charge for used books? (can you imagine for how much they buy them…?)
And who buys a diamond these days without a certificate stating its findings? Today, if Mr. Epstein (or any buyer) were to buy a certified diamond no jeweler could have told him anything about the quality of the diamond…
But what do I care about Chocolate Diamonds?
I don’t sell Chocolate Diamonds® or any of Le Vian’s goods nor we are their suppliers.
In my early days in the natural colored diamonds industry I made the mistake of blogging a lot about Chocolate Diamonds®.
It seemed so natural to me to call these dark brown diamonds Chocolate Diamonds® that I never even suspected it’s a registered trademark.
I assumed these are shades of brown diamonds exactly like cognac and champagne. Only as the time went by and I learned more about colored diamonds I came to realize this “hard truth”.
So why do I care…?
Short Editorial Note
Every once in a while, especially when the scent of diamonds is in the air (like Valentines & Christmas), comes an article and debates the concept of using diamonds as a token of love.
A while back was the great post “diamonds are bullshit” (no sarcasm intended though it lacked some fundamental facts) and recently the news industry decided to rant about chocolate diamonds® with an article at Jezebel - “The Truth About Chocolate Diamonds“ and its spin-off at the Daily Mail which took it to extreme “How jewelers are fooling women by repackaging the common brown diamond as an expensive gem“.
What is all the fuss about?
According to Jezebel, they “uncovered” the truth behind the diamond industry’s best kept secret – What Chocolate Diamonds® really are… (here sarcasm is intended).
So, While I truly recommend reading both articles, I’ll try to summarize the points, putting order into things along with somewhat deeper understanding – removing the headline hunting and adding real valuable information.
I simply feel that there are misleading facts in the article that abuse brown diamonds and with them Le Vian.
Last small note…
Since the articles were published, we approached The Daily Mail and Jezebel (and writer) trying to tell the other side of the story. Unfortunately, to this point we did not get any response and therefore published it here…