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Diamond Color

Diamonds are found in nature in a wide range of colors, from completely colorless (the most desirable trait) to slightly yellow, to brown. So-called 'fancy color diamonds' come in more intense colors, like yellow and blue, but these are not graded on the same scale. The diamond color grading system uses the letters of the alphabet from D through Z, with 'D' being the most colorless and therefore the rarest and most valuable, and 'Z' having the most color within the normal range, and being the least valuable, all other factors being equal. A diamond's color is determined by looking at it under controlled lighting and comparing them to the Gemological Institute of America's color scale, which is based on a set of diamonds of known color. Here is a diagram showing how a diamond's color is graded.

Diamonds found in nature come in colors ranging from colorless to slightly yellow or brown, to more rare and costly pink, green or blue stones (commonly referred to as 'fancy' diamonds). Excluding 'fancy' diamonds, the ideal color for a diamond is colorless, although this is extremely rare.

A diamond's color is most accurately determined when it is not mounted in a setting, since settings can introduce tints of their own color into the diamond. This is more evident in yellow gold settings, and less so in white gold and platinum settings. Even a trained professional can't always tell the difference between close grades of color in a diamond if it is still mounted in a setting. For this reason, gemological laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gemological Society (AGS) will only grade diamonds that are unmounted.

Diamonds with a color grade of D, E or F are considered colorless; G, H, I and J are near colorless; K, L and M have a faint yellow tint; N, O, P, Q and R have a very light yellow tint and S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z are light yellow. A diamond that is a D color is absolutely colorless, and is therefore the most valuable. However, it's important to understand that color alone does not determine the value of a diamond. All '4Cs' must be taken into account. A diamond of D color that has imperfections or is poorly cut is not as valuable as a stone of a lower color grade that has a superior cut and clarity.

Education On Diamond Color

D - Colorless

Absolutely colorless. This is the highest color grade and these diamonds are extremely rare.
E - Colorless

Colorless. These are rare diamonds that contain only minute traces of color as detected by a gemologist.
F - Colorless

Colorless. Still considered colorless grade, these high-quality diamonds have only a slight color as detected by a gemologist.
G - Near Colorless

Near colorless. These diamonds offer an excellent value and their color is mostly noticeable when compared to diamonds with better grades.
H - Near Colorless

Near colorless. These diamonds offer an excellent value and their color is noticeable when compared to diamonds with better grades.
I - Near Colorless

Near colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.
J - Near Colorless

Near colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.
K-M - Noticeable Color

Yellowish tint. This color does not show with smaller diamonds when they are mounted, but diamonds of half carat or more will show noticeable color to the untrained eye.
N-R - Noticeable Color

These diamonds show noticeable yellowish tints to the untrained eye.
S-Z - Noticeable Color

Yellow. These diamonds show increasing yellow or brownish tints and they are very off-white in color.

Selecting A Diamond

When it comes to diamonds, most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. Despite this, color has a significant impact on the price of diamonds. Though purists prefer diamonds in the D to F range, you can find tremendous value and a colorless look by selecting diamonds in the G to I range.

If you are shopping on a budget or trying to maximize the size of your stone, consider J diamonds that combine affordability with near colorlessness.

Medium or strong fluorescence actually counteracts the slight yellow body color of diamonds that are rated I color or lower. As a result, these diamonds appear to be more white or colorless than they actually are. This gives the budget-conscious buyer the opportunity to purchase a lower-color but whiter-looking diamond that offers an appearance that is comparable to a more expensive, higher color diamond.


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