A diamond’s color refers to how much or little color is present in a white diamond.
*There are other colors of diamonds besides white. These “fancy” diamonds use a different grading scale. On this page, we’ll refer only to white diamonds.
The less color a white diamond has, the higher its color grade. Colorless diamonds allow more light through the stone, making them more brilliant. They are also rarer than diamonds with some color to them, making colorless diamonds the most valuable.
If not colorless, diamonds have some yellow or brownish tinting to them. In many cases this color is difficult for the human eye to detect—the diamond still looks white—but the color will nonetheless effect the diamond’s value. (Diamond of grades I and above do not show color that is visible to most non-jeweler’s eyes).
Diamond Color Grades
A diamond’s color is typically graded based upon a color scale developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). On this scale, the highest grade is D, representing a truly colorless diamond. The scale progresses to Z. Here are the common grades:
- D, E, F (Colorless)
- G, H, I, J (Near Colorless)
- K, L, M (Faint Yellow)
- N, O, P, Q, R (Very Light Yellow)
- S, T, U, V, W, X (Light Yellow)
Choosing a Diamond Color
Obviously, colorless diamonds are rare and beautiful. Unfortunately, they may not be practical for most diamond buyers. Diamonds with G, H, and I color grades represent an excellent combination of color and value, as these diamonds appear colorless to all but the most trained eye.
Diamonds with color grades of J, K, L, or M may be good buys, especially when placed on a yellow gold setting (if you’re opting for white gold or platinum, stick with near colorless diamonds, as the yellow in lower grades will show more against white metals).