It’s Diamond 4C Month: Examining Diamond Color

diamond ringIf you’re an April baby, celebrating your 60th wedding anniversary, engaged, or you just love sparkly things, a diamond may be in your future.

More than any other gem, buying a diamond is anxiety-provoking. It’s expensive. No two are  the same. And how do you know if you’re getting what you’re paying for? That’s where the 4Cs come in: Diamond color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Together, these offer a level playing field for  diamonds that can give you a better idea of what you’re getting.

Here’s the first C: Color.

The color grading scale

A diamond’s color is actually a lack of color. As the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) states, the less color in the stone, the more desirable and valuable it is. Some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, but directly impact the overall quality and price of the stone. The GIA matches diamonds against a masterstone series to detect the rating.

Suite of three diamond master stones; "E", "K-L" and "Z" in grading position: table down, pavilion view.

Suite of three diamond master stones; “E”, “K-L” and “Z” in grading position: table down, pavilion view. Courtesy of GIA

The GIA’s color grading scale runs from colorless (which the GIA refers to as the hue of “a drop of water”) to near colorless, to faint, to very light, to light. The letters range from D, the most sought-after color all the way to Z in the light category (yellow or brown diamonds).

How  diamonds are graded for color

Stones are graded loose without a setting, which could reflect their color. A GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) is trained to deal with the entire spectrum of diamonds.

Colored diamonds

brown fancy diamond

Brown fancy color diamond, courtesy of GIA

A diamond with a Z rating is not what we think of as the increasingly popular colored diamond. They’re referred to by the GIA as “fancy color” diamonds. The American Gem Society shares this tip: “Colorless diamonds are higher priced…However, many people like the warmth of a faint to light yellow or brown diamond. If that describes you, then you can find great value in that type of diamond.”

I know that buying a diamond can be overwhelming. If you need help, are thinking of trading up, or want your current diamond jewelry appraised, let me know. I can help you with all of the 4Cs.

Brilliantly yours,


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