A diamond’s color is one of the first things that someone will notice when purchasing a diamond, making it an important component when it comes to price. The diamond color grading scale for white diamond starts at D and ends with Z, with D being colorless and the most desirable and Z being light yellow or light brown and the least desirable.
What methods are used to find color grade?
To determine a diamonds’ color grade, a Gemologist compares each diamond to a number of other diamonds known as a ‘master set’. Each diamond within this set is allocated a specific a letter on the grading scale. By seeing where a new stone fits among the master set, a trained gemologist will be able to ascertain where on the scale it belongs.
Additionally, they turn the stone upside down so that its table is facing down. This is so that the brilliance, or reflecting light, doesn’t interfere with the grading.
What is the color grading scale, and where did it come from?
The color grading scale for white diamonds ranges from D to Z, with D being colorless and Z being light yellow or brown. The less color the stone has, the more valuable it is. Anything beyond Z falls into the fancy colored diamond category, where the opposite correlation between color and value applies, i.e. the more color the better.
Why does it start at D and not A? A standardized color grading system for white diamonds was first introduced in 1953 by the GIA. Up until this point, different jewelers used any term they preferred. A, B and C were common grading terms used but lacked any clear definition. To remove themselves from any association with this terminology, the GIA decided to start the scale at D.
What creates color in diamonds?
A diamond is formed more than 200 miles below the earth’s surface, when carbon atoms are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. Impurities and imperfections create diamonds of lower color grades as well as fancy colored diamonds.
The imperfect coloring in the D-Z scale shows as yellow tints, caused by nitrogen impurities. Every other color will fall on the scale of naturally fancy colored diamonds. Boron impurities cause blue colors, structural imperfections cause pink and brown colors and the presence of radiation will cause a diamond to turn green.
When does color become valuable?
The presence of color becomes valuable when it is naturally created and falls beyond the color grade Z. Fancy colored diamonds (excluding black and brown) are more valuable than white diamonds. And its important to note that different fancy colors are worth different amounts. Red diamonds, for example, are incredibly rare and can command astronomical figures. Yellow diamonds on the other hand, while notably more valuable than white diamonds, are not worth anywhere near as much as red diamonds. Another important difference is that fancy colored diamonds have a unique color-grading chart ranging from fancy light to fancy vivid.
Are there ways to change a diamond’s color?
Yes. There are actually several different methods to enhance a diamonds’ color. But these are not as valuable as naturally colored diamonds. As a rule of thumb, when selling your diamonds, any stone that has been tampered with in any way is going to be worth less. To make sure that your stone is natural and untreated, instead of enhanced with chemicals or machines, be sure to have a GIA grading report.