The imagery triggered by the words “champagne” and “diamond” is very clear and desirable to both men and women considering a romantic diamond purchase. The champagne diamond phenomenon launched in the 1990’s. To this day jewelers still receive requests for these signature diamonds.
Champagne diamonds are produced in one of the industry’s leading diamond mines, Australia’s Argyle Mine. While Argyle Mine produces many diamonds in the normal market range its output also includes a remarkable number of fancy colored diamonds. The rarest of these fancies are pinks and reds but a larger percentage of Argyle’s production is made up of diamonds in the color range known as “champagne”. This color range includes diamonds from the pinkish brown color scheme to brown.
In the 1990’s a worldwide promotional effort was made to heighten awareness of champagne diamonds with consumers and industry professionals alike. Leading jewelry designs, retailers, advertising, and media coverage was utilized to promote the champagne range of diamonds. While this broad promotion focused on the champagne color scheme, it did wonders for promoting diamonds in all ranges of color.
The motivating factor behind this launch was the official introduction of a new color scale specific to those described as champagne diamonds. It consisted of seven new grades, C1 through C7 running from light champagne to deep cognac. Many jewelry retailers will have a diamond pyramid in their stores that include this new color scale even if they do not sell champagne diamonds in their stores.
The unique range of colors in the champagne range comes from the unique chemistry and structure of the atoms within the crystal. Even tiny traces of other elements will change the coloration of a diamond. When a nitrogen atom replaces just one out of every 10,000 carbon atoms in a diamond, the stone will have a yellow tint. As the nitrogen concentration increases so does the diamond’s tint. Slight structural distortions can also cause coloring distortions in the brown, yellow, and green range.
Champagne and other colored diamonds are evaluated face up because this is the only way to obtain an accurate impression of the color. Because most fancy colors are rare, laboratories do not assign a grade to them. Instead, they describe the color by using words like “faint”, “light”, “dark”, “deep”, and “intense”. Laboratories have attempted to use machines like spectrophotomers and colorimeters but no machine has yet been able to evaluate color as effectively as the human eye.