The color of a diamond is one of the main properties that define its beauty and market value. Despite popular belief, not all diamonds are completely white. Depending on the color and intensity of the color, a diamond can vary greatly in price.
If you wish to purchase a well-planned diamond it is important to understand how the diamond color scale works and which color categories are most suitable to maximize your budget.
Natural diamonds can be found in many colors ranging from white (the purest) to yellows, browns, pinks, reds, oranges and even deep greens. The normal color scale allows white diamonds to be graded in a range from pristine white (the best) to yellow/light brown.
While it is true that all-white diamonds are considered the highest standard, other shades such as blue or the extremely rare red diamond can be even more expensive than a pure diamond.
In a more technical sense, pure diamonds (which are very difficult to obtain) are composed exclusively of crystallized carbon. When atoms of other elements "infiltrate" the chemical structure of the diamond at the time of formation, the result is a noticeable anomaly in color.
Because the chances of no impurities being present when a diamond is formed are so slim, all-white diamonds are so highly prized by collectors. This means that the higher the color scale, the higher the price a diamond usually fetches.
The standard in the jewelry industry is dominated by the Gemological Institute Of America (GIA) color scale. This color scale allows white diamonds to be graded according to their level of structural purity (color) and starts from D to Z. In terms of quality control, rarely is a diamond with grades lower than L/M considered a white diamond.
Color affects the brilliance of the diamond, although the difference between some scales is imperceptible to the naked eye. It is important to keep in mind that when it comes to budget, the certification of a diamond interferes with the price, whether or not you can tell.
Something that often causes a lot of expectation and doubt in customers is why the GIA diamond color scale starts with the letter D when by common sense it is much more intuitive to start at A. This was in fact the case. Early attempts to grade diamonds prior to the system proposed by the GIA used scales ranging from 1 (a, I, first, A...) onwards.
In the absence of a standard, the variation and inaccuracy in describing the color of a diamond, the institute decided to start directly at D onwards to distinguish itself from the old standards. Besides, it is the initial of the stone in question, what more could one ask for?
To more accurately recognize the color of a diamond on the normal (white) scale, the GIA establishes a comparative. When a diamond is placed next to another it is much easier to perceive its true color and this will determine its position on the scale.
Because of this, some diamonds on lower scales appear to the naked eye to be as white as any other diamond, until contrasted with another diamond.
Colorless diamonds are completely transparent and are called premium stones within the scale. Their quality is considered from D.
Near colorless diamonds are undetectable to the naked eye. The difference begins to show only in contrast to other gemstones and rarely in white metals.
Slightly tinted diamonds have a noticeable yellow hue, in principle only slightly if viewed from several angles and detailed very well.
Slightly yellow diamonds start to stand out at this point. Just enough to not pass as white diamonds. Brightness may be affected considerably as the scale decreases.
Light yellow diamonds are immediately recognizable. They usually start from Q and up, all the way to Z. Diamonds graded lower than Z are considered fancy yellow diamonds and are graded separately.
When it comes to buying, the color of the diamond is the second most important characteristic to consider, after the cut. When it comes to the normal scale of colorless or white diamonds the budget will be critical.
A colorless diamond will be colorless to the naked eye unless it is subjected to a detailed test in contrasts with other diamonds. Significant savings can be made, especially if the budget is tight and a good sized stone is desired.
The difference between a G and a higher clarity diamond such as E, F or D is difficult to notice with the naked eye and the difference in price exceeds 20 to 30%. The premium colorless grades are more attractive to investors and collectors who aspire to maximum purity and perfection.
Certain factors can modify the color appearance of a diamond, similar to clarity, brilliance or apparent size. It is important to control these aspects as they will allow you to get the most out of a budget without affecting the aesthetics of a piece of jewelry.
Larger diamonds tend to show much more color and vice versa. This is particularly useful since, in a budget constrained environment, a smaller stone will allow you to opt for an I/J grade color that may go unnoticed.
For stones above one carat, as with clarity, a substantial investment in color may be necessary if you are looking for flawless colorless brilliance.
Fancy diamond cuts can hide the color of a smaller scale diamond quite well, unlike a round cut. Radiant and cushion cuts can help expose traces of color just as well. A fancy cut is usually more affordable than the well-known brilliant cuts.
As we have mentioned in previous sections, the color of a diamond stands out when contrasted with others of a better level of chemical purity. A similar effect occurs with metal. Yellow and rose gold help to disguise a diamond's coloring.
White gold and platinum, on the other hand, expose more of the stone's coloration. If it is a colorless diamond of high quality such as D or E, its white color seems to look more intense, similar to ice.
Colored diamonds obey other grading rules. Knowing that a naturally mined colored diamond is extremely rare to see, depending on the color and intensity of the color, they can easily surpass a completely pure diamond on the white scale.
To give you an idea, a deep red cut diamond of 0.70 carats can easily fetch $600,000 or more. An ideal quality pure diamond (FL D) of 1 carat is around $18,000.
Although these prices can vary over time, it is a graphic idea of how disparate the value of a diamond can seem depending on its rarity.