Color of Diamonds Education: The diamond color chart explained

Diamonds come in a dazzling array of colors in all the different hues of the rainbow - from pink to blue and green to orange. However, when it comes to popularity all over the world, colorless diamonds still reign supreme. When talking about color, there are two different types of color grades: fancy color and colorless. One refers to colored diamonds such as pink, yellow and blue diamonds. These are called fancy colored diamonds and they are very, very rare to be found in nature. In fancy colored diamonds, a stronger presence of color improves the color grade. The opposite is true for colorless diamonds.

Colorless diamonds

These diamonds are assessed on a scale from D to Z, where the intensity and presence of color is graded across the spectrum where D represents completely colorless - the most sought after diamond quality and incredibly rare. As you move down the spectrum, while still referred to as 'colorless', diamonds with a lower color grading will have an increasing slight yellowish or even brownish hue. That body color can be caused by any number of things including traces of chemicals that remained within the diamond during its formation process deep down under the earth's crust. All diamonds reflect light in a dispersed rainbow - that color flash has no effect on the color grading when it comes the the body color of the loose diamond.

The diamond color grading process

Diamonds are examined by professional diamond graders and labs to assign certain quality grades across the 4Cs (color, clarity, cut and carat) and other features such as fluorescence. Among the various grading labs, the GIA is without a doubt the most authoritative and trustworthy source of diamond grading. In fact, it was the GIA that developed the 4Cs system we all know today which helped to standardize diamond quality appraisals and diamond pricing methodologies. When diamond experts at the GIA receive a loose diamond for color grading, they will compare the stone to a set of master stones under natural lighting. The master stones are exact matches for each of the varying diamond color grades along a spectrum ranging from D to Z. When a match is found, the new stone is assigned the color grade of the associated master stone.

Diamond color grades: From D to Z

While there are still slightly noticeable differences, when talking about diamond color we usually group certain grades together because they look very comparable. So let's take a look at the differences between these diamond color groups:
  • D, E & F: Diamonds with this grade hold the ultimate and most sought title of colorless diamonds. The difference between D and E will likely not be easy to see, but experienced diamond graders under natural lighting will be able to see the difference and separate D color diamonds from E color diamonds.
  • G, H, I & J: When diamonds are graded within this group, we refer to them as near colorless. That said, these diamonds very often appear to be colorless when they are mounted and looked at face up - like you normally would when wearing a diamond ring. Most people will be able to see slight yellowish or brownish hue at the lower end of this spectrum, around I and J color. If that's something you want to avoid, stay in the upper G and H color grades.
  • K, L & M: While still absolutely stunning, most people will be able to see the color hue in these diamonds when mounted.  That's why K, L and M diamond color grades are a lot less popular.
  • O –Z: Diamonds within this group have an obvious light-yellow color or even brown tones. At this point, it would be a much smarter purchase to look for yellow diamonds instead to make sure you get a diamond that has a bright yellow color and as a fancy colored diamond will hold its value over time.