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Diamond Color

What is diamond color?

One of the 4Cs, diamond color is a measurable grade given to an individual diamond to quantify how colorless it is along a standardized diamond color chart. The higher-rated diamonds will be as close to colorless as possible, while lower-rated diamonds will often have an increasingly noticeable coloration tint as the ratings move along the color diamond scale chart. A colorless 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 color 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 color, including gray, white, yellow, green, brown and pink. As more diamond deposits have been discovered, certain colorful stones have gained popularity. These fancy colored diamonds, such as canary diamonds, are prized for their unique colors.

Additional Info About Diamond Color

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

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

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

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale is the industry standard for diamond grading. The GIA diamond color 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 standardize these diverse systems and started their diamond color scale fresh with a grade of D. This is the most used, standardized measurement for diamond color.


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

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

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

Faint color 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 color grade is less expensive than a diamond with a D color grade.

Blue Nile does not sell L-Z color 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 colored diamonds that are graded on a different scale and are highly prized.

Which Diamond Color Is Best?

The best diamond color is the one that fits your budget. The absence of color in a diamond is the rarest and therefore, the most expensive. While the majority of our customers choose a D or E color grade, many go with a beautiful near colorless 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 color 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 color affects these attributes.

Color is more visible in large diamonds

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

Setting Also Impacts Color Appearance in a Diamond

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

Shape Can Influence Diamond Color

Certain fancy-shaped diamonds hide color 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 color well with their multifaceted sparkle.

The difference between white diamonds and fancy colored diamonds

When is color 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 colored diamonds. Only 1 in every 10,000 diamonds possess natural color, and the more intense the color, the rarer and more valuable the diamond. Fancy-colored diamonds are graded on a separate color scale and can be even more valuable than white diamonds.

Learn More about Colored Diamonds

Diamond Color Scale FAQs

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

The most valuable and rarest color grade is a D color diamond, which is fully colorless. Diamonds graded D-F are the most colorless options available. That being said, the best color is one that matches your budget. More tinted diamonds, such as an I color 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 color scale, G color diamonds are more valuable than I color diamonds. But both are highly prized diamonds that make great center stones for engagement rings and other jewelry.

H color diamonds are considered near colorless 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 color grades.

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

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

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

Next: Diamond Clarity

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