Diamond Color Grade
Color Grade refers to the physical body color of the diamond crystal rather than to the flashes of light, sparkle, fire, and dispersion used to describe the optical characteristics that make diamond so unique.
Think of it in terms of soft drink bottles: some are completely colorless while others could be brown or green or red etc.
The vast majority of diamonds have some tint of body color, typically some mixture of yellow, brown and/or gray. A very, very small percentage of diamonds have no body color whatsoever…they are totally devoid of color. Many nomenclatures, or systems, have been used to describe and categorize these diamonds.
The best known grading scale was developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and it uses the alphabet letters from D through Z. “D-F” represents diamonds that are actually colorless with the only real differences being relative transparency or the efficiency with which light passes through them. “G-J” represents diamonds that are considered “near colorless” meaning that their body color is very difficult to perceive under most conditions and which appear to be essentially colorless to the untrained eye. The color grades from K-Z become progressively easier and easier to perceive…becoming deeper and darker in color as one goes down the scale.
It is very important to note that the larger a diamond is, the easier it becomes to perceive any hint of body color. Think of it this way: will you be able to see the body color of a “G” color diamond that weighs .50 ct.? Probably not. Or if so, with difficulty. Would you be able to perceive the body color of a 10.00 ct. diamond with a “G” color grade? Almost certainly you would, if you have what is considered to be “normal” color acuity.
Also, diamond color grading is performed under idealized, laboratory-like conditions, with specialized, standardized lighting sources that are completely different than what is encountered in “the real world”. Once a diamond is mounted into a piece of jewelry it becomes much more difficult to accurately assess, or accurately perceive, the body color of the diamond.
The higher (think rarer) the color grade, the higher the value. As the color grade comes down, the value of the diamond comes down as well…but not necessarily less beautiful!
Because colorless diamonds are very rare, that rarity factor has a very significant effect upon value….but not necessarily on BEAUTY! Some people find diamonds that have a body color to be very beautiful…or at the very least, they do not consider it a detracting factor. It is a matter of personal taste. But, rarity is perceived as an important “value factor” and the only way for you to determine what significance you should place on this category is for you to see several diamonds in person so that you can make up your own mind.
Another color grading scale that is commonly encountered was developed by the American Gem Society (AGS). The American Gem Society uses a 0-10 scale that very closely aligns with the GIA nomenclature. An AGS “0” is considered totally colorless or equivalent to “D color” on the GIA scale. An AGS “0.5” would equate to “E” from GIA. An AGS “1” would equate to “F” from GIA. An AGS “1.5” would equate to “G” from GIA and so forth.
NOTE: There are diamonds with a yellow or brown body color where the color is so intense and saturated that it becomes a very beautiful and desirable attribute! These are also quite rare. These diamonds, with very deep, intense, and saturated body colors, are graded using a completely separate descriptive nomenclature from the “D-Z” terms that are used for the vast majority of diamonds.
It is also noteworthy to mention that diamonds, EXTREMELY rarely, occur with body colors such as blue, red, orange and pink! These are so rare that they are an entirely separate subject altogether…and the values collectors place on them can be astronomical. They are also graded using a separate nomenclature or system.