Color: Shoppers Buying Guide
be found in every color of the rainbow from clear, colorless (white)
to black as coal. Some colors like blue, red, and green are extremely
rare and very valuable. Brown is the most common color of diamond
with about 80% of diamonds used for industrial purposes like drill
bits and saw blades. For most diamond shoppers, their goal is to find
a diamond as white (colorless) as their budget will allow.
suitable for gem use have trace elements of nitrogen that causes some
level of yellow tint. The diamond industry uses a color grading
system developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) that
ranges from D (completely colorless) to Z (fancy yellow color). Each
letter grade corresponds to a small range of color and the color
grade of a diamond is determined by comparing it to a set of master
stones whose color grade has been determined by a grading laboratory
like the GIA.
The top three
color-grades D, E and F are considered Colorless. Color-grades G, H,
I, and J are known as the Near Colorless and color grades K, L and M
are labeled Faint Yellow. It is important to have the color grade
designated by one of the top diamond grading laboratories such as the
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society).
Color grades on other documentation can be exaggerated and not
accurate relative to industry standards.
The bigger the
diamond, the more obvious its color will be, just as a carafe of wine
shows more color than a glassful. Some shapes of diamonds show more
color than others do. Shapes like the princess cut are relatively
bottom heavy and have more diamond material to look through.
Individuals see shades of yellow differently and some shoppers prefer
the warm look of the Near Colorless range rather than the cold,
whiteness of the Colorless grades.
that influences diamond color is fluorescence. About a fourth of
diamonds have a characteristic that when exposed to ultraviolet
light, they glow a color, usually blue. The fluorescence is no longer
visible once the light source is removed. The intensity of the
fluorescence can vary from Faint, which is barely visible to Very
Strong, which is easily visible in a brightly lighted room. A little
blue fluorescence can sometimes make Near Colorless diamonds appear
even whiter than their true color. Some very strong fluorescent
diamonds appear milky or oily in appearance and thus not as clear.
The presence of fluorescence in a diamond generally reduces its value
with higher levels of fluorescence reducing the value the greatest.
There are some
processes, like High Pressure/High Temperature (HPHT) or irradiation,
which can alter the color of a diamond. With certain types of brown
diamonds, the HPHT process can produce Colorless or Near Colorless
color. With HPHT, other types of brown diamonds can be converted to
fancy colors like yellowish-green, greenish-yellow, and even shades
of pink or blue. Irradiation can result in a variety of fancy colors,
even though they are often visibly different shades than natural
Yellow is the
most common and affordable of the colored gem diamonds. There are
four color-grades of yellow diamonds with enough saturation to be
rated Fancy Yellow; Fancy Light Yellow, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Intense
Yellow and Fancy Vivid Yellow. Each deeper shade brings a higher price.
What do these
color grades, fluorescence, and color treatments mean to the diamond
shopper? There are many color grades between the top D color and J,
which is the bottom of the Near Colorless range, with the price of a
D being about double that of J color. Most of the difference in price
is at the lower color grades where there is also the most visible
difference to the eye. The price increase from a J to I can be about
20% while from an E to D is closer to 2%. Diamond shoppers need to
examine diamonds with their own eyes so they can determine what color
they will be happy with relative to the price.
find that for well cut round diamonds, I color provides a nice, white
color and a good value. Fancy shaped diamonds tend not to be as
brightly faceted as the round brilliant cut so H color is an
excellent choice for value and beauty. However, some shoppers will
prefer and can afford higher colors and other shoppers will choose
lower colors based on what they find appealing to their eye and their budget.
with high levels of fluorescence or any kind of color enhancement
unless you specifically want that, have been properly advised, and
are paying the lower corresponding price. Beware of jewelry stores
who stock larger number of diamonds with fluorescence or will not
show you the GIA grading report before you purchase. A merchant who
is hiding these factors from you is certainly not someone you want to
trust with your important diamond purchase.