What is a Brown Diamond? (Is It Worth Buying?)

Wondering what's all the commotion about brown diamonds? Should you get in on this trend?

You're in the right place. In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the top questions asked about brown diamonds, like:

what is a brown diamond
  • Are brown diamonds rare?
  • What are chocolate diamonds?
  • Are brown diamonds mined or created?

What is a Brown Diamond?

A brown diamond is any fancy colored diamond with a brownish colored hue. Brown diamonds can come in different shades from a very light brown to a deep, almost black-brown color. Some brown diamonds may be yellowish brown, pink-brown, or orangey-brown.

brown diamond asscher ring

One of the coolest things to learn about colored diamonds is how they get their color. Not all diamond colors comes have the same origin. A brown diamond received its color as a result of plastic deformation in the diamond crystal lattice.

The stress of a diamond pressure is said to create graining, which makes the color appear brown when light passes through the diamond. As different wavelengths are absorbed through the light, we see these as brown diamonds.

The interest in finding alternative colored stones for engagement rings as opposed to colorless stones has been gaining popularity. Brown stones are among the most affordable fancy diamond colors to a colorless stone.

Where Are Brown Diamonds Found?

The most popular brown diamonds come from the famous Argyle Mine. Though not renown for its brown diamonds, the Argyle mine is home of the world's best pink diamonds and incredibly rare red diamonds. As of 2020, the Argyle mine is closed.

brown diamond from Argyle Mine

credited to: James St. John

Other notable places your brown diamond engagement ring could come from include Brazil, Congo, Angola, or Borneo. However, most brown diamonds from from the Australian Argyle mines.

Brown Fancy Colored Diamonds vs Tinted Brown Colorless Diamonds

Brown fancy color diamonds aren't the same as tinted brown diamonds. Fancy color diamonds are intentionally colored, while tinted brown diamonds are considered lower on the GIA's color grade scale. When choosing colorless diamonds, you don't want any brown tint in your diamond whatsoever.

What are Chocolate Diamonds?

A "chocolate diamond" is a market name, made famous by designer brand, LeVian. The term is used to give it a marketable name besides calling them brown diamonds. Brown isn't the most appealing color to the industry, so associating it with everyone's favorite brown food was genius. The company uses the term chocolate diamonds to describe any brown diamonds set in Le'vian's brown diamond jewelry collection.

levian wedding band chocolate diamonds

Le'vian may have some beautiful brown diamond jewelry pieces, but the price inflation is ridiculous. As a designer brand, you're paying for both the name as well as their markup costs on brown diamonds. Simply put, Le'Vian charges way more for their brown diamond rings and jewelry designs than other retailers. However, they're the biggest name in brown diamonds, thanks to places like Kay and Jared. These retailers are also notorious for their outrageous markup costs.

Chocolate Diamonds vs Champagne Diamonds

In the jewelry industry, there's a distinction between different shades of brown diamonds. Though Le'Vian may have been the first to use chocolate diamonds as a marketing term, it's also been a general coined term for fancy dark brown diamonds. Sometimes even all brown diamonds in general.

princess cut chocolate diamond

Champagne diamonds fall under fancy light brown diamonds. Just like a chocolate diamond, a champagne diamond must have fancy light brown hue throughout the entire diamond, with the same saturation and intensity in every area.

champagne diamond leibish & co

Though the name champagne is given a light brown diamond in general, the more expensive champagne diamonds have a secondary light yellow hue.

Chocolate Diamonds vs Cognac Diamonds

Another brown diamond term you may hear of are cognac diamonds. These brown diamonds draw a fine line between a fancy deep brown diamonds and fancy dark colored diamonds.

radiant cognac diamond

Many people will confuse a "chocolate" colored diamond with cognac diamond jewelry. It's not a surprise though, because there's no exact science to which side a fancy dark or deep diamond should fall on. Still, most brown diamonds will fall under one of the three brown color diamond names.

Since both chocolate diamonds and cognac diamonds encompass the darker fancy brown hues, the line is very blurred. However, most brown diamonds with dark brown tones and a secondary tone of orange or pink are considered cognac colored.

Are Brown Diamonds Expensive or Cheap?

Brown diamonds are one of the many shades of colored diamonds. Overall colored diamonds are very, very expensive. Certain fancy colors can cost thousands more than colorless diamonds of the same quality, even if they have the lightest shade of colors. Fancy blue diamonds and fancy pink diamonds are the most expensive fancy color shades out there.

Brown diamonds are relatively expensive. A one carat light brown diamond usually costs close to the same as an eye clean near colorless diamond of the same carat weight. If you're looking for a brown diamond ring with high quality dark brown stones, you'll find it costing 3x more than that same colorless diamond.

Overall, you should expect champagne diamonds to cost less than chocolate or cognac colored stones.

Are Brown Diamonds Rare?

So, you want to know if brown diamonds are worth anything? Well, listen up.

Brown diamonds are colored diamonds, so they have worth. All colored diamonds are worth a decent amount of money. In fact, colored diamonds are the only diamonds really worth investing in.

That being said, brown diamonds aren't as rare as other fancy colored diamonds. Both brown diamonds and yellow diamonds are considered the more affordable colors in diamonds. However, fancy yellow diamonds with intense shades and saturation can go for a lot of money depending on carat weight. You may hear these referred to as canary diamonds. 

yellow diamond price

Brown tint and yellow tint is pretty common in mined diamonds. When searching for colorless diamonds in the rough, miners come into contact with a lot of tinted diamond rough. However, it's rarer to find brown tinted diamond rough that has consistent hue and saturation in the diamond crystal. The bigger the carat weight and the darker the brown stone is, the more rare and valuable. Stones with strong secondary hues tend to also go for more.

Are Lab Created Brown Diamonds Real?

Though most places that sell brown diamonds sell mined brown diamonds, there are synthetic diamonds available in yellow brown, pink brown, and orange brown hues too. Lab created brown diamonds are much less valuable than natural ones of the same quality and brown color. They are real brown diamonds and have the same properties as a natural brown colored diamond.

However, it's not likely you'd notice a difference between these two brown diamonds other than hue. A fancy vivid brown diamond that has been lab created can be up to 30% less expensive than a natural one of the same fancy brown hue.

Brown diamonds in large carat weights can cost a fortune. The most famous brown diamond in history is the Golden Jubilee Diamond. It is a 545.67 carat weight brown diamond cut by Gabi Tolkowsky. The Tolkowsky family is also responsible for creating the ideal cut round brilliant diamond.

The Golden Jubilee diamond is the largest faceted diamond in the world and is part of the crown jewelry pieces of Thailand.

Best Place to Buy Brown Diamonds?

If you're looking for a reliable fine jewelry retailer to buy brown diamonds online, I have a few options you should check out.

For the most affordable fancy brown diamonds, I recommend checking out James Allen's inventory. They offer crystal clear 360 video on all their brown diamonds, so you can really get a feel for a brown diamond's sparkle and beauty.

They carry over 50 loose diamonds of different brown hues and intensities. The price may be as low as $3000 per carat to as high as $7000 per carat. Every brown diamond ring from James Allen comes with a lifetime warranty for the ring setting as well as a diamond certificate from an independent gemological laboratory.

If you're looking for high-quality brown fancy color diamonds, Leibish and Co. is an excellent option. They have one of the biggest selections of colored diamonds online. They also carry semi-precious colored stones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires with high color intensity.

You can select their Champagne Diamonds tab under their colored diamonds page and be brought to a variety of natural brown diamonds of various brown colors and intensities. Fancy intense brown diamonds are available as well as fancy deep brown diamond shades of cognac diamonds. And of course, the yellowish brown hues desired by champagne diamond seekers.

Though the price of a genuine brown diamond is more expensive at Leibish than James Allen, the gem quality and of these natural diamonds are truly a sight to behold. All of the brown diamonds are GIA certified diamonds.

Best Diamond Shape for Brown Diamonds?

You may know that the best diamond shape for colorless diamonds is round cut because of their exact proportions and symmetry, which result in the ultimate light performance if cut well.

The same does not go for brown diamonds, or any fancy color diamonds for that matter. Round cut diamonds are meant to have superior sparkle and brilliance, with tons of white and rainbow light.

For a colored diamond, the diamond color is the star of the show. If a round diamond is mean to reflect more white light, the brown color of the diamond would have white light interfering with its hue. The same is true for all fancy color diamonds. A halo setting would combat this, with a circle of white diamonds around the brown diamond center of your engagement ring.

Fancy diamond shapes are recommended for colored diamonds. Shapes with larger surface areas like radiant cut diamonds or emerald cut diamonds are ideal for showing off color intensity in engagement rings.

Conclusion

A brown diamond ring can be an excellent colored diamond alternative to a traditional colorless diamond engagement ring. They have the same physical properties as colorless diamonds, which means they can be worn daily without fear of damage.

With brown diamonds, you have the option of choosing from three main categories: champagne, cognac, or chocolate diamonds. If looking for dark colored chocolate diamonds, I'd avoid the major player in them, Le'Vian. Their pieces are beautiful, but overpriced. You also have more options when you create your brown diamond ring online.

The cost of a brown diamond mostly depends on the intensity of its hue as well as the carat weight. You can expect brown diamonds under 1ct to cost the same amount as a high quality colorless diamond of the same grade. Some brown diamonds with rich brown colors and over 2 carats may range from $7-25,000.

Warm colored stones like brown diamonds can look great in any colored metal. However, a yellow gold or rose gold ring setting will especially complement the tone. Rose gold is a perfect choice for cognac diamond jewelry as well.

I hope you had all your questions asked about brown diamonds and can now tell the difference between the three main shades of them. Brown diamonds may not be the rarest, but they can also be overcharged. Make sure to compare the quality and prices before making your final choice.


Meet Your Jewelry Expert

Learn More About Jewelry

Want to learn more about jewelry? Check out these other helpful resources written by our jewelry experts!

Ask Your Jewelry Question Here

We are a team of jewelry experts who will teach you to identify scams and avoid spending money on features you can’t see.

Tell us as much information as possible to help us help you (ie, budget, preferences, etc.)