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Diamond Color

WHAT IS DIAMOND COLOR?

This grade refers to the ‘whiteness’ of a diamond, or its lack of color.

The less color within the diamond, the more rare and valuable it is likely to be. While D to F color grades are considered Colorless, an untrained eye could not easily spot color within G to I grades. If you are concerned about visible color, consider a yellow gold setting. This metal will neutralize warmer tones. Opting for a diamond with more color could allow you to invest more in a larger carat weight or quality cut grade.

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4C's of Diamonds - Color - Graph - Table
4C’s of Diamonds – Color – Graph – Table

Diamond Color Actually Means Lack of Color

The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones stones of established color value.

GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.

4C's of Diamonds - Color - Graph - Table
4C’s of Diamonds – Color – Graph – Table

Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

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Why does the GIA color grading system start at D?
Before GIA universalized the D-to-Z Color Grading Scale, a variety of other systems were used loosely, from A, B, and C (used without clear definition), to Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numbers, to descriptive terms like “gem blue” or “blue white,” which are notorious for misinterpretation. So the creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts at the letter D. Very few people still cling to other grading systems, and no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

4C's of Diamonds - Color - Graph - Table
4C’s of Diamonds – Color – Graph – Table

Are Zs considered fancy-color?
No. Naturally colored diamonds outside the normal color range are called fancy-color diamonds. The FTC provides no guidelines for the use of the term “fancy-color” in the US, but there is general agreement in the international trade that fancy-color diamonds are either yellow or brown diamonds that have more color than a Z masterstone or they exhibit a color other than yellow or brown.

4C's of Diamonds - Color - Graph - Table
4C’s of Diamonds – Color – Graph – Table

COLORLESS D
No color. Appears completely clear under 10x magnification. Recommended paired with platinum, white gold or palladium. These metals emphasize the lack of color.

COLORLESS E
No visible color. Can only be discerned from a D graded diamond by a gemologist in side-by-side comparison. Set in platinum, white gold or palladium to emphasize the lack of color.

COLORLESS F
No visible color. Can only be discerned from D and E graded diamonds by a gemologist in side-by-side comparison. Set in platinum, white gold or palladium to emphasize the lack of color.

NEAR COLORLESS G
Very subtle traces of color, typically visible only in side-by-side comparison. Will look stunning in a variety of metals, although yellow gold will neutralize any color in the diamond.

NEAR COLORLESS H
Subtle traces of color, typically visible only in side-by-side comparison. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.

NEAR COLORLESS I
Subtle traces of color, sometimes detected by the unaided eye. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.

NEAR COLORLESS J
Subtle traces of color, sometimes detected by the unaided eye. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.

FAINT YELLOW K
A yellow tint may be detectable without magnification. A warmer colored diamond may appeal, so be sure to consider your personal taste. A yellow gold setting may help to neutralize the hue.

FAINT YELLOW L
A yellow tint may be detectable without magnification. These slightly colored diamonds may appeal, so be sure to consider your personal taste. A yellow gold setting may help to neutralize the hue.

NOTICEABLE COLOR M – R
A yellow or brown tint is clear to the unaided eye. Their visible color makes these diamonds much more affordable. Set them in yellow gold for a warm, colorful look.

VERY NOTICEABLE COLOR S – Z
While still considered a ‘white’ diamond, an S-Z graded diamond has visibly yellow or brown tones. You may find that the color in these diamonds is too much for your taste.

4C's of Diamonds - Color - Graph - Table
4C’s of Diamonds – Color – Graph – Table

Choosing the right color for your diamond is based on personal preference. It’s important to remember that you are generally searching for a stone with little to no color.

Diamonds are colored when the crystals grow inside the earth. Tiny traces of some elements like nitrogen can color the crystals. In addition, the pressure involved in the diamond formation creates distortion in the crystal structure which is believed to also contribute to its color.

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The color evaluation on gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses a 12-letter alphabetical scale of D to Z. Using this scale, the diamond on the lower end of the scale (D) will have the least amount of color – it is considered a colorless stone. The diamond at the higher end of the scale (Z) has deeper tones. However, when a diamond’s color is more intense than the “Z” grading, it enters the realm of a “Fancy Color” diamond. In this case, the intensity of the color in the diamond can play a significant role in its value. The value of a Fancy Colored Diamond can surpass that of colorless diamonds if the intensity of the color is high and the color is rare.
D grade is absolutely colorless
E and F are essentially colorless. The difference between D, E, and F is so slight that only experts can see it when the diamonds are unmounted.
K, L, and M are faintly tinted. Diamonds under 1/2 carat appear colorless when mounted. Diamonds over 1/2 carat may show a tint of color.
Grades N through Z have a light tint, and it is visible.
Diamonds with less color are more rare and valuable. Only about 5,000 of the polished diamonds produced each year weighing 1/2 carat or more are colorless. Most of the diamonds sold are grades G to L. For fancy diamonds, the value goes up with the intensity of the color. Fancy colors include bright yellow, pink, champagne, blue and green. Red, purple and orange diamonds, though found in nature, are extremely rare.

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