Diamond Color Grading
Diamond color is the one of the “4 C’s” of how to evaluate a diamond. The diamond color scale measures a lack of color. The highest quality diamonds are ones that are “colorless” and the further down the scale you go diamonds can have tints of yellow. The diamond color grading scale goes from “D” colorless diamonds to “Z” diamonds with light color.
Diamond Color Scale
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) color grading scale is the industry standard for diamonds. Diamond color differences on the grading scale are normally so subtle the untrained eye cannot tell the difference. The GIA color scale is broken up into 5 main categories:
- D-F Color – Colorless. The highest color grade and the most expensive. D & E stones display no color. F stones can display some color when viewed by a trained gemologist.
- G-J Color – Near Colorless. Subtle hints of yellow can be visible when viewed next to diamonds of a higher grade by a trained eye. Nearly colorless diamonds are a great value for the price.
- K-M Color – Faint Yellow. Slight color is more easily detectable by the naked eye. These diamonds are an exceptional value and are a great option especially for those who do not mind color.
- N-R Color – Very Light Yellow. These diamonds appear yellow without magnification. Significantly cheaper than higher diamond grades.
- S- Z Color – Light Yellow. Yellow or brown tints are visible to the naked eye.
- Fancy – Fancy diamonds (link to fancy diamond info page) are colored diamonds outside the Z range. Fancy colored diamonds can be yellow, blue, green, red, pink, and more. The more saturated and intense the color is the higher the value of a fancy colored diamond, usually.
Diamonds get their color from traces of Nitrogen, Boron, or other changes in the diamond’s crystal structure. White diamonds (D grade) are the highest purity, rarest, and most expensive.
What to Remember When Purchasing a Diamond
When purchasing a diamond and trying to figure out what color grade is right for you it is important to consider budget, as higher color grades are significantly more expensive and the color difference difficult to distinguish to the untrained eye, especially when the stone is in a setting. Color will also have a greater impact on how your diamond looks depending on the stone’s size and cut so it is important to research these factors as well. Larger diamonds will show color impurities more readily than smaller diamonds.