Diamond color is one of the four main qualities of a diamond – or one of the ‘four C’s’ along with clarity, cut and carat weight – which can help in the selection of a diamond. After cut, the color of a diamond is generally considered to be the next most important characteristic. The cut determines the brilliance or sparkle of the gemstone, and this is what the eye catches first, with color detected second.
Grading of Diamonds
Diamonds are graded according to their level of whiteness, with a color grade of D the highest possible, and Z the lowest. The clearer the diamond, the more light it will allow to pass through it thereby emitting more fire and sparkle - and the rarer it will be.
The Gemological Institute of America (the GIA) brought in guidelines which are used to grade diamond in terms of its color. In order to be graded, the diamonds must be loose stones since their color can be affected by the metal settings. The color within diamonds appears as pale yellow so that a lower grade diamond (an N-Z diamond) will appear to have the most noticeable color. Diamonds of grade J and above appear near colorless. Grades E to F contain color which is so small only an expert would be able to detect it, making these very rare. A D grade diamond however is absolutely colorless and is extremely rare.
This is an effect which can be seen in certain diamonds if they are exposed to ultraviolet light (for instance in a night club). Whether this will affect a decision to buy is down to personal taste – some people enjoy the effect whilst many do not. Fluorescence makes very little difference to the appearance of a diamond under normal lighting conditions – although its existence can make a difference to the price.
Colorless graded diamonds often have a lower price tag when they exhibit fluorescence – and lower grades (K to M) are slightly higher in price when they exhibit this quality. This is because, according to some experts, fluorescence causes colorless diamonds to look somewhat cloudy. The opposite applies when it comes to more colored diamonds with the fluorescence making the gems appear whiter.
Fancy diamonds can be any color from green to blue to bright yellow – those with deeper colors attract higher prices, and therefore graded in a completely different way to white diamonds.
Diamond Color Treatments
Some diamond’s can be changed quite dramatically in terms of color, through the use of HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) processing. These treatments can be used to enhance the color of a diamond temporarily.
What’s the Right Diamond color for me?
Purists will only be happy with the highest grade of diamond – those which are colorless or contain no visible color to the naked eye. However, the G –I graded diamonds can offer excellent value for money, with color virtually undetectable, unless placed next to diamonds of a higher grade.
When deciding on the grade of diamond the setting should also be taken into consideration – if the setting is platinum it may be preferable to decide on a higher color grade than if the setting is yellow gold, for instance. This is because a slightly yellow diamond will appear more colorless when placed within a white setting. Mounting the same diamond in a yellow setting will enhance its yellow tones.
Also, whilst many yearn for the exclusivity of the most colorless of diamonds, some people prefer diamonds to have the warmth of the lower grade diamonds. When buying a diamond it’s perfectly possible to find one which is well within budget yet high in quality.