Diamonds captivate us with their sparkling beauty, and for most, color is likely the most familiar of the four Cs of gem grading. But, diamond color grading is a bit more complex than you might think. You might be wondering: What colors do real diamonds shine?
Diamonds come in many colors and intensities of those colors, which are graded on a unique scale. But what does that scale look like, and what can impact diamond color?
Answers to these – and many more – questions are covered in this article. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Diamond Color & Grading
Mined diamonds, as well as lab-grown diamonds, come in many colors and tints. The traditional clear, colorless gemstones, commonly found in most engagement rings, are known as white diamonds.
In contrast, fancy colored diamonds are vivid shades like yellow, green, and pink.
The Gemological Institute of America has standardized grading of diamond’s colors on a D to Z scale. The Institute also uses the mentioned scale but for lab-grown diamonds. All diamonds on this scale are considered white, even though they may have a tinge of yellow on the lower end.
Ironically enough, in terms of grading, diamond color is determined by the lack of color.
Diamonds will get a higher grade if they have less color. Diamond color distracts the eye from seeing the sparkle. So, the yellowish or brownish tinted diamond will appear to sparkle less than colorless diamonds.
Let’s take a look at the color grading chart.
|Diamonds Color Grades||Color Visibility|
Keep in mind that color is a natural element in diamonds. They’re made from carbon deposits. And as gems grew under the Earth’s crust for millions of years, traces of elements caused the brownish or yellowish tint.
It’s typical for diamonds to have some tinting – which varies in tone, saturation, and hue – rather than be completely colorless.
The diamond’s color is graded by looking at the body color of the diamond against a white background, face down. Gemologists compare the diamond to other stones with grade color shading. They can even use a GIA-verified set of cubic zirconia.
Related Read: What Diamond Color Is The Best Value?
Basics Of The Diamond Color Scale
In our letter-grade diamond color scale, D is the highest grade, and Z is the lowest. Diamonds were previously graded like gemstones on a range that included AAA, AA, A, and B. However, to avoid confusion, the new scale was introduced.
Diamond Color D-F
- Diamonds in this range are colorless or have minuscule traces of color, which a trained gemologist can detect. These diamonds need to be compared to lower or higher graded diamonds to identify the color accurately. Less than 1% of all gem-quality diamonds fall into this category.
Diamond Color G-J
- Diamonds that fall into this range have minor traces of color, which can generally be identified by trained gemologists. The G and H color diamonds are most popular because they balance the lack of color and value. Minor sparkle obstructions can be noticed in I/J colors. However, these diamonds still sparkle beautifully and have great value. The top 15% of all gem-quality diamonds are represented in this color range.
Diamond Color K-M
- Diamonds with K, L, and M usually have a faint brown or yellow tinge. And yes, the color affects the diamond’s sparkle; they appear slightly dull. Diamonds in this range represent the top 40% of all gem-quality diamonds.
Understanding Each Diamond Color Grade
If you aren’t sure which diamond you want to go with or how to get the color and shine for your budget, we’ve covered everything about each specific diamond color down below.
Diamond Color D
Diamonds with color D are a symbol of perfection; they possess the highest color purity. These diamonds are considered extremely rare, and they have no recognizable shades of color.
When you compare a D with E and F colors, they look similar if you look with the naked eye.
A D color diamond looks the best when set in platinum and gold, as the white color of the metal highlights the colorless quality. Moreover, these diamonds can also look gorgeous in rose and yellow gold.
However, some color from the setting will come through the gemstone.
Diamond Color E
An E color diamond is visually as beautiful as the previous color and has pretty high color purity. These are also very rare and have almost unrecognizable color shading.
To the naked eye – and even under ten times magnification – an E color diamond won’t show any tinges of yellow.
Diamond Color F
An F-color diamond has excellent beauty and contains some shade of color that is undetectable by untrained individuals. They’re also very rare and are generally considered to have high color purity.
If you’re looking for a diamond that won’t exhibit shades of yellow to the naked eye, an F color diamond can most certainly fit the bill. They’re more affordable than a D or E color diamond, too.
Diamond Color G
Diamonds with score G are exquisite and have minor traces of color that can only be identified by a professional. G color diamonds are the most popular as they provide a great blend of value and beauty.
White gold or platinum setting can be paired with these diamonds to hide traces of yellow color in the ring. Moreover, G color diamonds are versatile and can look astounding with yellow and rose gold.
Diamond Color H
H color diamonds have beautiful appeal as their slightly identifiable shade of color doesn’t affect their brilliance. It’s also one of the more popular colors due to its value and visual attractiveness.
H color diamonds are a great choice if you’re trying to maximize other characteristics like clarity and carat.
Diamond Color I
Even though some shading of color can be identified by a trained eye, the I color diamonds deliver excellent brilliance. Since the hue is still not recognizable to an untrained eye, these diamonds provide excellent value.
Diamonds with I color can be a good choice as the yellow color isn’t too noticeable. However, we recommend you ask a gemologist to help you find a stone that faces up white.
Diamond Color J
Diamonds with color J have elegant sparkle and value – as long as they’re cut well, that is. They have a shade of color that is only detectible by a professional.
Like before, you should talk to a gemologist to help you find a suitable precious stone that faces up white. Also, discuss the diamond’s shape; some cuts can amplify the color of your diamond.
Diamond Color K
Diamonds that don’t compromise the stone’s sparkle are considered to be K-color diamonds. Some shading may reflect the light, but it’s still quite hard for the untrained individual to detect the color grade.
Keep in mind that these diamonds can look yellow to the naked eye. That is especially true for diamonds that are larger than 1.50 carats.
Diamond Color L
L color diamonds are lovely and are considered white diamonds; the color doesn’t distract from the diamond’s sparkle. Some hues might be detectable to the untrained eye, though – especially if you’re looking at it from the side.
It looks perfect in yellow gold settings, as they minimize the contrast between the diamond and the background.
That said, be sure to check with the professional before purchasing an L-color diamond. They can generally help you decide what’s the correct color for you.
Diamond Color & Prices
Even though changes in diamond color are subtle, the changes in prices are anything but: The price difference between each color grade ranges from 8% to 25% – or even more.
For someone who is a perfectionist, D through F color diamonds are an excellent choice. For a more value-driven decision, people consider I through K colors. Keep in mind that diamonds of all colors show brilliance and fire.
If you decide to purchase a lower color diamond, you’ll have to accept minor visible differences, but you will save a noticeable amount of money. The most distinguishable cost difference is usually from G to F color grades. For this reason, the most popular color is a G.
How Does Metal Impact The Color?
Metal can play a role in which diamond color you ought to select. Lower-color diamonds usually look gorgeous in a yellow gold setting. That is because the color of the “environment” decreases the contrast between the diamond and the background.
Even more so, the type of setting and the amount of metal used can exhibit more or less of the diamond’s color and shine. Depending on this, you may want to choose a higher or lower color on the scale.
The Shape And Size Matter, Too
The shape is a critical element when determining how much color is shown.
Diamonds that are cut in fancy ways tend to show more color. For example, oval, marquise, and pear cuts exhibit more color near their edges and points, while the emerald, princess, Asscher, and radiant cuts reflect more color in the body.
With diamonds of any shape, color can be more evident as the carat weight increases. So, with larger sizes, it’s crucial to choose colors of higher grades.
Does Fluorescence Impact The Color?
A factor that can also affect a diamond’s color is fluorescence, which is, contrary to some myths, actually your friend: Fluorescence is a diamond’s reaction to black light, more commonly known as UV light.
It is caused by naturally occurring elements, known as inclusions, that become part of diamonds as they grow. Very rarely, though, fluorescence can affect the visual properties of a diamond.
Fluorescence should be “None” or “Faint” in higher colors, D through G. it can whiten a diamond for those on the lower end of the color scale. Sometimes, when a diamond is colorless, it could give it a grayish tint, but this is very unlikely.
In colors I through L, we recommend medium or strong fluorescence. That could visually make the color appear a shade whiter by improving the visibility of yellowish tint.
A diamond with fluorescence is generally more attractive than the one without it.
Read Also: Can Ultraviolet (UV) Light Destroy A Diamond?
Diamond Color Purchasing Tips
For the best balance of look and value, we recommend diamonds with color grade G through J. That applies to most carat weights. But if you want a diamond above 1 carat, you should stay with G or H.
If you want a larger diamond, you shouldn’t compromise on the color. Aside from the actual cut, color is the single most crucial factor when selecting a diamond.
Once the stone is set in a piece of jewelry, its color becomes much harder to detect. An H color can look as colorless as a D when placed in a piece of jewelry.
The color of the mounting affects the diamond’s color, though.
Yellow gold makes small amounts of yellow in a diamond less pronounced, whereas white metal mountings make the color more apparent. Rose gold can have a similar effect, albeit to a lesser extent. White gold and platinum make yellow tints most evident.
So, to answer the question “What do real diamonds shine?” once and for all:
Natural diamonds come in all colors and qualities. Some diamonds are considered white, pure, and transparent, and others are tinged with yellow or brown. Diamonds are usually graded on a GIA standardized scale with letters D through Z.
Usually, diamonds that have these tinges are less valuable. On the other hand, diamonds with no color are generally the most expensive and best choice for engagement rings. With that said, fancy colored diamonds are rare and have vivid blue, yellow, pink, and even red colors.
The shape, size, and choice of precious metal for the setting can impact the diamond’s color as well as its fluorescence.
Be sure to ask a professional gemologist for advice or any concern you might have regarding your diamond choice.
See Also: Do Real Diamonds Shine In The Dark?