Four Cs of a Diamond - Colour
Continuing our series which explores the Four Cs of a diamond, is colour. Less is more in this case as they look for the absence of colour in a diamond so, diamonds with the least amount of colour are worth the most.
To identify the colour grade of a diamond, they are placed side by side with diamonds of a particular grade e.g. G and then scrutinised under lighting and specific viewing criteria, until the correct colour has been identified.
Created by the GIA, the scale starts at D (colourless) and goes down to Z (light yellow or brown).Why start at D? It was in response to previous scales deemed inaccurate or inconsistent.
Don't get fancy-coloured diamonds mixed up with white diamonds. With fancy-coloured diamonds, the more intense the colour, the more valuable it is and they even have their own scale. If you would like more information about that then check out our guide: What Are Fancy-Coloured Diamonds?
In this guide, you'll learn the major differences between the colour grades and an ideal compromise where you have the right colour at the right price.
What is The Best Diamond Colour to Buy?
As you know, diamonds with the least amount of colour are worth the most and this has a dramatic effect on the value of the diamond. Due to this, colour is second to cut in regard to which C is the most important.
In regard to which colour is best, it's necessary to take a closer look at the ranges. So, it ranges from colourless to light coloured diamonds but it's the near colourless range (G-H) which is considered to be a balance between the absence of colour and price, so diamonds of those grades can be a starting point.
However, it's important that you profile the diamond you're looking by exploring the Four Cs and not focusing solely on one aspect. The goal is to find the perfect diamond and not the perfect diamond of a particular C.
Here's an overview of the Diamond Grading Scale.
How Are Diamonds Graded?
Colourless Diamonds (D-F)
The most desirable because of their lack of colour. Diamonds graded between D and F are incredibly rare and highly sought after.
Despite being in the same band, there are subtle differences between D and F. Due to this unknowability, controlled environments are used to identify the correct grade. Why? The final colour grade given will have an impact on the price.
Near Colorless Diamonds (G-H & I-J)
Near colourless diamonds will contain traces of yellow but they still require a controlled environment to see.
One thing that you need to take into account is how broad this banding is.
Diamonds graded as G and H are considered near colourless and I and J showing the transition to traces of yellow being visible without the need for magnification.
Faint Coloured Diamonds (K-M)
This is the point where you can see traces of yellow without putting the diamond under magnification.
The setting this diamond is placed in can impact how clear any traces of yellow are. You can read more about this here: Buying a Diamond in Auction Checklist.
In short, White Gold and Platinum will highlight yellow but yellow gold will be more accommodating.
Very Light Coloured Diamonds (N-R)
Any Diamonds with this grade will contain a presence of yellow or even brown.
The demand for these diamonds is not as high as other bands.
A yellow gold setting means that you can drop down into this band if necessary.
Light Coloured Diamonds (S-Z)
At the bottom of the chart are S-Z whose presence of colour is extremely visible.
The presence of yellow should not be confused with that of fancy-coloured yellow diamonds as they are not the same.
However, diamonds with grades of U to Z can act as a replacement if the wearer wishes.
Are Fancy Coloured Diamonds the Same as White Diamonds?
Fancy coloured diamonds are renowned for their mesmerising colours of red, blue, pink and more. They are known as "fancy” colours and they have a separate grading to normal diamonds.
Trivia - One in every 10,000 diamonds made are naturally coloured.
The fancy colours are graded on their depth of colour. For example, light, vivid and intense. They have grown in popularity and have become fashion items. They have also been used to create some of the most expensive watches in the world. Check out our article: What is the Most Expensive Watch in the World?
When profiling the diamond you want, it's necessary to have a clear indication of what setting you will put the diamond in.
This will have a bearing on the overall aesthetic of the ring because the setting will accentuate a colourless diamond or expose a faint coloured one.
Now that you have an understanding of diamond colour, it's necessary to explore the other Cs such as Carat and Clarity.
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