Now that jewelers are discovering the joys of jet colors in diamonds, Beverly Hills diamond dealer and jewelry designer Alan Friedman thinks they ought to get wise to the far deeper satisfactions of silver shades. “I’ve never carried black diamonds,” he says. “They’re opaque and lack the diamond’s defining sparkle and fire.” Worse, most black diamonds are now irradiated—often without this fact being disclosed.
Mindful that a growing number of consumers want natural-color diamonds which combine metallic hues and mirror-sharp brightness, Friedman is using an increasing number of stones with what he calls “silver tones.” Such diamonds run a color gamut from lighter shades of pewter and nickel to deeper ones of lead and graphite—all of which can be grouped under the lively heading of silver.
Thinking of diamonds as silver in appearance takes some getting used to—but only if you’re thinking of conventional white stones. Silver diamonds are a distinctly different breed. “There is a tendency to view gray diamonds as off-color and not worthy of serious consideration,” says New York fancy color diamond specialist Bruce Smith. “That’s a very negative way to see them.”
Perhaps if jewelers saw silver diamonds more often, they would entertain more positive feelings about them. Unfortunately, they are rare. If, by chance, retailers see any, they probably hear them called by their more common gemological name of “fancy gray” diamonds. Besides being drab, the term “fancy gray” sounds like an oxymoron. That’s why we prefer the stagier name of “silver diamonds.” It’s more dynamic and just as apt. Why? Because it identifies these stones as being part of a unique palette of colors between white and black and makes a virtue of it.
At their best, silver diamonds burst with brilliance in a way author Stephen Hofer likens to the sheen of a highly polished sword in his indispensable guide, Collecting and Classifying Coloured Diamonds. (I strongly recommend that jewelers consult this book each time they decide to buy a particular color of diamond for the first time.) In his detailed discussion of gray diamonds, Hofer notes that the ancient Hindus separated gray from white diamonds and thought wearing either brings good fortune.
But that was 3,000 years ago. Today, jewelers are steeled against the darker pleasures of fancy gray diamonds. Scaredy-cat dealers bear most of the blame. “If a market is to be made in silver diamonds, it will be made by designers,” says Smith. Friedman agrees and is designing jewelry which makes the case for fancy gray diamonds as well as anyone ever has.
The Power of Contrast
Fancy gray covers a surprisingly wide span of neutral, or non-spectral, hues whose deepening tones Hofer compares to the progression of the sky’s colors on a day which goes from overcast to rainy. As the sky becomes increasingly stormy, clouds darken in color from faint shadowy to full cloudburst grays. Incredibly, you can find diamonds with pure-gray shades that parallel each stage of such days. The analogy with what is often turbulent weather captures the fairly extensive color scope as well as the drama of these diamonds.