How to Buy a Brown Diamond – Everything you Need to Know

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It is imperative that you buy your diamonds from a reputable dealer that offers high-quality photos and GIA certification. We recommend James Allen and Blue Nile for their selection and excellent customer service. 

If you love chocolate, cognac, or champagne, you are sure to fall in love with brown diamonds! 

Today, you will learn how to buy a brown diamond. We will look at the various shades available in the brown diamond color range, and you will learn the factors you need to consider when evaluating brown diamonds. 

When we think of diamonds, our brain goes straight to colorless gems, but diamonds come in an array of colors! Brown diamonds are part of the family of fancy colored diamonds. They account for 15% of total diamonds mined and are the most common colored diamond. With so many color varieties to choose from, there's a brown diamond for every personality.

The old-school theory is that a diamond must be colorless and clear to be worth anything. Because of this, brown diamonds were not desirable for jewelry, and their sole purpose was for industrial use. 

But as the fashion industry evolved, a new wave of thought led people to break the monotony of white diamonds and opt for something unusual yet elegant. As a result, the demand for brown diamonds has soared, and there is a growing appreciation for them.

Nowadays, brown diamonds are greatly desired and used in various jewelry designs with collections ranging from gorgeous stud earrings to pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and engagement rings.

Watch: Brown Diamonds - The Sunset Diamonds

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How do Brown Diamonds get their Color?

Brown diamonds (along with pink and red diamonds) get their color from a process known as plastic deformation. It is a complicated process, but to put it simply, when a diamond forms, it is subject to intense pressure. This fierce pressure can cause changes in the internal structure of the diamond, affecting the way light is absorbed in the diamond and resulting in a brown color (known as 'brown graining'). 

In addition to strain (caused by plastic deformation), trace elements can create the appearance of brown color. The most common impurity, nitrogen, causes a slight to intense yellow coloration depending upon the type and concentration of nitrogen present.

Color Varieties of Brown Diamonds

Brown diamonds are found in high volume in the Argyle mine in Australia, making them the world's highest producer of brown diamonds.

The brown hue of brown diamonds can vary from a yellowish-brown to a deep chocolate brown shade. You will find brown diamonds under such appealing names as champagne diamonds, cognac diamonds, and chocolate diamonds. 

Champagne Diamonds

Champagne diamonds are brown diamonds with the lightest brown shade. They usually have a secondary hue of yellow, which may vary in intensity ranging from a light yellowish to a stronger shade.

Cognac Diamonds

Cognac diamonds are also brown diamonds. They are deeper browns and often found with a deep orange or red secondary hue. They can sometimes be found with even two or three secondary hues of pinks, greens, or purple. They are visibly darker than champagne diamonds.

Chocolate Diamonds

Chocolate diamonds are different from champagne or cognac diamonds for varied reasons. Most importantly, they are branded and trademarked by jewelry designer and manufacturer 'Le Vian'. They are darker brown. It is interesting to note that all brown diamonds are not chocolate diamonds. For a brown diamond to be branded as a chocolate diamond, it has to pass through a stringent selection process, including criteria such as color, clarity, size, and cut. Chocolate diamonds are far more expensive than other brown diamonds.

Watch: What are Chocolate Diamonds?

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Rarity and Pricing of Brown Diamonds

Diamonds are eternal, and each diamond is extraordinary in its own way.

Brown diamonds belong to the family of fancy colored diamonds, making them valuable. But, within the bracket of colored diamonds, brown diamonds are among the most common, making them less expensive and most affordable. However, some exceptions can make brown diamonds more valuable, such as brown with a secondary hue of reddish.

Of late, there has been a remarkable rise in demand for brown diamonds leading to a sharp increase in their prices. But still, the price for brown diamonds is much more affordable and cheaper than white diamonds. E.g., A 1-carat white diamond graded as F VS2 will cost around $4,000, whereas a 1-carat brown diamond pricing will begin at about $2,500 (which is almost half of white diamond).

The 4C's of Brown Diamonds

As with all diamonds, brown diamonds are assessed based on the 4 C's - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight. With fancy colored diamonds, the most critical factor is Color. Authentic brown diamonds will always have their color listed as brown on the certificate.

Brown Diamond Color Grading

Diamond color is evaluated based on three factors:

  • Hue – The color of the diamond. 
  • Tone – How light or dark the color is. 
  • Saturation – How intense the color is.

Like other fancy color diamonds, brown diamonds are graded based on color intensity. The GIA grades for brown diamonds are :

  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep or Fancy Dark

Prices go up with the color intensity of brown diamonds. The stronger the brown color, the more expensive the diamond is. Another significant factor is the presence of a secondary hue. The rarer the secondary hue is, the more expensive the diamond. E.g., a brown diamond with a secondary hue of pink or red will be priced competitively higher than the one with a yellowish secondary hue.

Brown Diamond Clarity

Although clarity is an essential factor in judging a diamond's quality, brown diamonds' advantage over other diamonds is that they are usually quite dark, making it hard to spot inclusions and hide flaws. Therefore, clarity is a factor that can be overlooked for brown diamonds.

Keep in mind that inclusions in the lighter-hued diamonds such as champagne and brown-pink diamonds will be more visible and affect the diamond's price.

When evaluating clarity, we recommend looking for an eye-clean diamond. In other words, to the naked eye, blemishes and inclusions should not be noticeable.

Brown Diamond Cuts

Cut is a crucial factor to consider as it is the cut that finally brings out the sparkling shine of a brown diamond making it more valuable. 

Radiant cuts will show a diamond's color, ideal for fancy color diamonds. For example, sparkly, radiant-cut champagne diamonds can have a warm, golden hue–perfect for a sophisticated look.

Carat Weight of Brown Diamonds 

As with colorless diamonds, the larger the diamond, the more expensive it is. However, unlike colorless diamonds, the price per carat of brown diamonds doesn't skyrocket as carat size increases. 

If you want to get the best value for your money, remember that carat refers to weight, not size. So you can buy a stone just under 1 carat with hardly any noticeable difference in appearance but with a considerable price difference.

Metal Choices for Brown Diamonds

Brown, an earthy color, evokes a sense of strength and reliability.

Brown diamonds can look gorgeous when paired with complementing metals. For example, white gold and platinum settings work wonders for brown diamonds. These metals highlight and enhance the color of the diamond further. Alternatively, they can be set in yellow gold or rose gold for an impressive earthy appeal.  

The Meaning Of a Brown Diamond

Most of the symbolic meanings attributed to brown diamonds are associated with the color brown in general. 

Brown symbolizes balance, grounding, peace, reliability, elegance, healing, resilience, stability, honesty, and warmth. It is a solid and steady color, like the Earth around us.

Brown Diamond Engagement Ring Settings

The right pairing and setting can enhance the look of a brown diamond engagement ring, making it a ring that you will admire and cherish for a lifetime.

  • Side stone setting: Brown diamonds can be highlighted by adding two colorless diamonds on either side, bringing an additional style.
  • Halo setting: Surrounding a brown diamond with small colorless diamonds can create a magnificent effect and highlight the center stone.
  • Solitaire setting: A solitaire setting will make a brown diamond the center of attention. Pairing with white gold or platinum will create a contrasting effect and highlight the brown diamond.
  • Pave setting: Pave setting with smaller stones lining the engagement ring's band can maximize the stone's brilliance.

Natural vs. Color Enhanced Brown Diamonds

Diamonds that form a brown shade during their formation within the Earth are natural brown diamonds. On the contrary, color-enhanced brown diamonds are also natural diamonds but have undergone various treatments to appear brown. Such treatments, usually irradiation, transform the otherwise colorless or lighter shaded brown diamond into the desired shade of brown. These treatments are typically permanent and do not damage the diamond's chemical structure.

Because brown diamonds aren't very costly, it's often a better idea to purchase a natural stone rather than synthetic or enhanced versions.

Alternatives to Brown Diamonds

Brown tourmaline, brown topaz, brown citrine, andalusite, and smoky quartz are the closest natural alternatives; however, they are all much softer than diamonds. You might want to consider other gemstones such as mahogany obsidian, tiger's eye, fire agate, or chocolate opal, but these are typically opaque and don't look like diamonds.

How to Buy a Brown Diamond

Here are the steps to buying a brown diamond:

  1. Start with budget - diamond pricing varies so much that you will want a budget in place before you start. 
  2. Decide what cuts and shapes you prefer. 
  3. What carat size are you wanting? Anything below 1 carat will be most affordable. 
  4. Go to James Allen or Blue Nile and browse colored diamonds to estimate cost and sizes. 
  5. Decide on a cut or shape and carat size.
  6. Be sure to purchase from a seller that includes GIA certification. 

Where to Shop for Brown Diamonds

James Allen

We recommend buying diamonds from reputed sellers who provide GIA certificates and let you see their diamonds in 360 high-definition. One trusted source is James Allen.

James Allen has revolutionized the way people buy engagement rings and diamond jewelry. They are considered one of the premier diamond engagement ring retailers in the world. With 18+ years of experience, they are the leader in online diamond sales. You can be sure to buy the best diamond at the best price at James Allen.

Click here to visit James Allen and become a proud owner of this new color of luxury!

Blue Nile

Another excellent online seller is Blue Nile. Blue Nile provides exceptional diamond buying tips and unbiased diamond and jewelry education guides. In addition, diamond and jewelry experts are available 24/7 to answer all questions.

Blue Nile stands behind its products with industry-leading Diamond Certification, secure delivery, 30-day returns, and lifetime guarantees.

Visit Blue Nile today!


Another fantastic place to shop for brown diamond jewelry is Etsy. There you can find handmade jewelry that is sure to set you apart from the crowd. Browse Etsy Now!

Share the Knowledge

3 thoughts on “How to Buy a Brown Diamond – Everything you Need to Know”

  1. Hi Andrea! Brown diamonds, okay wow, I have never heard of them before. As they seems to be somewhat priced half of what “white” diamonds are, this could be option for me to buy. I checked your Etsy link and found some really nice looking jewelry there. Let me try to find something nice for my wife.

    Br, Markus

  2. Hello Andrea,

    this article is really educational, especially the part of factors one has to consider when evaluating and purchasing brown diamonds. It’s a must to learn and know more about a product before deciding to actually buy the product. It is a really great review, to this day I did not know there was so much to learn about diamonds. You are right when someone mentioned diamonds I thought of a colorless gem.


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