One of the “four C” criteria for diamond valuation is diamond color. As with the other rating categories, a diamond with a superior color grade will always carry a higher price than a diamond with an inferior grade.
Although color seems like a fairly self-explanatory criterion, the causes behind a diamond’s coloration and the implications it has can be a bit complicated. When shopping for diamonds, you’ll likely come across diamonds that fall into a wide variety of color grades, even though small differences can sometimes be very difficult to discern. Diamond color is just as important as any of the other 4 Cs, so it’s a good idea to be aware of what the different color ratings mean.
What is diamond color?
The color grade of a diamond reflects the extent to which coloration is visible within the diamond. Diamonds that have less visible coloration receive a better color rating, while diamonds with the lowest color ratings have coloration that is clearly visible to the naked eye.
In most cases, this coloration takes the form of a yellowish hue, and this is generally considered undesirable. On the other hand, there are some diamonds with deep natural color that are actually considered more valuable the more intense the color is. In addition to bright yellow diamonds, these can also include blue diamonds, pink diamonds, and the extremely rare red diamonds. The normal color grades do not apply to these special diamonds.
What diamond color grades are there?
Certifiers use a simple letter grading system to express the color rating of diamonds. These ratings are almost always expressed in the same way regardless of which organization is certifying the diamond. The diamond color grades are as follows.
- D: Absolutely colorless. These diamonds are very rare and expensive.
- E-F: Colorless. Any coloration is invisible to the naked eye.
- G-H: Near colorless. Coloration is very difficult to see.
- J: Near colorless. Coloration is slightly visible.
- K-M: Noticeable color. Coloration is easily visible.
- N-Z: Noticeable color. Coloration is strong enough to detract from the other visual aspects of the diamond.
Which diamond color grade represents the best value?
The best value can usually be found with diamonds that fall into the G-I range of color grades. This is because, while these diamonds are virtually white to the naked eye, they can be significantly more affordable than rare “colorless” diamonds. J-L-rated diamonds can also be a good value for buyers on a budget, as the yellowish tint in these diamonds is still only slightly noticeable, and does not have much of a negative impact on the diamond’s overall appearance.