Diamond Color: Color chart and complete buying guide
A diamond color ranges from colorless to light yellow, from white, blue, yellow, orange, and red diamonds today come in the highly ranged color palette.
However, a perfect diamond that is of the highest quality is said to be an entirely colorless one. The color seen in diamonds is a result of chemical impurities or structural defects present in the crystal lattice of the diamond.
Hence, colored diamonds are far more valuable, in contrast with white diamonds, in which even the slightest tint of yellow is generally not preferred. This tint is capable of bringing down the price of any diamond as soon as it is spotted.
This is because colorless diamonds reflect more natural light in the eye compared to light yellow diamonds. And thus add that sparkling appeal diamond jewelry is supposed to have.
How important is the color of a diamond?
Diamond color falls under the 4C’s of selecting a diamond which is then cut, carat, color, and clarity. Cut and carat are separated from color and clarity. The former is positive traits (the traits you want at the maximum value) whereas the latter is negative traits (the traits that need you not really consider when buying a valuable diamond).
The goal is to find a diamond that looks colorless to your eye under the appropriate setting. You need to ensure that the diamond’s yellow is not low enough that you notice it.
A FEW BASIC THINGS ABOUT DIAMOND COLOUR
- The absence of color in a stone indicates a diamond is of good value.
- It is preferred if the color grade of a diamond is determined by an expert.
- The grade of diamonds ranges from colorless to colored.
- The color scale ranges from D-Z. Diamonds used in jewelry fall in the D-M range.
- The setting in which a diamond is viewed can affect the perception of the stone.
HOW IS ONE SUPPOSED TO FIND THE MOST SUITABLE COLOUR?
One can always use the Diamond color grading scale; a universal grading scale that is used by diamond merchants, retailers, and experts to determine which diamond belongs to what color.
Mainly all grading scales follow the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) color scale, according to which color ranges from D to Z.
D being colorless and Z light yellow or in layman language, it ranges from expensive to cheap.
The GIA’s diamond color scale begins at D and ends at Z because there were multiple diamond color scales in practice. These included the initial alphabets or the Arabic and Roman numerals.
Multiple A’s were used to describe the premium quality stones. This made most of the grading scales inaccurate and quite difficult to work with.
Hence, the GIA began their scale with the letter D – an alphabet that is not generally associated with high-quality diamonds. Refer to the chart down below to get an idea.
What is the diamond color grading scale of GIA?
Well to break it down to you, GIA made this scale to ensure that buyers and sellers would understand as to which diamond is actually worth spending your money on and which one is not.
THE COLOURLESS DIAMONDS (D, E, AND F):
“D” grade diamonds: This category of diamonds is colorless and appears the same to the naked eye. The D diamonds are mainly mounted on platinum or white gold. These diamonds cannot be used for rose gold or yellow gold and any other mounts as those colors would be reflected through the diamond, hence negating the colorless effect of the diamond. Therefore, if you choose to go for a diamond in this category, your band options would be limited. These diamonds are considered the rarest as they are scarcely found in nature hence these are also the most expensive, with a significant price premium compared to other grades of diamonds.
“E” grade diamonds: These are much like the D grade diamonds. The difference between the two can be made only by an expert gemologist when the diamond is viewed under bright lighting and appropriate magnification. These diamonds are also set on platinum and white gold bands to retain the bright colorless color of the diamond. These are comparatively less expensive than D-grade diamonds, yet they still come with a substantial premium.
“F” grade diamonds: These are also colorless and appear similar to the D and E grade diamonds under the view of a naked eye. They can again only be distinguished by an expert gemologist. They are moderately expensive compared to the previous two, yet their premiums are still significant.
THE NEAR COLOURLESS DIAMONDS (G, H, I, AND J):
These four-grade categories of diamonds are the most popular and sought-after category for engagement rings as the versatility of these diamonds allows them to be paired with rose and yellow golds as well. It is because these diamonds contain very trace amounts of color in them which is not visible when they are faced up and cut well. The faint tint of color can be visible only in a laboratory setting when the diamond is faced down. This range of diamonds is quite affordable while keeping up with aesthetic standards.
“G” grade diamonds: These also appear nearly colorless to the naked eye. It is the highest, best grade in this range. They are less expensive compared to the colorless grade of diamonds. These stones need to be mounted on platinum or white gold to avoid reflection of the mount color.
“H” grade diamonds: These appear colorless but they have a yellow tinge to them which can only be distinguished by a gemological expert under the appropriate light and magnification settings when being compared to diamonds of a higher grade. This is the minimum color grade that is recommended while purchasing. These can also be mounted on white gold and platinum metals and are more preferred for bigger cut diamonds such as the radiant and cushion cuts. These are less expensive than the other higher grades of diamonds. They come with a suitable premium as well and are perhaps the most affordable from the colorless and the near-colorless range.
“I” grade diamonds: I grade color stones are almost colorless and they give a good value for your money. They have a slight yellow tint which can be visible only under bright light when the diamond is being compared to other higher-grade diamonds. These diamonds are suitable for yellow and rose gold alongside white gold and platinum. These diamonds are mostly recommended for the princess cut.
“J” grade diamonds: J grade color diamonds are the most economically feasible as you get a good value for your money. The minute yellow tint can be seen only under bright lighting or other similar conditions or when the diamond is being compared to a higher-grade diamond. These are recommended for round brilliant cut diamonds or more commonly understood as the solitaire setting as larger round diamonds are great for yellow-tinted diamonds.
FAINT COLOUR DIAMONDS (K, L, and M):
These diamonds have a faint yellow hue to them that is visible to the naked eye due to which these are significantly more affordable than the previous two categories and preferred for more antique and vintage ring designs.
VERY LIGHT YELLOW (N-R):
These diamonds have a very light-yellow tinge to them that relatively increases from N to R. This category of diamonds is significantly much cheaper compared to the other diamonds.
LIGHT YELLOW (S-Z):
The S, T, and U diamonds have a yellow tinge to them that increases to a light yellow color from V-Z. These are the least expensive diamonds among all the other categories. Purchase of these diamonds is unrecommended.
Depending on the buyer’s requirement, the colorless and the near-colorless categories are suitable for engagement rings or any other jewelry of similar value. One should be very mindful of the lighting under which these diamonds are shown, as the lighting can greatly affect the perceived color of the diamonds. Daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs are most preferred to study the color of diamonds. The stone needs to be unmounted to study its color accurately.
Once you find a diamond that looks colorless to you there really is no need to purchase a diamond of a higher-grade quality. By spending more on the color grade you would have to cut down on the size, and clarity of the stone.
Important Points For Color Grade of Diamonds:
- There is barely any difference between two color-grade diamonds falling in the same category. For example, a D color will not be visibly different from an E color diamond. Yet you would be paying more for a higher colored diamond. A near colorless diamond with the right cut and carat would look just as good as a colorless one. Unless you have a mighty budget there is really no need to go for a D color diamond.
- The difference between colors can be visible when you go two to three grades above or below a particular color. For example, an ‘E color’ and an ‘M color’ diamond would be visibly different when compared to each other under bright light and appropriate magnification.
- When it comes to choosing a color you need to balance it with the other 3 factors of the 4C’s. You need to pick a color grade that would complement the diamond’s cut. The metal you choose could enhance or diminish the diamond’s characteristics.
What are ‘Fancy Diamonds’?
Colors such as blue, pink, golden, or green are rarely found in diamonds naturally. The geological conditions for procuring such diamonds are scarce. Hence diamonds with distinct shades are considered to be highly valuable. According to the GIA grading system any diamond that exhibits a color other than a yellow tinge is classified as “fancy diamonds”.
These diamonds are evaluated based on the intensity of their color. This grading system is akin to those used for other colored gems such as rubies and sapphires. The Colour here is described in terms of hue, tone, and saturation. The colored diamonds are viewed under highly controlled and regulated conditions and color comparators.
Laboratories apply a list of 27 color hues to select the hue of the diamond and the tone and saturation are described in terms such as “very light”, “fancy intense”, etc.
The grading system for fancy diamonds does not use alphabets. Instead, they range from faint to fancy deep
- Very Light
- Fancy Light
- Fancy Intense
- Fancy deep, vivid or dark
The expert first selects the hue for the diamonds and then proceeds to classify it based on its tone and saturation. For example, if the selected hue is yellow then if its tone and saturation are described as “fancy intense” or “fancy vivid” then it would have a golden color. Fancy vivid diamonds have a brighter hue compared to “fancy dark” or “fancy deep”.
Fancy vivid and fancy intense diamonds are the most preferred when purchasing colored diamonds and thus are more expensive in comparison to faint or very light diamonds.
What is the value of colored diamonds?
According to the GIA, scale diamonds are valued based on their color and clarity.
A colorless diamond would be more valuable compared to other grades such as K or I (very light yellow).
This is because high-colored diamonds have a limited supply since they are more scarcely found naturally. These diamonds are highly demanded their colorless bright white appearance. The increased demand by limited supply makes them more expensive on the market. However, even a low-colored diamond is considered valuable if it satisfies the other 4c’s of a diamond and hence can be used in diamond jewelry.
Moreover, it is economically more feasible to purchase a near colorless diamond (G, H, I, J) which is a grade lower than the colorless diamonds as it is nearly impossible to distinguish between the two by the naked eye when mounted on jewelry.
Fancy diamonds, however, have different criteria to determine their market value. They are valued based on their rarity in nature. The rare diamond is, the more valuable it becomes. Ultimately being more expensive. Fluctuating fashion trends initiated by recognized celebrities also have a deep impact on the value of fancy diamonds.
For example, pink diamonds gained a higher market value after the singer/songwriter Jennifer Lopez received a pink diamond engagement ring.
In the diamond industry “brown” is considered the most valuable hue to be found.
The terms “Champagne”, “Cognac”, and “coffee” are used to describe different hues of brown.
Which diamond color is best for you?
Although a D-grade diamond is considered the purest diamond. Purchasing it, however, limits your access to design variations of jewelry mount and it is also the most expensive diamond on the scale. You can purchase the nearly colorless grade (G, H, I, J) of diamonds which would give you a similar product at a more economic rate while accommodating your versatile taste. In the end, it depends on your personal preference and your budget.
All you must keep in mind is, whatever color you choose must be compatible with the other 4c’s to get the most out of your money. The same can be applied for fancier diamonds.
Also Read: Is Buying Diamond A Good Investment?
Color diamonds are not only pink, blue, brown, or green but are also stated concerning the yellow tint found in natural diamonds. These yellow tints are what make color diamonds in a category of colorless diamonds. Diamonds of other hues that are rare in nature are expensive and barely found to be available. Hence, choose the right color diamond for you.