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.

Setting Metal

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.

Diamond Shape

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.

Colorless 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 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 are recommended for diamonds over one carat.

Faint Color 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 offer 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.

Light Color Sometimes mistaken for fancy-colored diamonds, N to R grade

diamonds have clearly visible color.