If you are thinking of buying a diamond, a color of diamonds chart can help you to decide which one you want. Diamond color is one of the four main attributes of a diamond that are graded by gemologists in deciding the overall quality of the diamond. Those attributes are color, cut, clarity and carat weight.
Why Color of Diamonds is Important
The industry leader in grading diamonds, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has developed a system of grading diamonds that is universally accepted throughout the jewelry industry. Their system ensures that every diamond will be graded on the same scale, so consumers can be sure that their diamond has been graded correctly and fairly.
Color is one of the most important attributes of a diamond that determines how valuable the diamond is. Traditionally, completely colorless diamonds are the most valuable. The GIA color of diamonds chart can be used to judge a diamond’s color, and thus its value.
Most naturally mined diamonds have some color. The most common color of diamonds is yellow to brown. In fact, about 80% of all diamonds mined are considered to be yellow or brown diamonds. On a side note, at one time, those brown diamonds were not considered to be of good quality and were not used in jewelry. Most of them were used for other applications, like manufacturing.
The color in diamonds comes from lattice defects in their internal structure and from impurities contained within the diamond material. Nitrogen is mostly responsible for the yellow and brown color that occurs in diamonds. Yellow diamonds are the most common, followed by brown diamonds. As you probably already know, just because a diamond has some color in it does not mean it is worthless. On the contrary, some colored diamonds such as blue and red or pink diamonds can be worth even more than colorless diamonds. Their rarity is probably the reason for this, since it is extremely rare to find blue, pink or red diamonds.
Even though some colored diamonds are more rare, completely colorless diamonds are still extremely rare and are generally very expensive, especially if they have few or no flaws and have been cut well. An absolutely clear, flawless diamond will be out of most people’s budget, unfortunately. However, there are some absolutely stunning diamonds available even to pocketbook-impaired folks (like me!) that have a very slight color rating and have some very slight flaws in them.
G, H, I, J – nearly colorless
K, L, M – faint color
N, O, P, Q, R – very light color
S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z – obvious color
A grade of D is considered to be colorless, and Z is a diamond with obvious light yellow color. Diamonds with more yellow color in them than those graded with a Z are then considered to be “fancy colored” yellow diamonds. The above scale is for what are considered to be colorless diamonds only.
Fancy colored diamonds such as chocolate diamonds and yellow diamonds are graded completely different than clear diamonds are. With colored diamonds, the intensity of color is the most important factor, not the lack of color, as with clear diamonds.
How Diamonds are Graded for Color
In order to grade diamonds for color, trained gemologists examine each diamond and compare the color they see with previously graded diamonds under strictly controlled lighting and viewing conditions. Not just anyone can do this color grading. Only highly trained, certified technicians do the grading. The controlled conditions ensure that each diamond is graded in exactly the same manner as every other diamond. The scale is easy to use, as the farther down the color scale the diamond is rated, the lower its value. It is a simple system, but a very powerful one which ensures consumers of knowing the exact quality of the diamonds they intend to purchase.
All diamonds should come with a grading certificate from an accredited gem lab such as GIA. If the diamond you want doesn’t have a certificate, look elsewhere. Some lower-cost diamond jewelry may not come with a certificate, and the lower price alone will tell you that the jewelry is made with acceptable quality, yet not stellar quality diamonds. This type of jewelry may not be heirloom quality, but will still be pretty enough to use as “everyday jewelry” for most people.
It can be a bit intimidating to shop for diamonds while you try to remember all of the grading information that is applied to them, so feel free to print the diamond color chart below to use when you see the certificate for a diamond you want to buy. You can easily see what color the letter grade given to your diamond correlates to by referring to our color of diamonds chart; now you can be sure you will get what you are paying for, and you will end up with a gorgeous diamond that will surely become a family treasure in years to come!