Everything You Need To Know About Diamond Color And Colorless Diamonds

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How does diamond color affect a diamond’s quality and ultimately it’s price? Loose diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow but some colors are extremely rare compared to others – A: Those that are completely colorless B: Those that are completely saturated with one primary color (Red Yellow Blue).

Loose diamonds that show a marked color other than clear diamonds or loose diamonds with a yellow tint are referred to as “Fancy Colors”. Therefore when a jeweler refers to diamond color they are usually referring to the degree of absence of color in white diamonds.

Generally speaking a very rare completely colorless diamond is worth more than a loose diamond with a colored tint. Most “clear” diamonds show some degree of yellow tint caused by a small amount of nitrogen that was present when the diamond was formed, although it’s mostly undetectable to the naked eye.

Even so, a colorless diamond, like a clear window, allows more light to pass through which in turn gives more sparkle and fire compared to less transparent diamonds.

Another factor present in a loose diamond’s color is fluorescence which is detectable under ultraviolet light. Up to 35% of gem trade diamonds have some form of fluorescence present in the stone.

A diamond grading report appraises diamond color scientifically. When buying loose diamonds however, you’ll be appraising diamonds aesthetically or according to how it pleases your eye, so try and separate the two.

Everything You Need To Know About Diamond Color And Colorless Diamonds

How Do Gem Trade Laboratories Grade Diamond Color?

By far the most common and highly respected diamond grading reports you’re likely to encounter are issued by GIA – Gemological Institute of America. GIA uses a sliding scale represented by the letters D to Z (see below).

This diamond color grading is achieved under ideal lighting in laboratory conditions using microscopes and loupes, a set of “known color” master-stones and a colorimeter (an electronic device that can “see” a loose diamond’s color).

Loose diamonds are color graded whilst being examined in the table down (pointed end up) position, whereas a loose diamond seen from the table up position will hide some of its color.

Fancy colored diamonds do not follow these rules, they are graded according to their unique color.

How To Judge Diamond Color Grades Wisely?

The diagrams shown below left are intended as reference for judging color differences in diamonds and don’t represent true colors found in real diamonds.

How Does Fluorescence Affect Color?

As with diamond color, fluorescence is also graded by gem trade labs and the result also appears on diamond grading reports issued with certified diamonds.

Fluorescence is present in up to 35% of diamonds and can be seen when a diamond is exposed to strong long wave UV light found in sunlight and other sources like the “glow” lighting commonly found in nightclubs.

Certain very strong or extreme fluorescence will spoil a diamonds optical properties and should be avoided, whereas some kinds of fluorescence may add to the character of a diamond and prove to be desirable. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

Fluorescence Guidelines

Fluorescence can appear as any color but blue is most common and most desirable of the colors. Very light fluorescence (color and intensity) may be seen as desirable in the D to I diamond color range but avoid very strong color and intensity in this color range as it can spoil optical properties and add coloration to colorless stones.

Purists will prefer to have very little fluorescence in a near colorless stone although blue fluorescence is found to have little impact on transparency.

Strong blue fluorescence seen in more yellow colored diamonds range J to M can help cancel out the yellow tint and make a diamond more desirable and more valuable in this color range but it’s all a matter of opinion.

Consumers will often regard light blue fluorescence to be more desirable to other colors but gem trade labs describe the lack of fluorescence as being more desirable.

Don’t worry too much about fluorescence unless it appears highly intense, because its effects won’t be apparent under most lighting situations.

When GIA describes fluorescence on a diamond grading report it’s an abbreviation:

N: No Fluorescence F/FB :Faint/Faint Blue SL: Slight Fluorescence S: Strong Fluorescence EF: Extreme Fluorescence

How Does Diamond Color Affect The Price Gap Between Grades?

Here’s the kicker: Diamond color grade D is regarded as a very rare colorless diamond and will have been valued by a jeweler 30%+ more expensive than color grade H!

When speaking in terms of thousands of dollars the importance of buying a flawless diamond suddenly becomes a little less relevant don’t you think? This is especially true when the difference between diamond color D and diamond color I is negligible to the untrained eye!

And Now For The Condensed Version!

  • Diamonds appear in many different colors. “Fancy colors” describe brightly colored diamonds that are not white or near white.

  • The lack of color in a diamond improves transparency and increases value, although truly colorless diamonds are very rare.

  • The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses a sliding scale to grade a diamond by color. The scale uses the letters D to Z to describe color with D being colorless.

  • Diamond color grades D to L are considered to be almost colorless and diamond color grades L to O will be virtually colorless to the unaided eye.

  • If you’re having gold mountings then yellower diamonds could be the best choice. Near colorless diamonds ought to be set in platinum or white gold.

  • Up to 35% of diamonds have fluorescent properties. Near colorless diamonds are preferred with no fluorescence or very light blue fluorescence only. More yellowish stones with strong bright blue fluorescence may appear as more desirable than yellower stones with no or lower fluorescence.

  • Steer clear of non blue (other color) fluorescence unless you find it appealing – blue fluorescence doesn’t impair transparency. REMEMBER! IT’S ALL A MATTER OF PERSONAL TASTE.

  • The price difference between a color D and a color J diamond can be as much as 100% although the color difference may be negligible!