Diamond Color Scales, Charts and Ratings: All You Need to Know
15 Minute Read
When it comes to diamonds, it is hard to pick the right one. There are different diamonds to choose from. Yes, the whole experience can feel overwhelming. It can get even harder if you are trying to pick one directly from a jewelry store. More often than not, you will find that the choices are very much limited. If you're looking to create a great memory though, you know you cannot miss out on the right one.
So, how do you find the right diamond ring for you? We will help you out!
The Guide to Choose the Right Diamond
First, you need to identify the diamond shape that you or the recipient. You also need to set carat weight based on your preferences.
When it comes to choosing the right diamond for a loved one, wife, mother, sister or dear friend, keep in mind what you want to express with such a gift.
There are certain types of diamonds that are meant to express love, loyalty and balance. In this article you will get all the tips and tricks to understanding diamond color and meanings to help you make the right choice.
A crucial step is to consider the clarity, colour and cut of your diamond.
Why are diamonds colored?
From all the characteristic to consider when choosing a diamond, color is one of the most important. The high-quality diamond is colourless, and those of lower quality have more color, which sometimes can appear as pale yellow diamonds.
When you see a colourd diamond, it can be produced both in nature or a laboratory setting.
Diamonds can be found in almost all the colors from the rainbow. To create a colourless diamond, all the carbon atoms that are required to develop one need to be pure carbon. The slightest quirk is necessary to create a colour diamond quality.
A bit of boron helps create a blue diamond. Nitrogen makes a diamond yellow, and natural radiation from rocks creates a green surface on them.
Colored diamonds contain impurities or some structural defects whiting the chemicals composition.
Some color diamonds are highly prized, such as pinks, blues and yellow diamonds. But when it comes to a white diamond, the presence of even a small yellow tint can lower the price significantly.
With less color in the white diamond, the higher its value.
The Gemological Institute of America or GIA is the one in charge of grading diamond colours on a scale of 'D' to 'Z'. 'D' stands for a colourless diamond and 'Z' to an almost brown diamond.
So, why is colour important for the value of the diamond?
Behind white coloured diamond hides a high level of purity and lack of imperfections. This means that when you see a coloured diamond, blue or yellow, there is some impurity going on. A white diamond translate in more quality and higher prices.
You don't need to know all the details about diamond colour when picking for one, but it is an aspect that it shouldn't be overlooked. If you have a piece of foundational knowledge in the subject, you can prevent overspending on diamonds that are below your desire beauty or value.
When colour is present, less natural colour is reflected in the eye. The more colourless a white diamond is it becomes more radiant, valuable and rare.
A pure white diamond it's hard to find and often very much expensive due to its purity.
It is easier to find diamonds with a soft touch of yellow decorating a gold ring and looking very much like a white diamond. Thanks to the yellow gold bottom, the diamond tends to look whiter to the eye and less expensive too.
When looking for the right diamond, keep in mind that the overall value of it rests on the absence of colour. Also, the colour grade of a diamond should always be determined by a professional in the field.
What's the GIA colour scale, and how does it work?
GIA diamond colour scale for diamonds is what the industry use as a standard to grade diamonds by their colour. This scale begins with the letter 'D' to the 'Z'. 'D' is standard for a white or colourless diamond and 'Z' stands for a yellow or almost brown diamond.
Each letter grade has a defined range of colour appearance inside this diamond grading chart and it must always be determined by a professional.
The GIA diamond colour chart, at the end of the day, it's used to determine not just the colour but the value of every diamond. Inside this diamond chart, you can find colourless diamonds that are sold with very high prices and diamonds almost brown with a very budget-friendly approach.
The experts behind this colour scale system take care about every step of measuring a diamond value, from how to clean a diamond to how to understand its colour, cut and carat weight.
Inside this category of the diamond grading chart, you can find letters 'D', 'E', and 'F'.
This piece of the diamond colour chart includes those diamonds with high levels of purity and lack of any colouring.
As we have said before a colourless diamond means more purity and value to the rock.
That means all the carbons atoms that produced the diamond were pure carbon and not impurities were involved in its creation.
A 'D' grade diamond is colourless. This is the rarest and valuable and less than 1% of diamonds worldwide are graded as colour 'D'.
The price range for white or colourless diamond variates per carat, meaning that 0.25 carat can cost around $300 and $1,750 depending on factors like clarity. 1.00-carat transparent diamond can cost about $4,400 or $7,600. This is the general pricing for a colourless diamond quality in the market depending on its weight and clarity.
These type of diamonds are very hard to find in local stores. One usually have to look for them in very selected jewellery stores and the prices can go even upper depending on your taste and where is the diamond placed. A colourless diamond is known for being an extraordinary and expensive gift, especially when it comes to engagement rings or promises type.
B. Near Colourless
Inside this colour grading chart, we find letters 'G', 'H', 'I' and 'J' listed as near colourless. They contain traces of colour and are suitable for a platinum or white gold setting or base, which would usually betray any hint of colour in a diamond.
'I' and 'J' diamonds are more common than higher grades, and they tend to have high value and prices. An 'I' or 'J' diamond can retail for half the price of a 'D' diamond, for example.
The price tends to increase 10%-20% between diamond grade if you would like to compare them with a 'G' or 'H' diamond.
When you look at a G-J diamond, they can seem colourless to the naked eye very quickly.
Inside this diamond colour scale, it is hard to detect the yellow colour in them. The small differences between a 'G' and an 'H' or a 'J' are harder to spot with a naked eye. Around 15% choose a diamond colour between 'G' and 'J'. The most popular being colour H.
One of these diamonds can cost around $2,000 depending on the clarity, carat weight and colour grade.
As we said before, due to its almost unnoticeable colour, they are lovely and very look for mainly for substitution of a 'D' diamond for a lower price.
This diamond colour grade includes letter 'K', 'L' and 'M'. These diamonds tend to have a faint yellow or a little brown tinge. The colour affects the diamonds sparkle by dulling it.
These diamonds are considered faint yellow depending on the visual hue. The last statement means that these diamonds have a tint of yellow that can be examined in its body.
The tint is not easy to spot, especially when it is set in jewellery such as rings.
This diamond colour grade is prevalent, considering it provides excellent looks, and the diamonds inside are incredibly budget-friendly. With these diamonds, the customer can maximize on other visual aspects such as carat or clarity.
It is recommended that you look for a smaller size when it comes to these diamond colour range. This way, the yellow tint doesn't dull the sparkle of the rock more visually.
In a small rock, it is tough to differentiate colours from others, more valuable, grades.
An 'L' diamond ring can look just as beautiful as a 'J' coloured diamond - the main difference is the price.
In a larger size, the faint yellow shade can distract light and visual sparkle, taking away the beauty of it.
The price range of these type of diamonds are around $1000 and $2000 depending on the carat value and cut.
D. Very Light
Inside this diamond grading scale, we can find letters, 'N', 'O', 'P', 'Q', and 'R'.
You find these diamonds in almost every jewellery store at a very budget-friendly price and excellent finish. These diamonds colour ranges have an easily seen yellow or brown tint but are less expensive. A lot of high-end jewellery store doesn't sell this type of diamonds, but you can still find them in your locally based jewellery store.
The colour in these diamonds can be easily spotted without having to look for the opinion of a professional.
These diamonds are easy to find in local stores and some budget-friendly jewellery stores online. They look gorgeous with a gold band, or a rose gold band.
The creation of this type of colour comes from the place where the diamond was made. If all the atoms used to create it were not pure carbon, you would start to see yellow tints in the diamonds. These diamonds are yellowish with small hues enough to be evident for the naked eye.
The prices for this type of diamonds inside this diamond colour chart come across $500 depending on the carat value. Depending on all the other factors, the cost can go up to $700.
The colours inside this diamond chart go from letter 'S' to letter 'Z'. These diamonds are way too yellow for a lot of customers looking for a better look or a better range of purity. The colour is very noticeable and easy to spot with the naked eye. Some diamonds inside this chart can be as dark as almost brown.
These are easy to find on local stores with more budget-friendly price ranges, but on fancy and elegant stores they are not available.
For others, their yellow colour is beautiful and comfortable to wear with a gold band to make the colour look more natural and more to the white side.
The creation of these types of diamonds comes from impurities around them at the moment. Those impurities are the ones who interfered and started adding yellow or brown-ish colours to the diamond.
This type of diamonds is easy to find and budget-friendly. Once of this diamonds depending on the carat value can go with a price of $300 up to $500.
F. Why does it start with a D?
Before the GIA colour chart existed, there were a variety of other systems that were loosely applied. Once used the alpha as a grading scale starting with 'A' and multiples colours per letter. Other ones, the Arabic used numbers from 0 to 3 and others used the roman numerals with descriptions like "blue-white". All of those systems resulted in a lot of confusion and inconsistency when grading a diamond by its colour.
Because of all that inaccuracy, the creators of the GIA colour scale decided to start fresh and disassociate themselves from all those other systems. That is why this grading scale begins with a 'D'. The 'D' is a letter that is rarely used with quality which makes this grade stands out and be one easy to recognize.
The fluorescence is the glow that you can see when an object emits some light. When it comes to diamonds, some fluoresce when you exposed them to bluish light or yellow, orange light. If you removed the UV light, the diamond would stop fluorescing.
Not all diamonds have fluorescence features. Only around 25% to 35% of diamonds show some degree of this type of function.
Florence can affect the price of the diamonds for better or worse, depending on their colour. When it comes to near colourless to faint diamonds, they can appear whiter under a very strong or medium bluish fluorescence. This action can increase slightly higher the price in comparison with diamonds that do not fluoresce.
The opposite can happen for diamonds with higher colour grades such as 'D' to 'H' colour range diamonds. The bluish fluorescence is considered less desirable by the trade.
GIA doesn't treat fluorescence as a grading factor-like colour clarity, cut or carat weight. Instead, it describes it by its intensity. The intensity can go from none to very strong.
To fully noticed a diamond fluorescence the GIA experts are perfectionist about how to clean a diamond to let it shine and express its natural light.
What about coloured diamonds?
The diamonds world doesn't end with colourless and faint white diamonds. There is a wide variety of them with different properties and price ranges.
There are very yellow diamonds that are created when it's saturated with nitrogen. Yellow diamonds can go from pale lemon tints to very vibrant canary shades. A yellow diamond-like these are stunning and high price. These diamonds are even rarer than the whitest 'D' colour diamond.
You can also find beautiful brown diamonds with vibrant shades of cognac, chocolate and cinnamon. The colour is formed from high pressure and temperature deep below the ground. These diamonds are always linked romantically to stability and reassurance.
One of the rarest and most expensive diamonds are the ones with a beautiful pink tone. It is a very feminine, romantic option robust to find in nature. They have been found in Western Australia and Brazil.
You can also find blue diamonds, very rare as well. These are a symbol of peace and freedom. They are made thanks to when the presence of boron in the carbon lattice of a diamond allows electricity through itself — the result is a beautiful blue colour.
Grey diamonds are a very excellent option too. They also form thanks to the presence of boron in their making, like blue diamonds. Some grey diamonds can have a bit of blue in the centre, making them more outstanding and rare. These diamonds represent wisdom and security.
Green diamonds are created when harmless radiation is absorbed into a diamond over millions of years. This is very specific and rare, and it makes them very highly prized — around $7000 depending on the carat weight and cut.
This beautiful green is associated with balance, and it's gifted when you want to express harmony and new beginnings.
One of the most intense diamonds are the ones with amber and citrus shades and pure orange colours. These diamonds are among the rarest in the world. The colour is born because of the massive amount of nitrogen inside of them.
What other types of diamonds are there?
When dividing diamonds into different types and systems, it can be a little confusing. Their physical and chemical properties separate them.
Inside the consumer wise type of diamonds, we go from natural diamonds and fancy coloured ones.
The natural diamonds are the colourless white ones, made of 100% carbon atoms.
After that, we have treated diamonds, which are mined like natural diamonds, but they have artificially enhanced or manipulated attributes.
You can also find diamonds listed as human-made diamonds. These are also called lab-grown diamonds are somewhat of a trend that is developing more and more over the years.
The natural fancy colour diamonds are the last in its category but the ideal type of diamonds. Inside this category, we can fiend the rarest and most expensive diamonds on earth, such as pink diamonds and canary yellow diamonds.
Diamonds are also separated for their technical explanation. The unusual fact inside this classification system is that one diamond can be part of multiples categories.
First, we have type la diamonds. These type of diamonds have a yellowish tone thanks to the nitrogen inside of it. The diamonds inside this category can be broken into more subcategories such as 'laA' and 'laB'.
Type 'lla' diamonds have differing fluorescence and no visible absorption, no impurities that can cause a yellow tint. These diamonds are formed under high pressure for more extended periods. They also tend to have an irregular shape.
The diamonds inside the type 'lb' category are not as common as the ones before. They represent less than 0.1 percent of natural diamonds. Here you can find blue, yellow, orange or brown diamonds. A perfect example of this is the authentic canary diamonds.
At last but equally appreciated and essential is the type 'llb' diamonds. These diamonds content boron and these elements make them electrically conductive, and it gives them a blue or grey tint.
General tips when buying diamonds
When buying diamonds, there are a series of tips you should follow if you want to make the right decision for you and your loved one.
-Take a close look at the colour of your diamond if you want a colourless white diamond or a 'G' to 'H' type of diamond. Remember that if you're going to go the extra mile, you can go for natural coloured diamonds, such as pink or blue. The colour of the diamonds always represent something, and it would be excellent if you note that before buying.
- You also need to study the size of the diamond you want. It's mainly because this is one of the points that affect the price more than others.
- The type of your diamonds should be essential when trying to pick the best one possible. You can study the origin of your diamond just by knowing its nature.
- Your budget. You should always opt for the most beautiful diamond inside your price range to make a smart decision economically.
- Take into consideration the taste of the person who will be wearing the diamond. Think about that, and you will know which one is the perfect choice.
Now, you don't need to worry about getting the right diamond ring for you. You know just what to look for!
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