By Ashley Bailey , Wednesday, August 23, 2006 12:00 AM
Even though they are transparent, most diamonds contain some hint of color. This is caused by the presence of nitrogen in the earth where they formed. Diamond color grading is done on a scale of D to Z.
D is ‘icy-white.’ These diamond are the most colorless and most rare, so they are considered most valuable. There are 23 descending grades, so the increasing hints of color are very slight. The average person cannot distinguish between several color grades. D, E and F diamonds are all considered colorless to normal vision. G, H, I and J are called near-colorless but still considered to be in the white range. K through Z are faint yellow to yellowish or brownish. A diamond with more color than a Z is a ‘fancy colored diamond’ and could be a different color like pink or blue. These ‘fancy colors’ are not graded on the same scale.
grading report from the ags or gia
If you’re shopping on the internet you can’t make color determinations with imagery or photos. It’s best to speak with a trusted expert who has the diamond in hand.
The shape of a diamond influences the amount of color people may see in it. A round brilliant is the most efficient shape for returning light and will show less apparent color than a mixed cut like a princess, or a step cut like an emerald or asscher. But most important is how well the diamond was cut.
Diamonds are graded in the face-down position and viewed for color from the side. This is because great light return in a diamond can ‘mask’ color, especially in round brilliants. Extremely well-cut diamonds may appear more colorless in the face-up position than the grade they received at the lab due to superior light return. For instance, a diamond that was graded H in the side position can ‘face-up’ like a G or an F, but only if it was cut extremely well.
Whiteflash first sold only diamonds in the D-I range, but our commitment to cut quality resulted in the majority of our near-colorless diamonds to face up several grades better. As a result we are now selling colors as low as K, to the delight of many consumers.
Some people are more color-sensitive than others. One person may see color in a diamond that appears to have no color to someone else. Even if you have great sensitivity to color you may have different preferences than others. The icy whiteness of a D may appeal to one person, while the warmer look of a J appeals to another. A third person may not see any difference between the two.
Remember that diamonds absorb the color of their surroundings, so it’s best to judge them against a white background. Once mounted a diamond will show less color than it did loose. Remember that the choice of setting may influence your diamond’s color. If you choose a gold setting and have a colorless diamond that diamond may absorb and reflect back some of the setting color. There are many different combinations and no single one is for everyone. Ultimately the choices are determined by personal preference and sensitivity.
A small percentage of diamonds fluoresce under UV light. This is harmless and the presence of blue fluorescence can even raise a diamond’s apparent color. In some circumstances a diamond graded as having “strong fluorescence” may appear oily or milky, but not always.
Fluorescence other than blue should be avoided unless it exists in a fancy colored diamond of the same color.
High Pressure High Temperature treatment (HPHT) is a process where a diamond is irradiated to improve its color. We sell only natural diamonds and do not deal in those with color or clarity enhancements. Sellers who do are required to disclose the fact that they were so treated.
- Color can’t be judged in photos or on monitors.
- Consider which lab assigned the grade.
- Wear a white, gray or black top when shopping.
- Judge color against a white background.
- View the diamond unmounted.
- View the diamond from the side looking for tint.
- Compare side versus face up appearance.
- With “very strong” fluorescence look for an oily or milky appearance.
- Consider your diamond’s color when choosing your setting.
- See the diamond in the proposed mounting before purchase.
For more specific questions ask our experts