One of the parameters that determines a white or clear diamond’s value is its color rating. This doesn’t refer to an actual color (red, green, blue etc.) but rather to the pureness of its white or the visibility of any yellow tint. In general, the absence of any color variations or the less visible they are, makes for a more valuable diamond.


The Diamond Color Grading System


The Gemological Institute has developed a system for grading the coloring of clear, white diamonds. This is a system used around the world and is the internationally accepted standard. Diamond certificates (a diamonds unique ID) will contain details of its color rating with the Gemological rating system being used to grade the vast majority of diamonds, even if the grading is done by another laboratory.


Gemological color grading uses a scale of D (pure white or colorless) through to Z (light tinting). All diamonds within this scale are classified as white, even if they contain varying degrees of tinting. Fancy colored diamonds (yellow, blue, pink, green etc.) are graded on a different scale



D -E - F

Diamond in this grade may have some coloring, but it will only be visible to an expert gemologist.

D, E and F diamonds should never be set in yellow gold as the color will be reflected in the diamond giving the stone an appearance of color.

Near Colorless

G - H - I - J

Despite having slight traces of a visible yellow tint, these grade diamonds are considered suitable for white gold and platinum which generally makes tinting more obvious.

Additionally, as these grades are more common than their better quality cousins in the D to F range, the command a high price with prices increasing by some 10% to 20% between each grade.

Faint Color

K - L - M

Discolorations (usually a yellow tint or hue) are more easily seen by the naked eye of non-professional.

They are ideal for setting in yellow gold and can be 50% cheaper than the equivalent G to J grade diamond.

Very Light Color

N to R

These diamond exhibit an easy to see yellow of even brown tint. While this may make them unacceptable to some buyers, the prices and considerably less than for the higher grades of white diamond.

Light Color

S to Z

S to Z color graded diamonds show high levels of color, usually a yellow or brown tint. For many, the color levels in these diamonds is unacceptable despite their relatively low price.



How Color Grading Is Accomplished


In order to accurately and consistently color grade white diamonds, gemology labs and experts use a master set of diamond against which all diamonds being graded are examined.


Diamonds being graded are placed face down as from this viewpoint any color they possess will be more pronounced. Additionally, in this position, brightness and fire are kept to the minimum thus allowing for a more accurate grading.


It is important that diamonds be examined in a strictly regulated and controlled environment in order to negate the effects of external color sources on the diamond. For this reason, diamonds in a metal setting pose a particular problem for the color grader. A yellow gold setting tends to make a slight yellow tint less obvious whilst white gold or white metal will make yellow tints more pronounced.


Some Helpful Tips and Info


If you’re on a budget, look for G to J grade white diamonds. The yellow tint in these grades make them appear colorless to the naked eye and they as significantly cheaper.


Go for smaller, rather than larger diamonds. This is because color tints are easier to detect in larger stones. For stone of more than one carat, look at G to H diamonds and for stones of less than one carat, I to J grades.


The more facets the cut diamond has, so any yellow tint will be less visible. Look for princess cuts or other brilliant cut diamonds.


Be aware of how the seller describes the diamonds color grading. The color grade should be specific – G or D or F. If the seller says that it has a color range of “G to H” for example, this is not an official grading but rather the sellers own evaluation.


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