Fancy diamonds: a precious rainbow

Fancy diamonds have illuminated Van Cleef & Arpels creations since the 1920s. Exhibiting a broad spectrum of nuances, they punctuate the Maison’s history, from legendary stones to exceptional special orders.

These gems, which are sometimes as hard and brilliant as colorless diamonds, are known as “fancy diamonds.” Prized for the depth of their natural color, they are exceedingly rare and thus all the more remarkable.

These diamonds are not classified according to clarity, but first and foremost for the intensity of their hue. They fall into the following categories: Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Dark and Fancy Deep. Those that present a secondary nuance are described as brownish-yellow, grayish-blue, etc.

Some fancy diamonds have left an indelible mark on the history of the Maison. In 1953, Van Cleef & Arpels acquired the “Blue Heart,” an exceptional 30.32-carat diamond that stands out for the purity of its essence, its incomparable radiance and its deep blue color. The Maison sold the stone to Harry Winston in 1960. Today, it belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.


Another singular gem is the 96.62-carat briolette-cut yellow diamond owned by Polish opera singer Ganna Walska in the 1930s, acquired by Jacques Arpels in 1971 and resold the following year. Its new owner asked the Maison to combine this exceptional stone with a bird of yellow gold, emeralds, and sapphires to celebrate of the birth of his son.

  • Bird clip and Walska pendant, 1971-1972, Van Cleef & Arpels collection, Patrick Gries © Van Cleef & Arpels SA

    Bird clip and Walska pendant, 1971-1972, Van Cleef & Arpels collection, Patrick Gries © Van Cleef & Arpels SA