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An introduction to diamonds

Carat Weight



Shapes of diamonds


Next steps, tips

The color of a diamond refers to its degree of "yellowness." The ideal diamond is completely colorless, and is therefore the most expensive. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades color alphabetically from D (totally colorless) to Z (yellow):

D  E  F G  H  I  J K  L  M N-Z
near colorless
increasing yellow

For a diamond to be considered "colorless," the GIA requires it to be D, E, or F. However, the D-Z scale is continuous, so the difference between F and G is very small. The average color for engagement diamonds in the United States is G to H.

Jewelers and consumers have three tools at their disposal to judge the color of a given diamond: (1) a "reference set" of stones, (2) a "colorimeter", and (3) a certificate from a well-known gemstone laboratory such as GIA or AGS.

Reference Set. A jeweler will compare the diamond in question with a set of stones of known color (the set is typically comprised of cubic zirconium!). Then the jeweler will make a qualitative determination as to the color grading of the stone in question. When judging the color of a diamond using a reference set, it is crucial to see the diamond unmounted. Ask the jeweler for a reference set of stones to make the comparisons yourself. To do this, place the diamond in question next to the reference stones face down on a white piece of paper. Compare the color of the stones until you get the best match.

Colorimeter. The second, more precise method, is to use a colorimeter, an electrical device that measures the optical characteristics of the stone and reports the color to within 1/3 of a grade. If available, ask to see the printout from the colorimeter.

GIA or AGS Certificate. The best way to determine the color of a given stone is to simply look at its accompanying certificate. Reputable diamond certification labs such as GIA or AGS go through great lengths to ensure the accuracy of their gradings, employing the latest technology and processes.

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when selecting color is the type of setting you plan to use. If you plan to mount the stone on a platinum or white gold setting, consider a diamond in the D-G range. Yellow gold will be much more forgiving to a less than colorless stone. Regardless of the setting, the diamond will appear yellow if the color grade is lower than around J.

Go back to Clarity Continue to Diamond Shapes
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Other great resources for quality diamond information:

Diamond Review
Diamond Helpers

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