Posted on March 9, 2016 by

Why The 4Cs Don’t Entirely Apply to Colored Diamonds

pink diamond, fancy vivid yellow diamond, orange diamond

The 4Cs of diamonds have all but been drilled relentlessly into everyone’s heads by now. They of course stand for cut, carat, color and clarity, and are the basis on which the cost and rarity of diamonds are evaluated. But what many, if not most, may not realize is that the 4Cs of diamonds apply nearly exclusively to white (or colorless) diamonds and less so to colored diamonds. There is one clear-cut reason why the 4Cs don’t entirely apply to colored diamonds: that’s because it all boils down to color when it comes to colored diamonds.


Why The 4Cs Don’t  Apply to Colored Diamonds



Assortment of loose natural colored diamonds

Color is the most important factor when it comes to colored diamonds. Everything else takes a backseat.

Color is King

Oftentimes, a diamond grading report, or diamond certificate, will not even have information about clarity or cut precisely because color reigns supreme for colored diamonds. While those two Cs do have an influence on the overall value and, thus, price of a colored diamond, it is ultimately color that matters most because colored diamonds on the whole are such a notably rare and improbable group. Not surprisingly, then, the other Cs – cut, clarity and carat – almost become an afterthought. GIA incorporates three elements into its fancy color grading system: hue, saturation and tone. Hue describes the main color of the colored diamond, e.g., yellow, pink, blue.


GIA Colored Diamond Color Circle

GIA has established 27 distinct hues as seen here in GIA’s color circle.


Hue, Tone and Saturation

There are 27 distinct hues in GIA’s hue circle – the hues vary in tone, which is how light or dark the hue of the diamond is. Saturation is the intensity of color in a colored diamond. There are nine distinct intensity levels in GIA’s fancy color grading system: from weakest to strongest, they are Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid. In general, the stronger the color in a colored diamond, the more valuable and rarer the diamond is. Fancy Vivid is the rarest, most valuable and most desired saturation level for colored diamonds. Colored diamonds that are Faint, Very Light and Light will have very weak color and do not have the kind of saturation that colored diamonds that are Fancy Light and beyond tend to have.


Primary (Base) Color

Colored diamonds will frequently have more than one hue (it can have three modifying colors in addition to the primary color), whether it manifests as a ‘split’ primary color, e.g. Fancy Orange-Yellow or as one or more modifying colors (overtones), e.g. Fancy Deep Brownish Orangy Yellow. In any case, the final color named is always the dominant color. For instance, a colored diamond with a color grade of ‘Fancy Brownish Yellow’ is primarily yellow; its yellow color is modified by a slight tinge of brown. Dominance of color in colored diamonds correlates with the order in which the colors of a colored diamond appear – the closer the color is to appearing last in the order, the more dominant that particular color. Generally, a colored diamond is rarest and most valuable when it has just one hue as its color without any modifying colors.



When a colored diamond has been graded for clarity, which will be indicated on the diamond certificate, you will find that most times the clarity grade will be in the SI to I range. These clarity grades are typical of colored diamonds and generally accepted particularly when the colored diamond is rare and valuable. Colored diamonds that are entirely free of imperfections and inclusions are therefore exponentially rarer and much more valuable. Of course, such colored diamonds will command exorbitant prices.


Want your very own natural colored diamond? Browse our collection!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>