Different diamonds show different colors, yet in some cases the naked eye can’t even notice a difference. However, the higher the grade, the higher the price of the diamond. In this article I will help you understand color grading, we will do a side by side comparison and I will give you some tips and tricks in order to pick the right diamond. After reading this 3-4 minute article, you’ll know exactly what to look for within your budget.
Table of Contents
Diamonds color scale chart
One of the factors to evaluate a diamond is by identifying how close it appears as colorless – the less color, the higher value it gets (unless we talk about fancy color diamonds, such as red, green, pink – which are not included in the same color range).
The industry follows a color grading system that was created by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America, a non-profit organization), which rates the diamond from D to Z, when D is completely colorless, and followed by lower grades based on the amount of yellowish tint the diamond shows.
We will focus on colors ranging from D to M, as they are the most common when picking a diamond for an engagement ring. This range includes 10 different grades and we are going to split them into 3 groups:
1. Colorless: D,E, F – The highest color grades in the chart, colorless diamonds.
2. Nearly Colorless – G, H, I, J – This group shows a minimal amount of yellow tint, some will even appear as colorless to the naked eye.
3. Faint Tint: K, L, M – This group shows a yellow tint even to the naked eye.
In order to grade the color, the gemologist flips over the diamond with its face down and evaluates its color from side-view. By doing so, the diamond reflects less shine and glow to the geologist’s eyes which allows him to see the real color of the stone. You can do the same by going to the JamesAllen diamond gallery and click on the “side view” on the top left. You can also click on any diamond, open the Superzoom and see the diamond in a full 360HD. In any case, remember that you as the consumer need to focus on how the diamond looks with its face up, and not from its side view.
Natural diamonds color price comparison
All examples in the table below are 1 Carat VS1 natural diamonds with ideal cut and no fluorescence, the only difference is their color. You can click on the image to open the full preview.
Another aspect you should take into consideration when choosing your diamond, is the stone’s fluorescence and how it may affect its overall appearance. Fluorescence refers to the reaction between the diamond and ultraviolet light. In order to eliminate the UV effect on color grading, the GIA and the other major labs grade colors using light which is free of UV. There are five grades of diamond fluorescence: none, faint, medium, strong & strong blue. Since daylight has UV in it, the actual appearance might be different than what the grade in the certificate implies. This is important to understand as it explains why diamonds with fluorescence are generally sold at significant discounts, and you will learn here when this might work for your benefit.
Each color grade influenced differently by the diamond’s fluorescence:
1. Faint Tint: K, L, M – This group has a yellowish tint. By adding a small amount of fluorescence (faint, medium) and under natural light, the stone can get a brighter appearance from the face-up view, while on the side view it may cause a stronger yellow tint. In other words, the face-up can look better than the color grade imply, which is good. Strong fluorescence can cause a similar effect with K, L, M colors, but in some cases it will show a “petrol” color which has a bad appearance and we need to avoid it.
2. Nearly Colorless – G, H, I, J – This group of diamonds shows a minimal amount of yellowish tint, some even appear as colorless to the naked eye. Adding fluorescence may cause a stronger tint. In other words, if you choose medium/strong fluorescence, the diamond might look like its color grading is about 1 grade lower than it really is.
3. Colorless – D, E, F – Diamonds of these grades which have fluorescence might show a yellow tint. Instead of being colorless, strong fluorescence diamond will look as if color is about 2 grades lower than its GIA grade, and medium fluorescence diamond will look as if color is about 1 grade lower.
Photography at Jamesallen is done under daylight and in fixed conditions, which enables you to compare actual colors of diamonds while using side-view. If the price of a diamond with fluorescence is lower than the price of a none- fluorescence diamond and they both show the same actual color, then the fluorescence diamond is a good deal. Other online retailers do not have consistent photography. Different backgrounds and light conditions make it impossible to compare the colors of diamonds.
Tip: I recommend to stay away from diamonds with very strong blue fluorescence. Not only it will strongly affect the actual color of the stone in daylight, but it might also cause to haziness.
Pick the right diamond color for your settings
When searching for a diamond, make sure the diamond looks white relative to its settings. No matter what material the ring is made of, the diamond should always stand out as the brightest main focal point of the whole set.
Platinum or White Gold Settings
This is the most common choice, as most people prefer the iced-white look. If you choose a white gold or platinum ring, you can look for a J diamond or better, since the diamond needs to be brighter than the ring itself.
Yellow Gold or Rose Gold Settings
A yellow gold and rose gold rings can reflect a yellowish tint onto the diamond’s color, especially if the diamond is colorless. For that reason, if you choose to go with yellow gold or rose gold ring, you can save some budget on the color and look for a K, L, M grades.
The truth about "color"
Now let me ask you a question: Which one the next diamonds has a better color grading? (I’ll reveal the answer soon so keep reading…)
Some considerations you need to take when buying a diamond:
1. An untrained eye can’t notice the difference if a diamond has one color, or even two colors, higher or lower. Meaning you can go for nearly-colorless grades (I/H/G) and get a similar effect of an F color diamond. In the example above, diamond #1 has a lower grade, yet it appears as almost identical for the naked eye under daylight (click the photos to see their color gradings). Choosing the lower grade allows you to save some money and invest it on other aspects, for instance getting a larger diamond.
2. Color does influence the appearance of the diamond, but cut is the factor that has the most influence over the brilliance, shine, glow and fire. For that reason, I recommend focussing on the cut quality while finding a good balance with your color choice.
3. Earth-created diamonds which are colorless (F/E/D) are relatively rare to finds, which cause their prices to be less affordable to the average consumer. Therefore, if you are on a budget, you should look for the best combination between the 4 c’s (carat, cut, clarity, color) by choosing a near-colorless grade and not compromising on the other 3 c’s. This logic is not true when talking about lab-grown diamonds, as their prices of colorless diamonds are affordable.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you are looking to get the whole package (colorless diamond, minimum of 1 carat, ideal cut and high clarity) without getting bankrupt you can still get it. Allow me to elaborate:
Diamond #1 is an earth-created diamond, while diamond #2 is a lab-grown diamond. Both share the same characteristics:
What’s the main difference?
While getting the earth-created diamond will make you take $8,000 out of your pocket, getting a lab-created diamond with the same attributes, will cost about $3000. So you can take the $5000 and keep them in your pocket, or invest in a larger and higher quality lab-grown diamond.
Lab diamonds and natural diamonds color price comparison
Prices are based on: 1 Carat VS1 diamonds with ideal cut and no fluorescence.
Don’t order a diamond without knowing exactly what you get.
Doing diamond research can be hard and frustrating, but can be very easy if you choose to buy your diamond online. Not only that it’s much affordable and you can save a lot of money, you also get the option to use advanced technologies, primarily the 360HD with the Super-Zoom which shows the exact color and clarity details of the diamond, so you can evaluate the diamond before you order it. JamesAllen offers a huge selection of diamonds (300,000+), both natural and lab-grown, and all diamonds are photographed with their leading, state of the art, 360HD and Super-Zoom, visualization technology.
In any case, JamesAllen has a 30-day return policy, so if you order it close enough to the proposal date, and you get it wrong, you can always send it back and replace it with the diamond she really wants.