Home » Education » Diamond » Diamond Color
Diamond Color

When diamond experts and graders appraise the color of a diamond, they're actually looking for a lack of color or degree of transparency. The most valuable white diamonds contain no color at all and are composed purely of carbon. This is extremely rare, however, and most diamonds contain traces of nitrogen, which turn them a little yellow or brown, or other elements that may also affect their transparency. Fancy-coloured diamonds can be coloured blue, red, pink, green, orange, yellow, brown and black – or even multi-coloured in some cases – and these are a different class of diamond and not typically what we refer to when we assess color as one of the 'four Cs'.

Diamond Color Grades

The international diamond industry has adopted the Gemological Institute of America's (GIA) color grading system as its industry standard. When experts analyse a diamond's colour, they will look at it face down under special light and compare it to a master stone. The clearest or whitest color grade possible is a 'D', and continues right through to 'Z' for low-quality stones that are quite brownish or yellowish.

Near Colorless
Faint Yellow
Light Yellow

The GIA grades diamond color as follows:

D Completely Colorless: the highest quality color grade a diamond can receive. Very rare and expensive.
E These diamonds are almost totally transparent and contain so little color that an untrained eye wouldn't be able to see it. They are also very rare and expensive.
F These diamonds are almost totally transparent and contain so little color that an untrained eye wouldn't be able to see it. They are also very rare and expensive.
G-H Diamonds of this grade still appear almost totally colourless, with color that is extremely slight. Still considered excellent value, these diamonds attract a slightly lower price than their higher-graded counterparts.
I-J These nearly colourless diamonds display a small amount of colour, but only when looked at with magnifying equipment under certain light conditions. Given that most people cannot see the color within these diamonds, their excellent value for money render them the most popular grades.
K-M These diamonds contain noticeable traces of pale yellow, but can still be very beautiful if they are cut well.
N-Z Any diamonds within these grades will be distinctly yellow in color and should only be purchased if you are specifically after a white diamond with a yellow tone.


Diamonds with a high fluorescence may appear slightly purplish or bluish in natural light - similar to the bluish glow white items produce when held under a strong UV light. The Gemological Institute of America recently began characterising diamond fluorescence on their reports, which can be graded as "None", 'Faint', 'Medium' or 'Strong', which spans the weakest to strongest degrees of natural fluorescence. Most diamond fluorescence isn't detectable under normal light and therefore doesn't affect its appearance. However, diamonds with a high color grade coupled with a strong fluorescence may appear a little cloudy, while diamonds of a low color grade and strong fluorescence may appear whiter than they actually are.

Choosing a Color Grade

Most untrained eyes will find it difficult to detect the difference between diamonds that are considered almost colourless; however, even the subtlest of differences may sharply affect their value. Certain stones, such as round brilliant, make color detection very difficult, and anything over the color grading 'I' will appear colourless to most people. Some experts argue that completely colourless diamonds reflect light too harshly with a slight amount of color actually softening the appearance of a diamond. The shade of a diamond's setting can also affect how its color is perceived, given that a diamond's color is most evident when compared to a white or colourless background. Diamonds with pointed-end cuts, such as pear, radiant, marquis, and trillion, also tend to expose color more than other cuts, as the color will become concentrated in their finer points. Therefore, if choosing a pointed-end diamond, it's best to avoid any color gradings below 'H' (unless the setting's prongs are hiding the spots of colour). Finally, if you are going to choose a ring combining more than one stone, it's extremely important to keep them within one color grade of each other.
Customer Service