DIAMOND COLOR CHART AND
Understanding the GIA’s Diamond Color Scale
While fancy-colored diamonds are valued for their color intensity, white diamonds are valued for their lack of color. Thus, lower-grade white diamonds usually have a yellow tint, ranging from light yellow to rich yellow gold.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a diamond color grading scale (known as the GIA Color Scale) which is widely used in the diamond industry to grade a diamond’s color on a scale from D to Z. Most retailers do not carry diamonds below L grade, since these stones begin to show signs of faint color in the form of a light yellow or brown tinge. The GIA’s diamond color grade scale can be simplified into a diamond color chart like the one below for non-professional gemologists and regular people to use as a guide for choosing diamonds.
Note that the differences between diamond color grades are often very subtle and cannot be detected by the naked eye. For example, a J color diamond will appear “colorless”, but a closer inspection usually reveals a slight yellow tint. However, the color of a diamond becomes easier to detect as the size of the stone increases. Thus, the larger the stone, the more important the diamond’s color grade becomes.
Another factor that makes it hard to distinguish between the various color grades is the cut of the diamond. For example, brilliant cuts make a diamond’s color less noticeable due to their many facets. Step cuts, on the other hand, tend to be more revealing of a diamond’s natural color.
The GIA’s Diamond Color Scale
Color vs White Diamonds
The diamond color tends to be less noticeable in brilliant cuts, due to the high number of facets. Step cuts, such as emerald, radiant, and asscher, are also more revealing of natural color.
The most valuable of all color grades, the difference between D, E, and F color diamonds can only be distinguished by experts.
D color diamonds to F color diamonds should be set in white metals such as platinum or white gold since a warm or dark metal setting can affect the perceived color of these diamonds, undermining their value.
Near colorless diamonds have a very slight trace of color but are still suitable for white gold settings.
I and J color diamonds are excellent choices for diamonds under one carat, while G color diamonds and H color diamonds are recommended for stones that are over one carat.
Faint color becomes more visible to the naked eye from the K color grade down. K to M color diamonds offer unbeatable value to those who don’t mind their faint yellow hue.
Warm metals work best with diamonds in this grade since they can help hide the yellow or brown tinge that these diamonds tend to have.
Very Light Color
Jewelers rarely use N to R color diamonds due to their noticeable color.
Sometimes mistaken for fancy-colored diamonds, S to Z color diamonds have clearly visible color.
Yellow diamonds, which do not fall within the normal color range for whiteness, are known as fancy-color diamonds. These stones cannot be mistaken for white diamonds since they display a distinctive yellow hue. They also come in a variety of other colors, from fancy dark to fancy light.
Once a diamond is set in jewelry, it becomes more difficult to see its actual color. For lower color grade diamonds, yellow and rose gold can help make the traces of color less apparent. White metals, on the other hand, make hints of color more visible and are therefore perfect for showcasing colorless diamonds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Note that the GIA color scale is not used to evaluate colored diamonds (also known as fancy color diamonds). Instead, fancy color diamonds are rated on a separate color scale. These include fancy yellow diamonds, pink-colored diamonds, blue-colored diamonds, and many others.
D, E, F: Colorless
G, H: Near-colorless
I, J: Near-colorless, slightly tinted
K-M: Faint color
N-R: Very light color
S-Z: Light color
D-F color diamonds are the rarest and highest quality diamonds money can buy. These diamonds should be set in platinum or white gold to accentuate their brilliance.
G-H and I-J color diamonds have no discernible color to the naked eye and are graded near-colorless, therefore offering great value for money.
K color diamond grades display faint color and are the budget-friendly option. These color diamonds look stunning in yellow or rose gold settings, which can help to reduce their yellowish appearance.
L-Z color diamonds have a noticeable yellow tint and therefore do not meet the quality standards of high-end diamond dealers.