How Much is the Legendary Hancock Red Diamond Worth?

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August 10

Named after its previous owner, Warren Hancock, the Hancock Red diamond is a fancy purplish red round brilliant-cut diamond weighing 0.95 carats. Despite its modest size and apparent clarity characteristics, its radiant red hue makes it a remarkable gem.

The Hancock Red diamond commanded $880,000 at the Christie's New York auction in 1987. The diamond fetched $926,315 per carat, making it the most expensive per-carat price paid at auction for a gemstone.

Consequently, the previous record for the highest per carat price paid for a diamond at auction was $127,000 PPC for a 7.27-carat, fancy pink diamond in 1980.

The Hancock Red held the record for the highest price per carat paid for a diamond at auction until October 2007. That's when Sotheby's sold a 6.04-carat, fancy blue, internally flawless diamond for USD 1.3 million per carat (totaling $7,981,835.00).

Incredibly rare Hancock Red Diamond weighing 0.95 carats, photo by Tino Hammid, courtesy GIA.

Hancock Red Diamond, Photo Tino Hammid, GIA

The Hancock Red Diamonds' Enchanting Allure

According to legend, Montana collector, Warren Hancock, purchased the "Hancock Red Diamond" in Brazil for $13,500 in 1956. Reportedly, Hancock's collection featured several fancy-colored diamonds from Brazil.

Given the record price, it surprises many that the Hancock Red diamond contains inclusions visible without magnification. However, the gem's value depends more on the purplish-red fancy color than the clarity.

What Makes Diamonds Red?

Red diamonds are the rarest fancy-colored diamonds of natural origin and are reportedly pure carbon. There has been much debate over the cause of the fancy red color. However, it's generally agreed upon that the red color results from structural anomalies and deformation of the atomic structure.

Unlike blue and yellow fancy-colored diamonds, the color does not result from impurities like boron or nitrogen. Red diamonds are extremely scarce to the extent that less than thirty are known to exist, and the majority weighs less than half a carat.

The De Young Red is an exception, which weighs 5.03-carats but exhibits a slightly brownish hue similar to a garnet. The brown overtones make it less desirable than the Hancock's purplish-red hue, which resembles a gem-quality ruby.

The incredibly rare 5-carat, De Young Red diamond exhibit garnet-like coloration.

De Young Red Diamond • Smithsonian

A Palette of Fancy-Colored Diamonds

While red diamonds are the pinnacle of rarity, the spectrum of fancy-colored diamonds is vast.

  • Black Diamonds: Owe their color to dark mineral inclusions like graphite.
  • Blue Diamonds: Boron impurities lend them their calming hue.
  • Brown and Champagne Diamonds: Their shades are due to lattice irregularities and nickel impurities.
  • Green Diamonds: Natural radiation causes their color.
  • Pink Diamonds: Their color likely results from structural anomalies.
  • Yellow Diamonds: Nitrogen impurities result in their sunny appearance.

Each color has its unique origin and allure, making the world of fancy diamonds a fascinating realm of nature's artistry.

Where to Buy Red Diamonds

The Hancock Red diamond is more than a rare gem; it's a testament to nature's ability to enchant and mesmerize us. And while red diamonds like the Hancock are astronomically expensive, the broader spectrum of fancy-colored gems offers affordable alternatives.

First, there is a broad range of colors in various hues and saturation, each with its own story and charm. Lab-created colored diamonds are available in a rainbow of colors and cost a fraction of natural gems. Alternatively, many buy fancy-colored gemstones to create a similar impression for a more affordable price.

Stunning Fancy Purplish Red diamond, 0.68 carats, SI2 clarity, from Leibish.

Radiant Cut Purplish Red Diamond • Leibish

Dive deeper into this spectrum by exploring the variety of fancy-colored diamonds and gems from these preferred sources:

Create the Look of the Hancock Red Diamond for Less

The Hancock Red Diamond is renowned for its vibrant purplish-red hue and rare natural origin. Red diamonds represent the pinnacle of rarity and are a testament to nature's splendor. However, only some can afford to spend $880,000 on something slightly smaller than the eraser on a #2 pencil.

Fortunately, the advent of technology provides us with affordable lab-grown alternatives that look amazing. Lab-created colored diamonds come in vibrant colors, including blue, green, pink, orange, red, and yellow.

These lab-grown diamonds reflect their natural counterparts' chemical and physical properties, offering ethical and cost-effective options for enthusiasts. This fancy red lab-grown diamond from Brilliant Earth weighs 1.30 carats and costs less than $5K.

Sensational lab-created fancy red diamond from Brilliant Earth with similar properties to the Hancock Red Diamond.

Fancy Red Lab-created Diamond • Brilliant Earth

About the Author

Dive deep into the glittering world of diamonds with Todd Gray, the CEO of Gray Matter Development, LLC. Todd has 35+ years of experience as a diamond buyer and trade consultant. He ghostwrites content for several online vendors and is an avid Freediver, currently exploring the Cenotes of Yucatan, Mexico. Dive into brilliance with Todd Gray!