Diamonds are widely regarded as the most beautiful and also among the most valuable of the precious stones found in this world. Often used as the expected stone for weddings and marriages, a number of factors determine the value of a specific diamond. These factors include shape, cut, and size. The geographic origin of a diamond is also an influence, as there is a marketplace demand for conflict-free diamonds, or diamonds mined in ethical or sustainable manners.
However, despite all this, one single influence that has tremendous impact on price is the diamond color. And this is something that is actually quite elaborately established. Those not familiar with diamonds might assume that they are all white, clear, or crystal in color, but this is truly not the case. There is in fact a spectrum of diamond colors, ranging from light color to colorless, and in each of these ranges, there are often multiple subsections of diamond classes available.
The GIA Color Scale
The majority of the diamond industry and its sellers and dealers measure diamond clarity and color using the GIA scale. This is named after GIA, a nonprofit organization that is not owned either in full or partially by any businesses in the diamond industry. The GIA laboratory group is the trusted and objective independent authority in the world for professionally measuring diamonds, and even businesses that do not get their rocks GIA certified often use GIA scales and methods to determine measurements.
Diamond color possibilities run the spectrum. Most of the diamonds on the market are colorless or nearly so, as that is the demand of consumers, however some specific colors are actually quite cherished too, such as pink diamonds, blue diamonds, and yes even yellow diamonds. On the other hand, a consumer looking for a white diamond will not want even a hint of yellow, so a little color can truly tarnish the price of a diamond.
The reason laboratories are used is not just to impress consumers. In fact, the actual color of a diamond is often impossible to detect with the naked eye under normal light. In today’s high tech world, the precision with which color can be measured is incredibly detailed and accurate, and so the market spread of prices is equally diverse and accurate.
GIA diamond grades often come on two different scales. Colorless through light color diamonds are graded using letters D through Z. All diamonds on the D-Z scale are considered to be white diamonds, even if they have a little bit of color. A different scale is used for fancy diamonds that predominantly have other base colors, like the aforementioned blues, pinks, and yellows. Since most of the diamonds in the marketplace are white ones, the rest of this article discusses the D-Z scale of diamond color. Other colored diamonds are typically specialty items that have to be specially requested or custom ordered, so if you see these in jewelry or diamond stores at high prices, be wary.
Colorless and Near colorless Diamonds
The letters D, E, and F are reserved for truly colorless diamonds. There are minute differences between them, but they are typically only noted by a trained gemologist doing comparisons between multiple diamonds. If you ever purchase a D, E, or F diamond as a piece of jewelry, or with the intention of making a piece, consider that these should only get set in white gold or platinum. Anything yellow is going to be reflective of colored light, which will prevent the colorless effect of D-F diamonds.
Near colorless diamonds usually prove to be a better bang for your buck. These are typically graded G through J, and also work great in settings of platinum or white gold. I and J diamonds in particular are useful, because they are far more common than D, E, and F stones. While prices on the marketplace vary, you might find a J diamond for half the price of a D variant, but with no noticeable difference to the naked eye.
Faint color diamonds are rated K, L, and M, and this is where a slight tint of color is actually visible to an unaided or untrained eye. The tint is usually yellow, so setting them in a yellow gold often works well, and a K rock is typically half the cost of a G stone.
N through R stones are listed as very light color, but are often hard to find due to lack of demand. Light color stones listed as S through Z are also only available through custom ordering through most dealers due to low market value and demand.
Now that you know a few things about diamond color, you won’t be overwhelmed if a diamond dealer starts talking about the GIA scale, you’ll know what is going on and what price points are going to bring you value that really shines. It is this king of knowledge with which you can save money on diamonds.