Blog, Buyer's Guide

Diamonds: Color


While we feel that cut is the most important attribute to consider when choosing a diamond, subtle differences in color can dramatically affect a diamond’s value. Two diamonds of the same cut, weight, and clarity may differ in price based on color alone. Even the slightest hint of color can mean a substantial difference. The color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue (like a drop of pure water) and consequently has a higher value.

GIA’s D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z. The color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to round brilliant diamonds of known color, called masterstones.

Diamonds come in many colors; those that range from colorless to light yellow and brown fall within the normal color range. Within that range, however, colorless diamonds are the most rare, which makes them the most valuable. They set the standard for grading and pricing other diamonds in the normal color range. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

So how do you choose?

We found a great primer from Sebastian Naturski (Your Diamond Teacher) on this very topic:

How low can you go in diamond color where the diamond still looks great?

The answer is: It depends! It depends on the diamond shape and the metal you want to use for the ring setting. The colorless group (D to F) will significantly impact the price of your diamond. The faint color group (beginning from K onward) is not typically a good choice thus a good place to start is the near colorless group that ranges from G to J.

The most popular color grade for round cut diamonds is G which is very closely followed by H. If you were to compare a D colored diamond with a G colored one the difference is hardly noticeable to an untrained eye. A diamond when set usually sponges up some of the color of the surrounding metal. This means that the difference between D and G diamonds become even less noticeable. A G colored diamond will give you tremendous value for your money and it will look icy white. Only if you hold a D colored diamond ring directly next to a G colored ring will you realize that the G colored diamond is not as white as humanly possible. However, this eye test only applies to round cut diamonds on white gold or platinum rings!

One good thing about rose gold ring settings is the fact that you can go considerably lower in diamond color compared to white gold or platinum ring settings. This is due to the fact that the diamond will pick up some of the deep rose gold color of the ring setting anyway. This is why you will not really be able to see a difference between an E colored diamond or an H colored diamond in a rose gold ring setting. In fact, going too high in color when choosing a rose gold ring setting is a perfect way to waste your money.

In general, for yellow gold rings any diamond within the J – L Color range will look perfectly fine. People worry that a K colored diamond will show a slight hint of color when it is mounted on the ring. And this is definitely true for white gold and platinum ring settings. However, diamonds tend to absorb much more color off yellow gold than they absorb off white gold. This is why you will not really see the difference between an H colored diamond and a K colored diamond on a yellow gold ring.

Sources: GIA
Sebastian Naturski

In summary, the chart below can help you match your diamond’s cut plus the metal setting with the best diamond colors to chose from. When deciding between diamonds that fit your budget, be sure to ask our onsite experts for their assistance!