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What is Diamond Color?

~ Color Grade Explained ~

One of the characteristics of diamonds that you will need to learn about is the “color grade”. One of the 4 C’s which also include carat weight, cut grade, as well as clarity grade.
Diamond Color Grading

Diamond Color Grading – Master Color Gems

What does Diamond Color mean?

Diamond color is all about the invisible, or the absence of color in general. The GIA grading scale starts at D and goes up to Z. With the exception of fancy colored diamonds, which are not graded using the D to Z scale. D color means absolutely colorless, and as you work your way up the scale, each letter will show various amounts of yellow tint eventually turning more brown than yellow at the letter Z.

BBR 434-En Set

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Flower Ring.

Original BBR 434 Hand Engraved

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Flower Ring.

Can I actually see the color?

Some people will look at a G colored diamond graded by GIA, and say they can’t understand why this diamond isn’t a D. Because they can’t see the color. This is because diamonds are not color graded from the top down, but rather bottom up. When you turn a diamond upside down it’s then that you can start to see the color the diamond may or may not have. This is skill that takes a long time to perfect.

However if you truly want to compare, try putting that G colored diamond you think is a D color up to a diamond that is actually graded D by GIA. You will immediately see the color difference. This is actually a great way for people to see the color. Compare, compare, compare.

But you just said diamond color grade from the bottom up, and takes precise skills to see, so how can we actually compare?

The yellow or brown tint in a diamond is much easier to see from the bottom and that’s why they do it this way. You get a precise measurement. However the traces of color are, in fact, throughout the diamond and when light reflects off or through the diamond the trace of color will be evident in the sparkle, and beauty.

It’s not much different then putting a flashlight up to a colored piece of paper. The colorless light from the flashlight will enhance the piece of paper showing you the tint of the paper rather than the color-less “color” of the actual light. Only in diamonds the color is MUCH more subtle making it very hard to even see the tint without actually comparing it to another diamond of better or worse color. When comparing two diamonds side by side you’ll see the color difference between the two once light reflects off of it, and in some cases rather easily.

GIA Diamond Color Scale

GIA Diamond Color Scale

Diamond Color Grading Myth

Diamond color is an interesting topic. Many say the color of a stone will depend upon the person viewing it. This may be true to people who have a hard time seeing yellows or browns, but if color grading truly depended solely on personal bias then it would be very difficult to put a price on it. In other words, diamond color grading is NOT subjective in any way. They are graded face down, comparing them to other master stones in precise viewing conditions under controlled lighting. GIA has perfected this type of grading and has it down to a science allowing your diamond to be assigned an actual “worth (rarity) and value (price)”.

What do you mean by Worth and Value?

No matter what you’re talking about, there’s a limit to how much of it is actually available in the world, and of that limit there’s different levels of quality of the supply. The same holds true for diamonds. There are a lot of diamonds out there, but each one is different in terms of quality / rarity. That’s why they needed a diamond grading system. Using this system they are able to see what type of diamond is more rare. Each grading factor such as cut, color, size, and clarity are used for just this purpose. The end result is: More Rare = Higher Worth = Higher Price simply because there are less of them in the world.

What Diamond Color is the best for my money?

The old saying is true; Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you like is extremely subjective and very personal to you. However if what you’re looking for is the best bang for your buck, and you desire your diamond to be as colorless as possible, <span class=”highlight”>we would suggest staying in the F-H color range</span>. Although not completely colorless, it’s extremely hard to tell the difference.

The trace amounts of yellow tint in the diamond are practically invisible. Even when you twist and turn your hand and your diamond really starts to sparkle, it will still reflect a white sparkle. <span class=”highlight”>When you start dealing with the “I color class” you’ll start to be able to see the yellow tint. When you go above the F color grade you’re really just paying extra for the rarity of the diamond. Not many people, at all, will be able to see color in the F – H color grade</span>.

Does it matter who grades the color of my diamond?

YES! If I had a megaphone and you could hear me speak, I would shout as loud as I could just to get this message across. Who grades your diamond makes all the difference on what it will actually look like. I go over this in our other pages dealing with the 4Cs, but it bears repeating.

GIA invented the diamond grading scale. They are the ones who spent countless millions in technology and training to perfect, and make the diamond grading system a precision science. They do not bend the rules for anyone, and because of this GIA is the foremost authority on diamond and gemstone grading. If you brought a diamond certification from GIA to your insurance company they would not refute it, and it would be taken as face value … period! A certification from GIA will never be argued against. With that being said, whatever GIA says your diamond is, it is. This is why GIA certified diamonds are worth more. A diamond grading company called AGS is second only to GIA. EGL-USA a close third.

How can there be a second or third best diamond grading lab? Isn't a diamond one color and that's it? Why the difference in opinion?

Diamond Wholesalers are in the business of making money, and when they send a diamond in to be graded that they feel is spectacular, and the results come back less favorable than they believe it should be, not only does it make them angry, it can cost them money.

Like I said above, the more rare a diamond is the more expensive it is, the more sought after it is. Simply put, many wholesalers around the world felt GIA’s grading standards were too strict and unfair. Smart business people in the diamond industry read the signs, and saw the demand a few years later new grading labs were created. These grading labs are less strict in their grading, more forgiving, more for the diamond wholesaler, and as a result their grading is all over the place, and hardly trustworthy. Every diamond dealer, wholesaler, jeweler, manufacturer, designer knows that these other grading labs are less strict, they know their grading is off, sometimes by 2 to 3 grades, and this is the reason a diamond graded by any other lab outside of GIA, AGS, or EGL-USA will be priced less.

This effects the customer, because if you bought a diamond based on the certification from a lab like EGL-International the diamond will not be what you expected it to be. You wanted an H colored diamond but you ended up getting a K colored diamond (based on what GIA would grade it). You may be asking yourself if a diamond graded by any other lab other than GIA, AGS, or EGL-USA is worth less, then why have them grade it? Because in the GIA color scale, which almost every lab uses, H is considered a real nice “near colorless” diamond, and it is. H is nice when it’s a REAL H. If it’s an H graded by GIA. But if it’s another lab (most foreign labs outside the U.S.) that graded that diamond an H you can be sure it’s really a J, K, or L, and most people are not looking for a J, K, or L colored diamond, they are looking for D through I color, for the most part. So if the certificate says H, they’ll be able to sell it much easier even though they won’t make as much for it. This is the hard truth of diamond grading. That’s why we only recommend diamonds graded by either GIA or AGS. This way we know the diamond is exactly what it says on the certification. We’ll also recommend EGL-USA. At least we know the diamond is extremely close.

Hints to make your diamond seem less yellow in color.

  • Don’t Set Your Diamond in Yellow Gold. If your diamond has a noticeable yellow tint to it, try setting your diamond in a white gold, palladium, or platinum engagement ring setting. Preferably palladium or platinum. There is no such thing as pure white gold. Only pure yellow gold. In order to make gold white you have to rhodium plate the yellow gold. Over time rhodium plating will start to wear due to the sweat on your hands and other chemicals it may come in contact with. When this happens your white gold will start turning back to it’s original color of yellow gold, and diamonds will reflect color close to it. If you eliminate any yellow next to the diamond and stay with the white / silver colored setting you’ll give the illusion that your diamond is more color-less than it actually is.
  • Fluorescence is your Friend. Read more about What is Diamond Fluorescence? Every color has it’s opposite, and when you mix these two colors of course different things will happen; Mix red and yellow you get orange, mix blue and yellow and you get green. This is common knowledge. However what’s not common knowledge is when you mix opposite colors in a diamond (something with huge refractive properties) the colors don’t actually mix to make a new color, instead they’ll cancel each other out. The most common color of fluorescence is blue which happens to be the opposite of yellow. If you have enough blue fluorescence it will literally cancel out the yellow tint in your diamond making it appear colorless. Even better is diamonds with fluorescence cost less, and diamonds with lower color gradings cost less. So if you can mix the two just right, you could save yourself a lot of money. Example. “I” colored diamond with a slight blue fluorescence should do the trick.