Cognac And Champagne

These diamonds aren’t “brown”…they’re cognac. Which sounds WAY prettier.

When I took my engagement ring into the jeweler a couple of weeks ago, we played around with some different ideas for what to do with it. I knew I didn’t want to just replace the missing diamond – at the very least, I wanted all three stones to be the same size, which none of them were – but ended up deciding that I wanted to replace the three little diamonds with something more…interesting. I also knew I wanted to deal with the ugly black spots that had popped up on it, and had resigned myself to dipping it in a fresh coat of gold (thereby eradicating the tiny 1950s-era handmade etches all over its surface).

The jeweler shook a few colored gemstones out onto the countertop, but none of them seemed right; all the colored stones felt too…sweet. Like I’d get sick of them. So I started flipping through a book, and landed on a page covered in pictures of brown diamonds. “Those,” I said. “I love them.”

Here’s the deal with brown diamonds: they are 100% real diamonds, but the brown color comes from impurities in the stone (which you’ll find in any diamond up to the top-rated ones anyway). They suffered a bit of a PR hurdle back in the day, being…you know…brown, and kind of the opposite of what people are typically looking for when they’re diamond-shopping, but eventually people started appreciating their offbeat chic. They were repackaged as “cognac” (dark brown, usually with orange-y undertones) and “champagne” (light brown, with yellowish undertones) diamonds so that they’d sound more appealing, and now they’re all over the place.

I adore them. I think they’re unexpected and stylish, and I also love how they look caramel-y and warm against yellow gold (I don’t really like how they look paired with white gold, platinum, or even rose gold; they seem to clash to me). Here’s the best part: even though they’re more popular than they used to be (which isn’t saying much), they’re still in low enough demand that you can snag one for a FRACTION (really, like a teeny-tiny fraction) of the price of a white diamond.

Here’s my ring before: There’s a missing diamond, the other two diamonds were differently sized, and there were odd black-grey patches on it (that I had been told couldn’t be removed without re-dipping the ring):

what to do about black spots on a gold ring

And here’s the “after”:

yellow gold band with champagne diamonds

I had actually intended to get darker-brown cognac diamonds in my ring, but once I saw how the champagne diamonds looked against the gold – sort of sandy and warm, they almost disappear into the ring save for their sparkle – I decided to go with those. The total price for three diamonds and the labor: about $200. (Really.)

So we’ve established that cognac and champagne diamonds are chic and subtle and different, and all those things are good. But here’s another reason why you might want to consider a champagne or cognac diamond: They’re really good at looking like their more expensive counterparts. A light champagne diamond, for example, can easily pass for a pale yellow diamond. And if you’re doing a gold band with embedded diamonds, champagne diamonds look incredibly similar to white diamonds (but, again, are a fraction of the price).

If you need a few more reasons to consider one of these stones, here are twelve.



Mociun Luna Cluster Ring


Xiao Wang Galaxy Baguette Ring


Xiao Wang Gravity Spiral Ring


Cathy Waterman Cognac Solitaire


Penny Preville Champagne Diamond Eternity Band


Xiao Wang Gravity Solitaire Ring


Zales Champagne Solitaire Ring


Sethi Couture Champagne Diamond Band


David Yurman Cable-Wrapped Champagne Diamond and Citrine


Amour Heartbeat Diamond Ring


David Yurman Champagne Diamond and Citrine Ring


Carolina Bucci Champagne Diamond Stacking Ring

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