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How Rare Are Red Diamonds: Unveiling Their True Scarcity

Marquise cut red diamond shown in the picture.
Red diamonds are extremely rare, with only a few known to exist. Their scarcity is due to a combination of factors including their unique geological formation process and the presence of a rare color-causing element. This rarity makes them highly sought-after and valuable in the world of diamonds.

Red diamonds are among the most elusive and valuable gemstones we can encounter. Their rarity is unparalleled, as they are the rarest of the colored diamonds. These precious stones are so scarce that their appearances in the market are events among themselves, often drawing significant attention from investors and collectors. Unlike other fancy colored diamonds that may exhibit a variety of secondary hues, red diamonds stand out for their pure coloration, lacking any such secondary tones.

We understand rarity by examining the occurrence and availability of these gems. Red diamonds are not typical finds; between 1957 and 1987, the Gemological Institute of America, which grades a substantial number of the world’s diamonds, did not record grading a single pure red diamond. This 30-year window of absence in the records underscores the exceptional nature of these gemstones. The sheer paucity of red diamonds renders them highly coveted pieces within the jewelry and investment sectors, often fetching prices that exceed most other diamonds on a per-carat basis.

As we assess the value of these gemstones, we find that the financial figures are as extraordinary as the stones themselves. Red diamonds command premium prices, as exhibited by notable sales such as the Hancock Red diamond, which set per-carat price records. When a red diamond is available for sale, its price can easily surpass hundreds of thousands of dollars per carat. This valuation reflects not only our fascination with their beauty but also their prestigious status as the pinnacle of rarity and luxury in the world of fancy colored diamonds.

Red Diamonds Overview


Red diamonds are among the rarest of gemstones, embodying exceptional color intensity and depth. We will explore their unique characteristics, formation, and why they hold the status of extreme rarity.

Definition and Characteristics

Red diamonds are a type of colored diamond distinguished by their captivating hue, which ranges from a deep purplish red to a vivid reddish pink. Their color is attributed to the diamond's structure and the way it absorbs light. In grading red diamonds, hue refers to the visible color, tone to the darkness or lightness of the color, and saturation to the color's intensity. These diamonds possess a singular color intensity that lacks secondary hues, setting them apart as fancy colored diamonds

Formation and Composition

Red diamonds are composed of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal lattice. Unlike other diamonds, the structure of a red diamond has undergone plastic deformation, which alters the path of light through the diamond and results in its characteristic red color. The formation of red diamonds is a rare occurrence, requiring not only the traditional high-pressure, high-temperature conditions that all diamonds need but also additional geological stresses that contribute to their unique coloration.

The Rarity of Red Diamonds

The extreme rarity of gem-quality red diamonds cannot be overstated. They are the rarest of the colored diamonds, a category already less common than their colorless counterparts. Historical data indicates that within a span of 30 years, no diamonds with a pure red color were graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), underscoring their scarcity. The rarity combined with their sought-after color intensity explains why red diamonds are so highly valued and coveted in the gemstone market. Their scarcity is such that coming across a red diamond with no other color modifiers is an exceptional event, resulting in exceptional prices at auction.

Grading and Evaluation

Best Color 💎

Colorless diamonds (D-F grade) are highly prized for their purity and rarity, allowing maximum light refraction and brilliance.

Worst Color 🟥

Diamonds with noticeable color (K-Z grade) are less desirable as the color can affect the overall appearance and brilliance.

Best Clarity 🔍

Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds have no visible inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification, making them extremely rare and valuable.

Worst Clarity 🔎

Diamonds with inclusions visible to the naked eye (I1, I2, I3) are less valuable and their clarity affects brilliance and appearance.

Most Used Carat 💍

The most popular carat weight for engagement rings is between 1 and 2 carats, balancing size, cost, and brilliance.

Top Cuts ✂️

The Round Brilliant cut is the most popular, known for its exceptional brilliance. Other top cuts include Princess, Emerald, and Cushion.

In the diamond industry, the rarity of red diamonds places a significant emphasis on their grading and evaluation process. We examine two crucial attributes: color grading, central to determining their classification as 'fancy red', and clarity, which influences their overall value.

Color Grading in Red Diamonds

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) utilizes a grading system that assesses the color of red diamonds based on three criteria: hue, tone, and saturation. Red diamonds are graded as 'Fancy' if they exhibit a certain level of color intensity, and they may receive additional modifiers such as 'Fancy Light' or 'Fancy Intense' to further specify this intensity.

Red diamonds that exhibit the purest red hue without secondary colors are exceptionally rare and are termed 'Fancy Red' by GIA standards.

Clarifying Red Diamonds

The clarity of a red diamond refers to the presence of inclusions or blemishes within or on the diamond, which are assessed under 10x magnification. Clarity grades range from Flawless (no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification) to I3 (inclusions and/or blemishes visible with the naked eye).

The clarity scale used by GIA for red diamonds is as follows:

  • FL (Flawless): No inclusions or blemishes.
  • IF (Internally Flawless): No inclusions and only insignificant surface blemishes.
  • VVS1 and VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included): Minute inclusions difficult for a skilled observer to detect.
  • VS1 and VS2 (Very Slightly Included): Minor inclusions observed with effort under 10x magnification.
  • SI1 and SI2 (Slightly Included): Noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification.
  • I1, I2, and I3 (Included): Inclusions that might be visible to the naked eye.

Our consistent observation reveals that red diamonds, due to their color saturation and rarity, can retain significant value despite a lower clarity grade, different from other less saturated diamonds.

Famous Red Diamonds

Moussaieff Red Diamond shown in the image


Red diamonds are among the most extraordinary and rare gems on Earth. In this section, we'll reveal some of the most renowned red diamonds that have captivated the market and collectors alike.

The Moussaieff Red Diamond

The Moussaieff Red Diamond is the largest graded red diamond in the world. Weighing in at 5.11 carats, this diamond boasts a triangular brilliant (trilliant) cut. Discovered by a Brazilian farmer in the 1990s, the rough stone originally weighed 13.9 carats. The esteemed gemstone was originally named Red Shield and later purchased by the notable diamond dealer Shlomo Moussaieff. Its unique hue and flawless internals make it a stand-out piece, and although the exact price is not publicly known, it is reported to have been sold for $8 million.

Other Notable Red Diamonds

  • The Hancock Red: Known for its intense color and historical significance, the Hancock Red is a fascinating story in the diamond industry. Selling at a staggering $880,000, which comes to $926,315 per carat at a Christie's auction in 1987, it set records and drew significant attention.

  • The Kazanjian Red Diamond: This 5.05-carat red gem was found in South Africa and acquired by an American jeweler. Its deep red color gives it a mysterious allure, and it has been displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

  • The Argyle Phoenix: As one of the prized offerings from the Argyle mine, known for producing 90% of the world's pink diamonds, the Argyle Phoenix is a collector's gem. It weighs 1.56 carats and exemplifies beauty in its rare red coloring.

Each of these diamonds embodies the uniqueness and rarity that are the hallmarks of red diamonds. The combination of scarcity, intense color, and extraordinary origins gives these stones their famed status and makes them some of the most sought-after jewels in the world.

Sources and Mining

An aerial view of red diamond mine covered in snow


In our exploration of red diamonds, we focus primarily on their scarce sources and the complexities of their mining processes. These remarkable gems have very specific geographic origins, and only a few mines globally have successfully yielded them.

Geographic Origins

Red diamonds are treasures that surface from select locations across the world. While diamonds are mined in various countries, brilliant red specimens have a much narrower range of provenance. Notably, significant finds of red diamonds have occurred in Brazil, particularly in the region of Minas Gerais, as well as in parts of India and Africa. Yet, none rival the concentration of red diamonds found in Australia's Argyle mine.

Major Red Diamond Mines

Argyle Mine: Situated in Western Australia, the Argyle diamond mine has been the preeminent source of red diamonds. Since its establishment, this mine has astoundingly produced a mere handful of red diamond carats, placing these gems in a class of their rarity.

  • Location: Western Australia
  • Notable for: Producing the majority of the world's red diamonds

Other Mines: Across the globe, other mines in Brazil, India, and Africa have sporadically uncovered red diamonds. However, these occurrences are few, and such mines are more renowned for other diamond hues than the illustrious red.

  • Brazil: Notable regions like Minas Gerais have a history of producing red diamonds.
  • India and Africa: These locations have contributed to the red diamond supply, but not to the extent or consistency of the Argyle mine.

Red Diamonds in the Market

A beautiful red diamond halo setting ring shown in the picture


In our analysis of the market, red diamonds stand out as some of the rarest and most sought-after gemstones. These fancy red diamonds command the highest prices per carat due to their rarity and the high interest from collectors and investors alike.

Red Diamonds as Investments

Red diamonds have garnered a reputation as a high-value investment within the gem market. Investors and collectors vie for these stones, recognizing that the scarcity of red diamonds can translate to significant value retention and potential appreciation. We observe that prices are influenced not only by the rarity of red diamonds but also by their carat weight, color intensity, and cut.

  • Rarity and Carat: The rarity factor cannot be overstated; The fewer that come to market, the greater the potential for value increase.
  • Cutting: Skilled cutting can enhance the stone's inherent beauty, making it more desirable to both collectors and investors.

Factors Influencing Value

When considering the value of red diamonds, several factors come into play, most notably their clarity and the presence of secondary hues.

  • Clarity: Just like with other diamonds, the fewer the inclusions, the higher the value assigned to a red diamond.
  • Fancy Colored Diamonds: Pure red diamonds, without any secondary color modifiers like brown, purple, or orange, are exceedingly rare and valuable.

To exemplify, a high-clarity, 0.71-carat fancy red diamond can fetch prices upward of $600,000. It's clear that in the realm of fancy colored diamonds, red diamonds hold a unique position that prompts strategic investment considerations.

Scientific Analysis

💎 Cut

The process of shaping a rough diamond into a polished gemstone, maximizing its brilliance and sparkle.

🌈 Color Enhancement

Techniques such as irradiation and annealing are used to alter a diamond's color, enhancing its appearance.

🔍 Clarity Enhancement

Methods like laser drilling and fracture filling are employed to improve a diamond's clarity by minimizing visible flaws.

🎨 Surface Coating

Thin layers of materials like diamond-like carbon (DLC) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) are applied to enhance color or disguise imperfections.

🔥 High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) Treatment

Simulates natural diamond-forming conditions to alter a diamond's color or clarity.

In exploring the rarity of red diamonds, we focus on the nuances of their atomic structure and any treatments they may undergo to alter their appearance.

Atomic Structure and Defects

Red diamonds owe their unique coloration to a specific atomic structure that includes the presence of certain crystal lattice defects. In the case of true red diamonds, plastic deformation of the crystal lattice plays a crucial role. This distortion involves slippages in the atomic array, modifying how light traverses the gemstone. While other colored diamonds might gain their hue from chemical impurities like nitrogen or boron, red diamonds do not. Instead, it's the structural anomalies within the diamond's crystal lattice that induce the red color.

Furthermore, we've discovered that these colored diamonds have come to exhibit their rare hue not just from defects caused by plastic deformation, but in some cases, they have connections to radiation exposure. Radiation can create vacancies and interstitials in the atomic grid, which contribute to the unique color. However, unlike blue diamonds that get their color from boron or yellow from nitrogen, red diamonds lack significant concentrations of these elements.

Treatment and Enhancement Processes

When it comes to enhancement processes, there are several treatments applied to diamonds in general that could modify red color. Irradiation followed by annealing at high temperatures can alter the diamond's color, potentially deepening it. It's also notable that techniques such as coating can be used to enhance the color of a diamond; however, these only have surface-level effects and do not change the internal properties of the diamond.

Lastly, we must differentiate natural red diamonds from synthetic diamonds. Synthetic versions can mimic the appearance of red diamonds but can be distinguished through careful analysis. In some cases, treatments such as irradiation or coatings can modify the color of both natural and synthetic diamonds. Here's a quick breakdown of the processes:

  • Irradiation: Alters the diamond's color by changing the positions of atoms within the lattice.
  • Annealing: Can further modify the color that has been changed through irradiation.
  • Coating: Applies a thin film to the diamond's surface, enhancing the color perception but not altering the stone's internal characteristics.

It is critical to recognize that any enhancement or treatment process must be disclosed during a diamond's sale to ensure transparency and maintain consumer trust.

Cultural and Historical Significance

A beautiful red diamond necklace shown in the image


As we examine the cultural and historical significance of red diamonds, it's evident that these rare gemstones are not just admired for their beauty, but also revered for their profound symbolism in various societies.

Red Diamonds in Jewelry and Art

In the realm of jewelry, red diamonds have been historically set apart by their scarcity and incredible demand. Being the pinnacle of fancy colored diamonds, these stones are often the centerpiece of high-value, sought-after pieces. Experts recognize red diamonds as among the most coveted and luxurious gemstones in the world. The rarity of this pure, intensely colored diamond ensures that it is a unique addition to any art or jewelry piece, capturing the imagination of artisans and collectors alike.

Art history occasionally references red diamonds, solidifying their stature as objects of desire and symbols of wealth and prestige. Although not as commonly depicted as their clear or blue counterparts, when featured, these gemstones symbolize a pinnacle of opulence and are often associated with the most revered and high-status individuals and entities in artworks.

Mystique and Symbolism

The allure of red diamonds encompasses a range of mystique and symbolism. The vibrant red hue of the diamond has been associated with love, power, and strength across various cultures, contributing to the stone's significance in cultural and historic narratives. The ruby, another famed red gemstone, has been historically confused with red diamonds due to their similar coloring, but experts in gemology can distinguish them by their distinctive physical properties.

Our fascination with red diamonds goes beyond the visual appeal, as these stones embody a certain mystery. Their formation process, which results in the captivating red color, is a natural marvel, making each faceted red diamond a testament to the mysterious wonders of the earth. This sense of mystery adds to the value and the prestige of owning a red diamond, as it is not just a gemstone but also a piece of natural art with an enigmatic backstory.

Ruby diamonds for sale

Frequently Asked Questions

As experts on red diamonds, we find certain questions arise time and again. Let's address these with clear, factual information.

What is the estimated number of red diamonds currently in existence?

We understand that red diamonds are exceedingly rare. It is estimated that fewer than 30 true red diamonds are known to exist worldwide, with very few being above half a carat.

Where in the world can red diamonds be found?

Our knowledge positions the Argyle mine in Western Australia as the most significant source of red diamonds. Although production ceased in 2020, this mine was the origin of the majority of the world’s supply.

What factors contribute to the rarity of red diamonds?

Red diamonds owe their extraordinary scarcity to their unique color, which results from a rare deformation in their atomic structure. This color is among the hardest to find in nature, making them very rare.

How does the value of red diamonds compare to other colored diamonds?

In the diamond industry, we recognize that red diamonds are the most valuable colored diamonds due to their rarity. They often command prices well above other colors, with values exceeding $1 million per carat for high-quality stones.

What are the largest red diamonds ever discovered?

Among the largest known red diamonds is the Moussaieff Red Diamond, weighing 5.11 carats. Another notable example is the Argyle Phoenix, a 1.56-carat gem from the renowned Argyle mine.

Who are some of the notable owners of red diamonds?

Due to their rarity, red diamonds are often owned by private collectors or exhibited in museums. One of the famous red diamonds, the Hancock Red, was sold at auction and has had various notable owners throughout history.

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