The shapes that show off color best are radiant, oval and pear. "The light is able to travel through [those shapes] at a slower rate," explains Bhandari, noting that it thereby produces a more intense viewing experience. A round diamond, by comparison, "is designed to draw in light, reflect and refract it right back to your eye." Though colored diamonds can be cut into round, emerald and princess shapes, they don't hold color as well, and in many cases, "they'll actually demand a premium in the marketplace because you need much stronger, much better [raw] material in order to get the same quality stone," notes Jordan Fine, vice president of Amgad, a cutter and wholesaler of colored diamonds.
Women who long to wear massive chunks of ice on their fingers should stay away. Because fancy colored diamonds can rarely be found in double-digit carat sizes, purchasing one can be a downright discreet move. "It's not for somebody who needs everybody else to know what it is," says Russell Zelenetz, co-owner of Madison Avenue jeweler Stephen Russell. "[You must have] deep pockets, and you have to have an understanding [of it] because not everybody will get it." For example, a two-carat fancy vivid blue diamond could cost up to $3 million at Graff, whereas a two-carat D-flawless white diamond tops out at $90,000.
In the end, all of our experts espoused the same advice: Buy the color you love, buy the best you can afford and invest now before it's too late. "It's almost like looking at a relatively ordinary Picasso," Barguirdjian says of the comparison between white and colored diamonds. "It's still a Picasso, but it will sell for a few hundred thousand dollars or $1 million. Then you get a masterpiece that, as we have seen in auction last year, goes for over $100 million. So the difference with the [white and] colored diamonds is in the same vein."