Color refers to the presence of yellow tints within a diamond. It is the second most important factor in the beauty of a diamond, after cut. The range of a diamond’s color can vary from colorless through a yellowish or brownish color.
Nature causes variations in a diamond’s color. It begins when carbon molecules bond together underground in a tight crystal structure over billions of years. During this long formation process, nitrogen atoms naturally seep into the crystal structure, replacing the carbon atoms to tint the rough diamond yellow. As more nitrogen atoms bond to the crystal structure, the diamond takes on a more yellow appearance.
COLOR SCALE AND GRADES
Diamonds are rated on a color scale developed by the GIA, the world’s premier diamond grading nonprofit. The color grading system is based on the alphabet, beginning with the letter D and running all the way through Z. A grade of D is the best possible grade a diamond can receive, which translates to an absence of color. Diamonds with this grade tend to be the most rare and valuable.
Diamonds with an attractive yellow color—called fancy yellow diamonds—have their own color grading system.
Often a diamond with a higher color grade will appear whiter, clearer and crisper to the naked eye. As the color scale gets deeper into the alphabet, the yellowness of a diamond becomes more visible. A diamond color classification scale with five categories helps determine where in the range the color falls. D, E, and F are in the colorless range. G, H, I and J are called near colorless. The rest of the spectrum falls under faint yellow, very light yellow and light yellow, until Z is reached.
At Kwiat, we adhere to the strictest standards and only select diamonds in the colorless or nearly colorless range. Our round brilliant diamonds grades range from D through J color while our fancy shape diamonds are in the D through I range.
SELECTING THE COLOR OF A DIAMOND
Diamond color is graded with the diamonds face down against a white background under a daylight fluorescent lamp. They are matched against a set of “master stones” of established color to determine what grade they should receive. That being said, diamonds are worn face up, where the brilliance of the cut and white light reflection will mask some of the color. The stone is also mounted in a metal setting, which is typically platinum at Kwiat. The white color of the platinum serves to enhance the whiteness of the diamond. Typical sunlight or indoor light is far less harsh than the whiteness of the grading lamp, making color even more difficult to distinguish.
Try not to focus too much on one specific color grade at the expense of the next color grade on the chart. The difference from one color grade to the next is very subtle and often indistinguishable to the untrained eye. For example: D and E may look similar to each other, as would G and H. Even when comparing diamonds that are two color grades apart, such as E and G, it is often hard to discern the differences.
COLOR GRADE TRADE-OFFS
Selecting a diamond with a D or even an E grade in color can mean adjusting your carat, clarity or cut requirements.
SHAPES AND COLORS
A diamond’s shape influences the appearance of its color. The brilliance of the round stone’s faceting pattern masks color better than any other shape and can make it quite difficult for the eye to distinguish until the KL range is reached. Other brilliant shapes such as radiant, oval, and cushion may start to show yellow tints at higher grades, such as the IJ range. Then there are stones with a step faceting pattern, such as the emerald and Asscher cuts, where a higher color grade is recommended to give the stone a little more brightness.
Every diamond is unique. Ultimately the best way to visualize the yellow tint when comparing two diamonds is to view it in person.