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Diamond Colour

What is diamond colour?

One of the 4Cs, diamond colour is a measurable grade given to an individual diamond to quantify how colourless it is along a standardized diamond colour chart. The higher-rated diamonds will be as close to colourless as possible, while lower-rated diamonds will often have an increasingly noticeable coloration tint as the ratings move along the colour diamond scale chart. A colourless diamond is a clear gemstone while diamonds further down the diamond rating chart can have a warm hue to them.

It is very rare to find a diamond that doesn't give any colour at all, many gem-size diamonds will have slight hues or coloration due to natural processes during the gemstone’s formation. In fact, diamonds are found in almost any naturally occurring colour, including grey, white, yellow, green, brown and pink. As more diamond deposits have been discovered, certain colourful stones have gained popularity. These fancy coloured diamonds, such as canary diamonds, are prized for their unique colours.

Additional Info About Diamond Colour

  • Part of diamond valuation is determined by the absence of colour, with more colourless diamonds receiving higher grades along the diamond colour and clarity scale.
  • Only certified grading professionals should determine a diamond’s colour grade.
  • The tone of a ring’s setting can affect the appearance of diamond colour.
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Diamond colour is an important characteristic that affects a diamond’s beauty

Like all of the 4Cs, diamond colour is an important consideration when buying a diamond. While colour affects price, there are a number of factors that can help you decide which colour grade is right for you.

The GIA white diamonds colour-grade scale is the industry standard

The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) colour scale is the industry standard for diamond grading. The GIA diamond colour grades range from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). Many people ask why the GIA diamond grading scale starts at D. Arcane systems used grades of A-C, 1-3, and I-III, etc. The GIA set out to standardise these diverse systems and started their diamond colour scale fresh with a grade of D. This is the most used, standardized measurement for diamond colour.


Diamond grades at Blue Nile range from D (colorless) to K (faintly colored)

Colourless diamonds: The rarest and highest quality with a pure icy look.

Near-colourless diamonds: No discernible color; great value for the quality.

Faint colour diamonds: Budget-friendly pick; pairs beautifully with yellow gold.

Helpful Hint: Diamond prices decline or increase in alphabetical order. For example, a diamond with a G colour grade is less expensive than a diamond with a D colour grade.

Blue Nile does not sell L-Z colour grade diamonds

Diamonds in the L-Z range have a noticeably warm yellow hue which do not meet the quality and value standards at Blue Nile. We do, however, sell fancy coloured diamonds that are graded on a different scale and are highly prized.

Which Diamond Colour Is Best?

The best diamond colour is the one that fits your budget. The absence of colour in a diamond is the rarest and therefore, the most expensive. While the majority of our customers choose a D or E colour grade, many go with a beautiful near colourless grade to make the most of their budget and allocate more on the best cut that they can afford (which gives them more sparkle).

Deciding whether or not you want to spend more on diamond colour grade is partly related to the size and shape of the diamond that you are considering, and your setting preference. You can save by knowing how colour affects these attributes.

Colour is more visible in large diamonds

If you’re buying a diamond under 1 carat, you might consider choosing an I, J, or K colour diamond. Going over 1 carat? We recommend H colour-grade diamonds or higher. This is because the larger a diamond is, the more likely it is to show any colour.

Setting Also Impacts Colour Appearance in a Diamond

It’s also smart to consider the colour of precious metal for your setting that best complements the colour grade of your diamond. For example, yellow gold casts a warm glow and looks best with diamonds with faint colour. Platinum or white gold will make a near-colourless diamond look icier.

Shape Can Influence Diamond Colour

Certain fancy-shaped diamonds hide colour better than others—and can cost up to 25% less than a round-cut diamond. Cushion, princess and radiant cut diamonds are known for masking colour well with their multifaceted sparkle.

The difference between white diamonds and fancy coloured diamonds

When is colour a good thing? As mentioned before, diamonds occur in the natural rainbow spectrum of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, and more. These are known as coloured diamonds. Only 1 in every 10,000 diamonds possess natural colour, and the more intense the colour, the rarer and more valuable the diamond. Fancy-coloured diamonds are graded on a separate colour scale and can be even more valuable than white diamonds.

Learn More about Coloured Diamonds

Diamond Colour Scale FAQs

The diamond colour scale is a quality chart used to quantify how colourless a diamond is. The GIA diamond colour scale is the industry standard. You can learn more about colour differences along the scale in our diamond quality chart.

The most valuable and rarest colour grade is a D colour diamond, which is fully colourless. Diamonds graded D-F are the most colourless options available. That being said, the best colour is one that matches your budget. More tinted diamonds, such as an I colour diamond, can still bring incredible sparkle and the right setting will complement the diamond’s hues.

During the diamond formation process, trace elements of other chemicals such as nitrogen or boron can cause coloration to occur.

In terms of positioning along the diamond colour scale, G colour diamonds are more valuable than I colour diamonds. But both are highly prized diamonds that make great centre stones for engagement rings and other jewellery.

H colour diamonds are considered near colourless and are an excellent value. Their faint yellow hue is virtually impossible to detect unless the diamond is set directly next to diamonds of higher colour grades.

Highly faceted diamonds, such as radiant, cushion or princess cut diamonds often mask colour the best.

The metal you choose for a diamond setting can complement or downplay its colours. For example, warmer diamonds in the I-K range look best in yellow gold engagement ring settings. More colourless diamonds are best enhanced by platinum or white gold engagement ring settings.

While colour is an important factor in selecting a stone, diamond cut is the most important element to consider. A well-cut diamond can maximise sparkle while downplaying any coloration.

Next: Diamond Clarity

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