I thought diamonds had no color. What does Color mean?
Even though diamonds are considered as colorless, most are shades of light yellow and brown. A diamond with no color at all is extremely rare and ranks as the highest color grade.
Diamonds are color graded on a scale from D (totally colorless) to Z (conspicuously yellowish or brownish). Color saturation gradually increases with each letter grade. Anything more than the ‘Z’ grade is considered a Fancy Colored diamond. Diamonds are found naturally in every color of the rainbow.
How are diamonds color graded?
Color grading involves determining how little or much body color is in a diamond. The less body color, the higher the grade; the more body color, the lower the grade. This process has nothing to do with identifying hue, everything to do with deciding the amount—or, more accurately, the lack--of it.
Diamonds are assigned one of 23 possible rankings from D (colorless) to Z (light yellowish or brownish). Using pre-graded comparison stones, known as Masters, gemologists find the closest color match from among the Masters to the stone being graded.
A gemologist begins by placing the diamond being graded to the left of the Master Set to get a general idea of the color. Then they move the diamond to the right of the Master-diamond that is a bit more saturated than the diamond being graded. The grader continues to compare the diamond to the known Color Master diamonds until they determine the exact color. The difference between each color grade is very slight, but with experience, experts are able to consistently determine the accurate color grade of each diamond.
Because color grading is a quantity call, the diamonds are studied in the face-down (or bottom-up) position. This means that graders view the diamond’s pavilion and culet rather than its table or crown. Why? To eliminate interfering brilliance and glare coming from the diamond’s top.
Why does the color scale start at the letter D?
If you’re wondering why the scale starts at ‘D’ rather than ‘A,’ it’s because it was common to sell diamonds as Triple A when the scale was introduced in 1953. To avoid any similarities with prior ratings that were arbitrary and inflated, the jewelry industry adopted a color scale from D to Z.
How do I know my diamond was graded correctly?
Make sure your diamond comes with a Grading Certificate from a respected gemological laboratory, such as GCAL. GCAL is an independent laboratory, not affiliated with any jewelers, and has the consumers’ best interests in mind.
Before GCAL gives a diamond its color grade, it is individually examined by two experts and verified by a third senior expert. GCAL’s laboratory is a controlled environment, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and lighting. There are only a handful of gemological laboratories in the world so well equipped.
In addition, GCAL uses only Precision Master Color diamonds for color grading comparison. Every diamond in each Precision Master Color set is specially selected because it is precisely the right color. GCAL examines thousands of diamonds to compile just one Precision Master Color set.
Although grading diamonds is an expert opinion and not an exact science, maintaining meticulous gemological tools, such as Precision Master Color sets, is one way that GCAL ensures the most accurate, objective and consistent grading possible.
And don’t forget… GCAL is the only diamond grading company to stand behind their grading with a money-backed grading guarantee.
Will my diamond change color as it ages?
No. The color of a diamond is stable and permanent. You can leave your diamond in the sun or boil it in cleaner – it will not change color.
The color of diamonds can only be changed by advanced methods such as exposure to intense radiation energy or heating to extreme temperatures, such as 2000°C, while under tremendous pressure. These methods, known as treatments, are used on purpose to change or enhance the color of diamonds. If your diamond has undergone one of these treatments, then it must be disclosed by the jeweler and will be stated on your GCAL Certificate.
Does the metal I choose for a ring affect the diamond’s appearance?
Yes. Diamonds graded between ‘D’ to ‘H’ color look best when set in white metals such as platinum, palladium or white gold. Diamonds with more color, graded ‘I-J’ and lower, are best complimented by a yellow gold setting.
What causes the different colors of diamonds?
In theory, a diamond is pure carbon with a perfect atomic structure, but in the real world, this is extremely rare. On the atomic level, every diamond has some imperfections such as misaligned structure or, very commonly, impurities such as nitrogen and hydrogen. Nitrogen impurities cause yellow colors, boron impurities cause blue colors and structural imperfections cause pink and brown colors.
What is the difference between a fancy yellow diamond and a ‘bad’ regular diamond?
The letter diamond color scale ends with ‘Z’, but color saturation doesn’t stop at ‘Z’; colors continue to increase in color and are considered Fancy Colored.
Fancy Colored diamonds are graded on a broader scale that starts with ‘Fancy Light’, then just ‘Fancy’, then ‘Fancy Intense’ and lastly, the very rare ‘Fancy Vivid’.
We don’t consider any diamond to be a ‘bad’ color, however, more common colors are the least costly and rare colors are the most costly. To understand how price relates to color grades, think of the entire color scale, from ‘D’ to ‘Fancy Vivid’ as a bell curve. The rarest and most costly diamonds – completely colorless and brightly colored – are at each end, and the more common slightly tinged diamonds – ‘O’ to ‘S’ – are in the middle.
Read about How Color Affects Value
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A, B, C’s AND 1, 2, 3’s
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