The color of a diamond or lack thereof is another factor to consider when making a selection. While it is often difficult to make subtle distinctions in color with the naked eye, these different grades have a significant impact on value and quality. The less body color a diamond has the more desirable and rare it becomes.

Grading the Color of a Diamond

The size of a diamond will have an impact on the perception of color in the diamond because it is more difficult to see color in diamonds that are less than half-carat. The way that the diamond is mounted and the metal type will also have an impact on the perceived color. Colorless diamonds really come to life in white gold and platinum settings. Lower color grades are typically showcased best in a warm metal color such as yellow gold or rose gold.

The standard grading systems for color were developed by the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA grading system is based on a scale of D (colorless) to Z (light color).

Colorless (D-F)

These color grades are the most desirable because of their lack of color. Certified gemologists can detect the subtle differences between D, E, and F by evaluating the diamond through the back while it is unmounted, giving the clearest impression of its actual body color. A colorless diamond is truly a stunning sight to behold, and sure to make any piece look extraordinary.

Near Colorless (G-J)

Diamonds that fall into the near colorless category contain small traces of color, but the color is still somewhat difficult to detect to the naked eye. Still considered above average, diamonds in this range are often found as accent diamonds in finished jewelry and as center diamonds in rings.

Faint Color (K-M)

When reaching the K color grade it becomes easier to detect color with the naked eye. These diamonds will have a more noticeable warm tint than diamonds in higher grades.

Very Light Color (N-R)

Diamonds that carry a grade between N and R contain visible color with a yellow or brown tint that can be easily seen. These lower grades are not to be mistaken with fancy yellow color.

Light Color (S-Z)

With a grade between S and Z, these diamonds have an obviously visible color.

Fancy Colored Diamonds

Fancy Colored diamonds are graded on a completely different scale. At a certain color level, diamonds become desirable for yellow to shine through. There is a distinct difference visually between a “yellow” diamond in the S-Z range and a yellow diamond that is considered a “Fancy” color. GIA has developed a specific set of parameters to help gemologists determine one from the other.

Download our GIA Color Scale