For most diamonds, color is described in terms of “whiteness”. Unlike fancy-colored diamonds, which are valued for their color intensity, white diamonds are valued for their lack of color.
The diamond color scale used by the diamond industry was developed by the GIA and places diamonds on a scale ranging from D to Z. Most retailers do not carry diamonds below L grade, which begin to show faint color.
Differences between diamond color grades can be very subtle. Diamonds that are J grade and above generally appear “colorless” to the untrained eye. However, color becomes easier to detect as diamond size increases. The larger the diamond, the more important color grades become.
Diamond shape and setting metal should also be taken into consideration, as they can affect perceived color.
Once a diamond is set in jewelry, it becomes more difficult to see its true color. For lower color grade diamonds, yellow and rose gold can help make traces of color less apparent. White metals on the other hand, make hints of color more visible, and are therefore perfect for showcasing a colorless 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 more revealing of color.
The most valuable of all color grades, the difference between D, E, and F diamonds can only be distinguished by experts.
D to F diamonds should be set in white metals. A warm or dark metal setting would affect the diamond’s perceived color, undermining its value.
Near colorless diamonds have a very slight trace of color, but are still suitable for white gold settings.
I and J colors are excellent value choices for diamonds under one carat, while G and H color is recommended for diamonds over one carat.
Faint color becomes visible to the naked eye from K grade down. For those who don’t mind the hue, K to M color diamonds offers unbeatable value.
Warm metals work best with diamonds of this grade, which tend to have a yellow or brown tinge.
Very Light Color
N to R grade diamonds are rarely used by jewelers due to their noticeable color.
Sometimes mistaken for fancy-colored diamonds, N to R grade diamonds have clearly visible color.