Diamond Color Grades
Diamond Color: What are the different color grades and what do they mean?
COLOR in the diamond trade usually refers to the amount of yellow in a stone, but can also indicate brown or gray and sometimes all three. The most treasured diamond color is actually the “colorless” grade — one without any color at all.
Today’s standard color grading scale was first developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Other color scales are still used in other parts of the world. If you are looking at diamonds with non-GIA certificates, see our comparison chart of the major color scales.
The GIA scale starts with D for perfectly colorless stones, and gives a Z color grade to diamonds having a noticeable yellow tint, with every letter between indicating the many gradations possible. Most people find colors D through L to be the most attractive, and they are the most rare as well. This means they are also more expensive. Some people prefer the pronounced yellow tints, so their chosen diamond will be much less expensive.
Below are samples of several diamond colors (with variations depending on your monitor). Note the subtle differences among colors as you go down the alphabet from D (perfect, colorless) to Z (the most yellow and least expensive).
Most people never imagine that diamonds of other colors, called “fancies,” are also available in very limited supply. Diamonds with more color than the Z shown here include fancy yellow, canary yellow, and others. The more expensive and treasured stones have pure tints with very little brown or gray tones to wash the fancy color. Colors such as “intense purplish pink,” perhaps the most rare and treasured of fancy diamond colors, might sell for as much as $125,000 per carat for 1-carat stones, wholesale!
Knowing the 4 Cs is NOT enough to price a diamond accurately.
Use our Diamond Pricing Tutorial to learn the easiest and most accurate way to calculate the best possible price for any diamond you want. That will take you through the process step by step, and it’s easy. The only other thing you will need, is a totally honest jeweler to show you about diamonds, help you find a diamond like you want, and put it in the ring of your choice. If you cannot find a good jeweler, we rate the top dealers for you.