Understanding Diamond Color with Stewart Kuper Jewelers

February 1, 2020
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Welcome back to another informative entry on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog. This year we are kicking it off by going back to the basics, discussing the Four C’s of diamonds to give our readers and customers the knowledge they crave to make confident decisions. Last time we talked about Clarity, what it means, the scale, and how it affects the overall appearance of the stone. This time we’re looking at diamond color, another key C, and this one is huge!

Diamond Color

While diamonds come in a variety of colors (including prized yellow, pink, even blue diamonds!) the diamonds we are most commonly focused on are ‘white diamonds.’ When gemologists look at these stones, they are grading specifically based on their lack of color, meaning confusingly, that diamond color is looking for the lack of color in the stone.  No Color = Good.

A diamond that is structurally perfect will have no tint of color, instead being as clear as water. Like the grading of clarity, many times these diamonds have such minute differences in hue that comparing two next to each other on the scale it is impossible to see the difference, to the untrained eye. Look at either end of the spectrum however and you’ll see the difference!

Diamond Color Grading Scale

The GIA uses a scale of D – Z but these can be grouped into a few larger groups.

Colorless (D, E, and F)

D, E, and F diamonds have slight variations but these are only visible to a trained eye such as a gemologist. These are the most valuable diamonds. Because of their colorless appearance, you wouldn’t want to set them in a yellow gold ring/setting, as the reflecting color would ruin the colorless appearance. Stick to white gold or platinum for these.

Near Colorless (G, H, I, and J)

G-J diamonds are near colorless. Seen on their own they may appear perfectly clear, but in comparison to other stones you’ll see the traces of color, the stones will look just a shade darker. 

Despite those traces, G-J diamonds can still safely be set in a white gold or platinum ring without fear of revealing the color. The price range on these diamonds typically increases 10 to 20% between each grade, i.e. if G is 100%, H might be 90%, and so on. This is notable, because I and J diamonds are much more common than diamonds of a higher grade, making them a solid value.

Faint Color (K, L, and M)

At this stage is when the yellow tint creeps into the diamond color and is more easily noticeable to the naked, untrained eye.

To offset that, these diamonds can be set in yellow gold to create a warm appeal, though some may find it has too much color. Compare diamonds of the K and G grades and you’ll clearly see the color, often making the K grade around half the price of the G grade diamond.

Very Light Color (N-R)

Magnification is not needed to see the color. Diamonds in the N-R range have easily noticeable yellow and brown tints. These tend not to be too popular as you can imagine, and their price reflects it.

Light Color (S-Z)

Clearly visible color. For just about every customer this amount of brown/yellow is too much. Like the Very Light Color diamonds, these aren’t really sought after.

Now with color taken care of, we are half way through our Four C’s discussion! Come back next time as we discuss Cut and then Carat!

Ready to start shopping? Give us a call today and schedule your personal appointment with Stewart Kuper to browse through diamonds of wonderful clarity and color. We are here to help!