Diamond Color Chart & Buying Guide

If you’re out there looking for the best diamond for your money, then please contact us and let us know your budget and what you’re looking for. We’ll sift through thousands of diamonds online and send you suggested stones to choose from that fit your needs the best.

Bottom Line Recommendation:

As long as you follow our guidelines below, there is no reason to overpay for color. Take a look at this I color diamond from James Allen compared to this G color and this I color diamond from Blue Nile compared to this G color. Once mounted, these diamonds will look identical color-wise. Without sacrificing any visual quality, you are saving about 18% on the diamond.

The trick is to make sure the diamond looks white in relation to the setting. Here is a stunning K color diamond in a yellow gold solitaire setting. Likewise, here is a stunning J color diamond in a rose gold solitaire setting. Normally a J or K color could have a yellowish tint. But since it’s contrasted to something darker (the yellow or rose gold) it appears clear and vibrant. On the other hand, here is a similar K color diamond in a halo setting. As you can see, the result is underwhelming.

In one case, the K color gives you fantastic value (allowing you to get a larger diamond for your budget with no negative impact on the way the ring looks). In the other instance, the result is an undesirable ring that will leave you disappointed. It’s all about finding the line that you shouldn’t cross and toeing it to get the best bang for your buck. If you want to make sure you are navigating the diamond buying minefield properly, feel free to contact us for personal help.

When looking for diamonds to purchase, Diamond Color is an aspect that should not be overlooked. While it’s not necessary to know every detail about Diamond Color, foundational knowledge helps prevent spending too much of your budget in this area, when it may not offer you any additional beauty or value.

Distinctly colored diamonds are prized pieces and are available in colors such as blue, pink and yellow. In white diamonds, however, a yellow tint is generally not as desirable. When slight coloring is present, less natural color of the light is reflected back to the eye. The more colorless a white diamond is, generally the more radiant and valuable it is as well.

Diamond Color Scale Chart

The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is a renowned and well-respected diamond grading entity that issues reports for diamonds.
When you’re in the market for diamonds, it’s advisable to seek a GIA certificate for every diamond you view.

GIA grades Diamond Color on the following scale:

GIA Diamond Color Scale

Colorless

D is the highest color grade, meaning it has nearly no color. Under magnification and to the naked eye, it appears colorless. E and F ratings look almost identical to the naked eye, and only an expert gemologist is able to note the differences between D, E, and F grades.

D-F diamonds are usually set in platinum or white gold, as yellow gold and other jewelry settings detract from the diamond’s uncolored beauty.

Nearly Colorless


G-J color grades exhibit nearly no color and appear primarily colorless to the naked eye. While some tints of color exist, these diamonds should still be set in platinum or white gold to reduce any effects of color reflection from yellow gold.

Less rare than D-F diamonds, G-J diamonds are found at a lower price point. Within this nearly colorless range, price tends to reduce by 10-15% per grade and may make no noticeable difference to the naked eye.

Faint Tint

K-M diamonds show a slight yellow tint even to the naked eye. Some prefer these warmer colors set in a beautiful yellow gold setting.

Because of their slightly perceivable color, diamonds of this range are often found for 50% less than those of the G-J range.

Very Light Tint Due to their noticeable yellow or brown tinting, N-R diamonds are available at a much lower price point.

We do not recommend diamonds of an N-R grade.

Light Tint Diamonds of an S-Z range have easily noticeable yellow or brown tinting. For this reason, We do not recommend S-Z diamonds.

Diamond Color Buying Tips

When looking at a range of diamonds, it’s important to pay close attention to a diamond’s coloring. In addition to the GIA Color Grading, be sure to review the diamond yourself or have an expert assist you. Look for any noticeable tinting and its interaction with both white light and colored light reflection.

Most importantly, ensure the diamond looks white in relation to its setting. Ensure the diamond you’re choosing stands out as the bright, white focal piece of the jewelry. It is, after all, the most important part of the ring.

Based on various types of settings, here are our recommendations for Diamond Color based on Diamond Shape:

White Gold / Platinum Solitaire Ring

Round: H-J If you choose a grade higher than H, you’ll be paying for a feature you won’t be able to notice or appreciate with the naked eye.

Princess, Emerald, Asscher: G-I Grades.

All other Diamond Shapes: F-H Grades.

Yellow Gold Ring

Round: K-M Grades.

The yellow color of the gold is absorbed into the diamond’s color, so any grade higher than a K will look slightly yellowish anyway.

Princess, Emerald, Asscher: J-K Grades.

All other Diamond Shapes: I-J Grades.

Pave or Side-stone Settings

Round, Princess, Emerald and Asscher: G-I Grades.

All Other Diamond Shapes: F-H Grades.

Halo Settings

All Diamond Shapes: F-H Grades.

Understanding the Color Scale of White Diamonds

While some diamond dealers claim Color is the second most important characteristic of a diamond’s beauty and quality, this statement is nothing less than a well-refined sales tactic. We share this important pointer with you so you don’t spend your money in an area that offers no additional beauty or value to you.

To be sure, Diamond Color does play a role in the aesthetics and brilliance of a diamond, but the differences between the Color grading scale are usually small or completely unnoticeable to the naked eye. For example, the color differences between diamonds ranging from the G-J grades are hardly perceivable to anyone outside of experts with magnification tools.

You may have thought it wise to purchase a diamond in the highest possible Color Grade. But with our years of experience looking at thousands of diamonds, we know your money can be better spent in other areas such as a diamond’s Cut Quality.

The Difference Between Adjacent Diamond Color Grades

James Allen says it well in their article about Diamond Color, stating:

“Most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. The difference in price, however, can be significant.”

The better a round diamond’s cut is (for example, a Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond, which is the best there is), the harder it is to discern color.

Let’s take a closer look by examining the two Diamond Color charts below. The same nine diamonds are displayed on the right side and the left side of the chart. On the right, the nine diamonds are face down and arranged in order by Color. On the left, the order has been randomized.

By looking at the pictures on the left, are you able to place them in the correct grading order?

(Answer (on the left side) – First Row: G, L, E. Second Row: F, J, D. Third Row: H, K, I.)

As you may have noticed, it’s difficult for the eye to pick up on any one particular element of a diamond.

What Your Eye Perceives About the 4 C’s of a Diamond

A diamond is an organic whole.

The 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight) combine together to determine the beauty and brilliance of the diamond. For this reason, the naked eye will have a hard time differentiating one aspect such as Color or Clarity.

Like a team working together, the combination of the 4 C’s provide the overall radiance and appeal of a diamond. Your eye does not perceive one aspect individually—it notices the entire collaboration of the 4 C’s.

Rather than focusing on one element such as Color, it’s better to judge a diamond’s beauty as a whole.

Ranking Color Importance by Diamond Shape

In order to assist in the process of comparing diamonds based on their Color, it’s best to review color recommendations by Diamond Shape.

Because of the unique structure of each Shape, Color plays a varying degree of importance in its overall aesthetic appeal. The different facet arrangements can greatly impact how much light is captured inside the diamond (instead of reflecting back to the eye).

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the least important and 10 being the most important), we rate the significance of Color in these Diamond Shapes:

Round: 3
Princess: 5
Emerald & Asscher: 6
Oval, Marquise, Pear, Heart: 7
Radiant, Cushion: 8

What Round Diamond Buyers Need to Remember

As the leading diamond shape in terms of popularity, the Round Brilliant Cut represents over two thirds of the diamonds sold.

When shopping for Round Cut Diamonds, Color plays a small role in the attractiveness of the diamond. For instance, if you show a Round Cut Diamond to nearly anyone (except for diamond sellers and gemologists), an I or even a J colored diamond will appear colorless to them.

And this is in regard to the loose diamonds only. If you’re placing the diamond in a yellow gold setting, you can easily go down a few notches to a K, L, or even an M Color. The diamond will still look bright and uncolored to viewers.

How Different Settings Can Mask a Diamond Color

The type of setting you choose can either mask or enhance the color of a diamond. For example, even white gold or platinum engagement ring settings can mask the diamond’s color somewhat. To see a clear example of this, take a look at Zoara’s Color Tool.

From this example, we can see just how slight the variations are between the Color grades of D and J on a Round Brilliant diamond. Especially for Rounds, but also for other shapes, Color is a primarily relative characteristic.

In other words, an I-colored diamond truly only looks like an I-color when it’s placed next to a higher-colored diamond for comparison. In fact, comparison between two diamonds is how even expert diamond dealers and gemologists grade Color. They place the diamond to be graded on a white folded card next to a master diamond to compare and determine the Color.

Matching Center Diamond Color with Side Stones

Even for diamond experts, it’s difficult to assess a diamond’s Color simply by looking at the diamond in question. Unless your loved one will be carrying around a set of GIA Color Samples to constantly compare to their ring to, then you should worry little about Color.

Color grade does become relevant, though, if you’re purchasing an engagement ring with side diamonds, or perhaps a Three Stone Ring. We recommend that side (or accent) diamonds always either match the Color grade of the center stone, or are slightly darker to accent the higher Color grade of the center stone.

If you’re buying a classic solitaire engagement ring setting with no accent diamonds, use your budget in areas other than Color to avoid spending on a feature that you won’t derive benefit or beauty from.

How Fluorescence Interacts With Diamond Color

One additional aspect to consider is Fluorescence and how it interacts with a diamond’s color. Fluorescence refers to how a diamond responds when subjected to ultraviolet light. UV light is what makes your whites look whiter, your teeth seem bright white, and your black-light posters glow.

Strong or Medium Blue Fluorescence will generally dull the brilliance of a colorless diamond, but will often make a lower Color graded diamond appear whiter. For grades D-F, and even G, it’s best to avoid Strong Fluorescence.

If you’re looking for a stunning diamond at a lower price point, look for a J or a K color with Strong Blue Fluorescence.

Try Out Our Diamond Color Matching Game

At the bottom you’re presented with diamonds from D to K viewed on their side (the way graders grade color) and at the top you have a pool of those 8 diamonds but viewed face-up. Go ahead and try to match them up and see how well you can tell different color grades apart!

Are you considering paying more for a higher color diamond? Let's see if you can even tell the difference between these real diamond images of different colors!

Play Game

Drag and drop to match the colors. Score: 36

Do you have any unanswered questions about diamonds? <Click here> to ask.

Invite your friends to beat your score:

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Conclusion

When searching for the perfect diamond, it’s all about finding the elements that most heavily influence the diamond’s beauty and brilliance.

Once you’ve selected your Diamond Shape and Cut, aspects like Color can be brought into consideration. As we warn in this article, be sure that Color does not take a front seat to your diamond purchasing decision.

If you want to make sure you’re navigating the diamond buying minefield properly, contact us for personal help. We’ll do all of the heavy lifting and bring you only the very best diamonds to choose from.


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