Champagne DiamondChampagne Diamond

Beauty is a powerful thing - almost as powerful as semantics. There's hardly better evidence for this than the surging popularity of champagne diamonds - colored diamonds that in actuality, are brown diamonds with a luxe name and a yellowish shade.

As alluring and sought after as champagne diamonds are today, they weren't always so appreciated.

With some cutting, polishing and an elaborate marketing campaign, these stones have come a long way. Here's their sparkling story.

What are Champagne Diamonds?

The truth is, in the past, natural fancy brown diamonds weren't especially trendy. However, champagne diamonds have managed to gain increasing attention in recent years from collectors and investors.

When Rio Tinto's Argyle Mine determined that nearly half of the stones in their deposit were brown, it was clear that some marketing tactics were required to alter consumers' perceptions about these colored diamonds. They coined the term "champagne diamonds," which suggested an air of luxury, elegance and affluence like the celebratory beverage they were named after.

"Brown is beautiful, but no match for bubbly," Modern Jeweler explained.
Champagne Diamonds ParcelParcel of Champagne Diamonds – From Industrial to Fashionable

Unsurprisingly, sales for these diamonds gradually and steadily increased.

All natural fancy colored diamonds get their color due to an element's presence in the crystal structure, which affect the way light absorbs. Champagne diamonds in particular contain nitrogen, which is trapped during the diamonds' formation. The more nitrogen, the deeper the intensity of the brown color, and vice versa.

So what is the champagne color? It's a light brown, typically with a secondary tone of yellow. Interestingly, according to Diamonds With A Story, champagne diamonds are particularly challenging to polish due to their stressed crystalline structure, abnormal shapes and sometimes etched surfaces. To overcome this obstacle, Rio Tinto's Argyle Mine developed special programs in India for successfully polishing champagne diamonds, thus revealing their maximum potential beauty.

Argyle Champagne Diamonds

The majority of champagne diamonds are unearthed from the Argyle Diamond Mine in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Billions of years ago, kimberlite and lamproite diamond ore pipes were formed due to a combination of intense pressure and heat, and volcanic eruptions pushed them up through the Earth's surface.

The Argyle Mine is responsible for producing a large percentage of the world's colored stones, including their signature pink diamonds. In the case of champagne diamonds, though, nitrogen was present during formation.

Grading Champagne Diamonds Color

You will never see the word "champagne" on a grading report from the Gemological Institute of America. Instead, the color would be described as fancy light yellow brown, fancy yellowish brown, or a similar phrase that indicates the hue and intensity.

On the other hand, The Argyle Mine has devised a different color scale specifically to grade champagne diamonds, which ranges from C1 to C7. C1 to C2 are a light champagne, C3 to C4 are medium champagne, C5 to C6 are dark champagne, and C7 is considered "cognac.'

Champagne Diamonds Champagne Diamonds from Light C1 to Dark C6-C7
GIA graded as Fancy Light Yellow Brown, Fancy Yellow Brown and Fancy Dark Yellowish Brown

Champagne Diamonds Value

As with other colored diamonds, the color and its strength of hue is the most significant factor in determining the value. In general, the darker and rare cognac diamonds come at the highest cost, while champagne diamonds on the lighter end of the spectrum (C1 to C3) are more common to come by and therefore less expensive.

Still, the price of these diamonds on the whole is typically much lower than other popular fancy colors, such as pink or blue and even yellow. Economic conditions played a big part in supplementing Argyle's efforts to increase the popularity of champagne diamonds: These stones were an affordable alternative to white diamonds. And the price difference between champagne and white diamonds only gets bigger and noticeable with their size.

Since many jewelers use the term "champagne" to make a low-quality diamond look more attractive, it's best to always acquire one with a gemological certificate - ideally from the GIA - so that you have assurance of the stone's actual color and value.

As previously mentioned, a major reason why champagne diamonds became an appealing alternative to the traditional white diamonds is that they were less costly.

In addition to their affordability, though, they are remarkably versatile. They can easily transition from day to night, and match a wide range of apparel as they are a neutral and timeless tone.

Famous Champagne Diamonds

Golden Jubilee DiamondGolden Jubilee Diamond

There's no doubt that one of the most well-known champagne diamonds is the Golden Jubilee. Weighing in at a whopping 545.67 carats (and 755 carats in the rough), it's the largest faceted diamond in the world. Discovered in South Africa's Cullinan Diamond Mine in 1985, it was given to the King of Thailand in 1997 to celebrate his reign. Before that, it was merely known as the "Unnamed Brown." It is estimated to be worth between $5 million and $12 million.

Another famous champagne diamond is the Golden Pelican. This 69.93-carat stone, which was also discovered in South Africa, is a rectangular emerald-cut. It has been mounted into a 14-karat gold band, which was auctioned off by Christie's in the 1970s. Its estimated current value is approximately $3 million.

Celebrities and Champagne Diamonds

Maria Menounos wearing Champagne DiamondsMaria Menounos wearing Champagne Diamonds

A major reason that champagne diamonds have been gaining vogue is that they have been embraced by some of the most fashion-forward A-list celebrities. In fact, you're bound to see them on the red carpet at any major Hollywood awards show or event.

For example, the Champagne Diamond Center noted that E! reporter Maria Menounos donned a gown that had 2,000 champagne diamonds totaling 3,000 carats woven into it at the 2004 Academy Awards. The dress was worth a jaw-dropping $2.5 million.

At the 2007 Academy Awards, Jennifer Lopez stunned attendees with a striking pair of 20-carat gray and champagne diamond earrings. Meanwhile, Hilary Swank drew attention to her hairdo with a 20-carat champagne diamond briolette. When Helen Mirren accepted her Oscar for Best Actress, she was wearing a stunning 62-carat oval-shaped white and cognac diamond brooch on the back of her gown. At the same time, Cameron Diaz turned heads with a 20-carat cognac diamond ring, which perfectly complemented her Prada dress, and Best Supporting Actress winner Jennifer Hudson wowed the crowd with a champagne diamond ring.

At the MTV Video Music Awards, both Jessica Simpson and Ashanti sported champagne diamond hoop earrings. Additionally, according to the Champagne Diamond Center, the singer Kathleen York, otherwise known as "Bird," celebrated her first Oscar nod by rocking an awe-inspiring pair of 20-carat hand-set natural champagne and cognac diamond earrings. British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield donned a $1 million diamond necklace studded with champagne, pink and cognac diamonds to attend an Academy Awards after party.