Posted on December 11, 2013 by

What Color is a Diamond?

The mere mention of diamonds is enough to send even the most level-headed among us into a tizzy. Their mesmerizing brilliance and luster have an irrational hold on our eyes. Yet when we think of diamonds, what colors come to mind instantly? The no-brainer answer is white, or colorless. However, diamonds exist in practically all hues of the rainbow – pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown (champagne), and even black, grey and chameleon. Among these main colors, secondary color modifiers, and occasionally secondary base colors, are frequently present to transform the dominant color, resulting in the creation of a unique hybrid.


Colored diamonds come in a varied assortment of colors.


The most desirable and valuable colorless diamonds are those that hew closest to the colorless range (D-E-F). Diamonds that fall in the K to Z range show increasingly more color, manifested as gradations of pale yellow, the further a colorless diamond’s grade advances in the color grade range. The most desirable and valuable colored diamonds are highly graded pinks and yellows, along with the even rarer colors of blue, green, orange and red. Colored diamonds owe their color to chemical impurities – not imperfections – or structural abnormalities.


Colorless diamonds are graded on a letter scale originally formulated by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) ranging from D to Z. D, indicating a total absence of color, marks the highest color grade a colorless diamond can achieve, while at the other end of the spectrum, Z-graded diamonds exhibit a light yellow hue. The less color a colorless diamond has, the more valuable it is. Therefore, D-color colorless diamonds are the rarest and most valuable of all colorless diamonds.


The D to Z letter scale for grading color in colorless diamonds originally formulated by the GIA


Fancy colored diamonds are an entirely distinct group that exists and is graded independently of colorless diamonds. Fancy colored diamonds are any yellow or brown diamonds whose color is stronger than a Z-graded diamond or those diamonds containing color apart from yellow or brown. Unlike colorless diamonds, fancy colored diamonds are graded on an intensity scale that proceeds in the following ascending order: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Deep, Fancy Dark, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid with Fancy Vivid and Fancy Intense respectively taking the top two spots for highest color grades. The greater a colored diamond’s intensity, the higher its value and rarity climbs. For fancy colored diamonds, the intensity and rarity of the color determine overall value. A Fancy Vivid Pink is therefore rarer and more valuable than a Fancy Brownish Yellow.


In the diamond universe, virtually all colors exist to suit our uniquely individual tastes. Being able to find a diamond in our favorite color all depends on how rare – and hence relatively affordable – our diamond colors of choice are.


To learn more about diamond colors in depth, visit our education section.


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