fancy, noun

EnglishShow more From elliptical use of general English adjective: see earliest quotations for each sense.
1. Ostrich-farming. byock.
[c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 81Sort first into heaps consisting fancy-coloured, and second fancy-coloured.]
1909 J.E. Duerden in Agric. Jrnl of Cape of G.H. XXXIV. 523If the blacks show much admixture of white, they are placed among the fancies.
1930 M.F. Wormser Ostrich Indust. in S. Afr. 11Towards the end of the series of wing quills, 3 or 4 plumes of the cock, instead of being pure white, are a particolour of black and white; these are called fancies or byocks.
2. Diamond-trade. A diamond of gemstone quality, of a colour other than pure white or blue-white. Also attributive.
Not exclusively South African English.
[1870 E. Prov. Herald 12 Aug.Diamonds are found every day...By far the prettiest is of a greenish colour — a beautiful fancy gem.]
[1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 123Many tinted stones are found, from the faintest tinge of yellow, green or bluish and but rarely rose, to the full coloured positive shades of orange, blue, green, and even brown (called fancy stones) and fetching a fancy price accordingly.]
1946 J.R. McCarthy Fire in Earth 210In the diamond trade they are called ‘fancies,’ the rare stones of well-marked colours. They may be red, pea green, apple green, rose, violet-blue, pale sapphire blue, absinthe green, golden brown, orange, and every colour and combination of colours extant.
1969 J.M. White Land God Made in Anger 279‘Fancies’ are coloured diamonds, produced by eccentric conditions of chemical content or of firing in the volcanic pipes...Fancies are not favoured by the public, and are therefore not greatly sought after by the trade.
1973 A. Hocking Diamonds 19Often a particular mine is noted for stones of a particular colour that it produces — and they are known in the trade as ‘fancies’.
1977 Weekend Post 18 June (Suppl.) 2Diamonds occur naturally in five different shapes and nine colours — four of white and five yellow (Cape) — as well as the fancies, like reds, greens and blues.
A diamond of gemstone quality, of a colour other than pure white or blue-white. Also attributive.
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