Diamond Color Guide
When most industry experts discuss a diamond's color, they are typically referring to a diamond's transparancy, or lack of color. Diamonds composed of 100% pure carbon without any impurities render completely colorless diamonds. However, almost all diamonds contain some degree of color impurity caused by lingering traces of nitrogen, boron, hydrogen or other elements. Most diamonds are affected solely by nitrogen traces, which create pale yellowish or brownish tints.
When shopping for a diamond, be aware that the most valuable diamonds have the least amount of color, no diamond color. However, it is important to note that there is a class of diamonds known as fancy diamonds which are actual colored diamonds, including blue diamonds, pink diamonds and even yellow diamonds, if in fact you are looking for colored diamonds.
What Color Grade Should I Choose?
Zoara suggests that you do some window shopping for certified diamonds, take a look at diamonds of all color grades and compare and contrast. The difference in appearance between colorless diamonds and near colorless diamonds may not be detectable, but the price difference can be quite considerable. If you find that you are sensitive to low color grades, then we suggest you choose a diamond with the color grade that satisfies you. However, if you have difficulty differentiating between different color grades, then you may want to consider a nearly colorless diamond.
Assuming that you are looking for a round brilliant diamond, you have a bit more flexibility in your color grade, because the brilliance makes it more difficult to detect color. In this instance, anything over I color is usually more than adequate, and will appear completely colorless to the untrained eye unless held up against a diamond that is at least 3 color grades above it, such as an F or E colored diamond. Therefore, you may want to consider the hundreds to thousands of dollars that you can save by going lower on the color scale. For example, you can use the difference towards the carat weight and get a larger diamond, or consider a diamond with a better cut, thus providing you with a more sparkling and dazzling stone.
There are also many gemologists and diamond experts who claim that a completely colorless diamond provides light refraction that is too harsh and is unpleasant to the eye. Imagine if you are looking into a very bright spotlight- other than the glare, you can’t really see anything. However, when the light is slightly dimmed you can actually see more detail and the viewing experience is more comfortable. These experts suggest getting a diamond that has a small amount of color, which will soften the light and make it easier to view the entire spectrum of color that is given off when the diamond scintillates. If your setting is in yellow gold, you have even more flexibility in the color. Since the color of the diamond is usually only noticed when comparing it to an item that is white or colorless, if held up against a yellow gold background, there will be far less contrast, and the color will be even less noticeable. In this instance, you can even get a diamond with a J color, and it will still appear to be colorless to the untrained eye.
There are exceptions to the rule however. For example, diamonds with pointed ends, specifically marquis, radiants, trillion, pear and sometimes even princess shaped diamonds tend to focus the color on these points. In this case, it is usually best to stay with a color grade of H and higher. However, if you have a pronged setting, the prongs will usually hide this color concentration In addition, when you are perhaps looking for a loose center diamond for a 3 stone ring, it is important to make sure that the color ranges are at least within 1 grade of each other.
Color Grading: How it Works
When grading a diamond's color, the stone is examined face-down under carefully controlled light. The diamond's color is then compared to a "master stone" which has a predetermined diamond color.
The Gemological Institute of America's (GIA) color grading system is the diamond industry's standard for diamond color grading. The GIA's color grading system begins with D, being the whitest, and continues through the alphabet to Z, for stones that are yellowish or brownish. Before the GIA developed their universal diamond color grading standard several other diamond color scales were being used by the international diamond community. The GIA's intention was to completely differentiate their new system from the others. As such, they chose letters D-Z, letters that had never been used for diamond grading before.
D 100% Colorless. The highest color grade a diamond can receive. D graded diamonds are extremely rare and very highly priced.
E,F Colorless. Exceptionally transparent. Extremely difficult to detect the traces of color in an E or F graded diamond. These diamonds are rare and highly priced.
G,H Nearly Colorless. Unless these diamonds are compared next to a master stone of higher color grade, color is nearly indiscernible. When face up these diamond appear nearly colorless. These diamonds are still rare, but slightly less expensive and are considered a good value.
I,J Nearly Colorless. Color in these diamonds is slightly detectable. The slight amount of color is imperceptible by the unaided eye once the diamond has been mounted. These diamonds are of superior value, and therefore compose the majority of diamonds that are used for engagement rings, earrings and pendants.
K-M Faint Yellow. Noticeable color, although some diamonds in this range can still be fiery and beautiful.
N-Z Very Light or Light Yellow. Noticeable color. These diamonds are not fit to be sold as gemstones, unless you specifically would like to have a diamond with an amber color.
What is Fluorescense?
Many diamonds, when placed under UV light, emit a light glow in the same way that a white T-shirt does. Because there are a small amount of UV rays in regular daylight, some diamonds also exhibit fluorescence in natural light. On more recent GIA Diamond Grading Reports, the fluorescence of a diamond appears as a graded characteristic. Fluorescence can be graded as Inert, Faint, Medium, or Strong. To this day there is still no consensus among industry experts regarding the general impact of fluorescence on a diamond. This is because strong fluorescence in a diamond with a high color grade (D-H) can cause the diamond to appear milky or cloudy, while strong fluorescence in a diamond with a low color grade can make the diamond appear whiter. Most of the time, fluorescence has no impact on a diamond's appearance under regular lighting conditions.