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Diamond Color





















Diamond Color Basics
After carat weight, diamond color is the next most important barometer for determining the value of a diamond. A diamond can run the color spectrum from perfectly colorless all the way to light yellow. Understanding diamond colors is a must if you plan on being a savvy buyer.

What Exactly is Diamond Color?
While most people think of the classic, transparent diamond, which happens to be the most rare and valuable, the colors of diamonds actually range from transparent all the way to a brownish color. In addition, there are different saturations of diamond color, and tones.


The Gemological Institute of America, known as the GIA for short, is the most commonly used system for evaluating diamond color. They've created something known as the “GIA Color Grade Scale”, and it has placed a grading system on the many different colors and shades of diamonds, classifying diamonds into 22 letter grades.


Before we show you the diamond color grading scale from the GIA, let’s examine the Diamond Color Grading Procedure. And by the way, for those of you who don’t know, GIA is recognized as the world's foremost authority in gemology.


Diamond Color Grading Procedure

  • To be graded, diamonds must be loose stones; because once a diamond is set into metal the metal can affect its color.
  • Diamonds are placed table-down, pavilion-up and viewed with a 10X loupe.
  • A lettering system from D to Z is used to identify the amount of color present in each diamond, with D awarded only to rare, totally colorless diamonds.


Diamond Color Grades

Colorless diamonds and diamonds that are yellow or yellowish brown are grouped into the categories shown below. These grades do not apply to fancy colored diamonds--they have their own color grading standards.






Nearly colorless.



Faintly tinted, usually yellow.



Lightly tinted, usually yellow. Tint can be seen with the naked eye.



Tinted, usually yellow, may progress to brownish. Tint visible to the naked eye, even when mounted.


Diamond Color Grading Scale


How Diamonds are Graded

The Gemological Institute of America has certified diamond color grades as “master color comparison” diamonds. When a diamond is being graded, it is compared against these master color comparison grades, to find the shades that match it most closely.


The diamond that is being graded must be thoroughly cleaned and all oil must be removed from the surface before being examined, since even small amounts of dirt or oils on the surface of the diamond can alter the color.



A line of master color comparison diamonds or shade chart is set up, with each grade placed about one inch apart, ranging from the lightest and highest graded D shade, to the darkest, graded Z diamonds. The diamond color that is being graded is moved from the left side of the comparison units to the right, until it matches one of the shades.



Diamond grading should take place in a colorless environment, using a balanced fluorescent light source that has a filtered, cool white sun like ray. The room where the grading takes place is dark, all except for the special grading light, in order to obtain the most accurate grading of the diamond color.



Fluorescence of Diamonds

Yet another consideration when considering the diamond color is diamond fluorescence, and how it will affect the actual appearance in the diamond color. Fluorescence causes some diamonds to change color when viewed in our everyday, ultraviolet lighting, as well as under fluorescent light bulbs.



When diamond color is graded, the strength of the fluorescence of that diamond must also be indicated. It may be considered to be strong, moderate, or weak fluorescence, and the reports must also indicate what color the diamond will change to due to the fluorescence.


The reason for this is when people are in the jewelry store, looking at diamonds in the special lighting of the store, they may all appear to be the colorless, transparent diamonds. After buying a diamond and getting it home under normal lighting conditions, you could find your diamond is yellowish in color.



You can ask your jeweler to provide grading documentation and information about the fluorescent value of a particular diamond before purchasing, to make sure that you will be happy with the diamond you buy. Many jewelers also can show you the diamond under different lighting conditions, which will enable you to fully appreciate the beauty of the diamond before you buy it.


Some individuals like a diamond color with a darker shade, while others are insistent on the transparent diamond color. The diamond color is one of personal preference, so be sure to perform your due diligence research before making your final selection.


How Does Diamond Color Affect Cost?

Let’s start with a 1 ct. diamond with VS1 clarity and K color. Using the GIA color grading scale, your color rating will be in the top graph.

If you upgrade to an H color, your diamond will increase in value an extra $900 per carat.


Upgrade to an F color and you will see an increase of approximately $1,100 per carat.


Improve the color to D and the increase will be approximately $1,700 per carat.

Diamonds are grouped into two color categories:

1. Colorless or White Diamonds fall within GIA's D to Z color grading scale. When you think of a colorless stone, just think of crystal clear pure water. These diamonds are traditionally used for engagement rings and other fine jewelry.

2. Natural Fancy Diamonds can range in colors from brilliant blue as in the world renowned Hope Diamond to delicately hues such as canary yellow and faint brown.

Diamond Color Facts:


  • The whiter or more colorless the stone, the greater the value of the diamond
  • When the slightest of color is detected, the diamond’s value is depreciated
  • The prism effect is what creates the brilliance and fire in diamonds.
  • The best way to see the true color (or lack of color) of a diamond is by looking at it against a white surface.

Go back to: The Buying Diamonds Guide.

Go back to: The 4 C's of Diamonds

Source: Vicente Ross,




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