4Cs of Diamond Quality - Diamond Color Grading

Guide to Diamond Color

Guide to Diamond Color

Diamonds come in every color of the spectrum, but the most popular are colorless. Truly colorless, pure white diamonds are extremely rare and, therefore, the most costly. Laboratories, like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), grade stones according to how far they deviate from the purest white as one of the diamond 4Cs.

The best way to see the true color of a diamond is by looking at it against a white surface. Colorless stones are graded D, E or F. All three grades are considered colorless but with slightly decreasing transparency. Color grading continues down through the alphabet, with each letter designating a slight darker or warmer tint.

Colored Diamonds

Diamonds also come in a spectrum of majestic colors, from red and canary yellow to blue, green and purple. These colorful diamonds, known as fancies, are valued for their depth of color, just as white diamonds are valued for their lack of color. Therefore, fancy color diamonds are graded in order of increasing intensity from Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Dark and Fancy Deep.

Diamond color grades are determined by professionals under ideal circumstances, a situation seldom duplicated outside of a laboratory. Choose a diamond based on its appeal to you, rather than on a technical color scale.

4Cs of Diamond Quality: Diamond Color Grading by GIA

A Note on Color Grading

It is important to remember that color is a range. Think of a diamond color grade as your age. If you’re 34 years old, your 34th birthday may have been yesterday, or your 35th birthday may be next month. But when someone asks your age, you simply tell them you’re 34. It works the same way with color grading. For example, a diamond with a G color grade could, in fact, be very close to an F or to an H.

Why does the GIA color grading system start at D?

Before GIA universalized the D-to-Z Color Grading Scale, there was no clear standard to define what diamond color is. A variety of other systems were used loosely, from A, B, and C (used without clear definition), to Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numbers, to descriptive terms like “gem blue” or “blue white,” which are notorious for misinterpretation. So, the creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts at the letter D. Very few people still cling to other grading systems, and no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

Are diamonds graded as Zs considered fancy-color?

No. Naturally colored diamonds outside the normal color range are called fancy-color diamonds. The FTC provides no guidelines for the use of the term “fancy-color” in the US, but there is general agreement in the international trade about what diamond color range is customary for fancy-color diamonds. These are either yellow or brown diamonds that have more color than a Z master stone or they exhibit a color other than yellow or brown.

 

Related:

 

Sources:
Jewelers of America
GIA

Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by JewelryNStyle

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