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Is there a difference between chocolate and brown diamonds?

You may hear diamonds of a brownish colouration referred to by a number of names – chocolate, Cognac and brown. These denote some differences in trademark, but, ultimately, they all refer to the same type of diamond. White diamonds are not the most numerous type of diamond – this would actually go to chocolate diamonds, or brown-coloured diamonds.

Historically, brown diamonds haven’t always been valued as highly as other types. As diamond sellers realised how to design for these kinds of diamonds, however, it expanded the number of styles and patterns in which diamonds could be used. Some of the most beautiful types of diamond designs are now done with these yellow-brown beauties. Where brown diamonds were typically once only used for industrial processes, consumer preference has changed in recent years to value the unique look of brown diamonds.


Names throughout history

Technically, ‘chocolate diamonds’ refer to brown diamonds used by a particular firm that has trademarked the phrase. Le Vian owns that particular phrase when it comes to describing them for sale. In the past, companies tried to describe yellow to brown diamonds along a very detailed scale. Original names included amber, Champagne, Cognac and chocolate diamonds, but one company named the shades themselves: cappuccino, caramel, cinnamon, clove, coffee, espresso, mocha, and tobacco were all used as terms.

Unfortunately, just as you might get confused when stepping into a new coffee shop where all the terms for the drinks are different from everything else you’re used to, customers became similarly stumped by the plethora of choices of brown diamonds. How could they compare and contrast between shops if they couldn’t begin to understand which descriptors mattered and which didn’t? As a result, companies learned to just stick with the more traditional colouration scale for describing diamonds. It’s simple and works with words customers already understand without having to learn whole new scales.


Shine like gold

Brown diamonds are particularly attractive when used in conjunction with white diamonds and platinum settings. The golden hue of the gem complementing a silver-coloured band sets off a marked juxtaposition to the traditional golden band and white stone. It stands out and offers a whole new way to look at diamonds.

Additional research has even gone into grasping why exactly these diamonds are brown. Irradiation, the presence of nickel, and differences in the formation are all believed to contribute to certain extents. There are many processes designed to influence this natural colour further. These include the application of high-pressure and high-temperature processes that heal inclusions in order to clarify the diamond.

Yet, other processes go the opposite route. Seeking to deepen the colour, irradiation treatments are used to bring it out even further. Companies must be honest if any process is used, so always ask in order to be sure if you have a preference.

Although there is no difference between chocolate and brown diamonds beyond the trademark used, these gemstones do come in a variety of hues. Light yellow-brown colours recall the glimmering gold on a sun-dappled pond, whereas deep, intense mocha hues can beckon the eye in a way few stones can. Just like clear diamonds, brown diamonds have their own unique design strengths.  

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