Diamond Color – The 4Cs of Diamonds

The 4Cs of Diamonds

Diamond color is actually all about what you don not see. Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach color-lessness – the less color, the higher their diamond value. The exception to this is fancy-color diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this color range.

Most stones found in jewelry stores run from colorless to near-colorless, with slight hints of yellow or brown color.

GIA’s diamond color-grading scale  is the industry standard. The diamond scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or light yellow or brown. Each letter grade has a clearly defined range of color appearance. Diamonds are color-graded by comparing them to other stones of known color under controlled lighting and very precise viewing conditions.

Many of these color diamond distinctions are so subtle they are almost invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences in diamond  color make a very big difference in the diamond quality and price.

Why does the GIA color grading system start at “D”?

Before GIA developed the D-Z Diamond  Color Grading Scale, a variety of other systems were loosely applied. These included letters of the alphabet (A, B and C, with multiple A’s for the best stones), Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numerals, and descriptions such as “gem blue” or “blue white.” The result of all these grading systems for diamonds was inconsistency and inaccuracy. Because the creators of the GIA Diamond Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems, they chose to start with the letter D—a letter grade normally not associated with top quality.