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Diamond Color Guide

Most people think all diamonds are colorless. In fact, diamonds come in every color of the rainbow. The diamond industry distinguishes between fancy colored diamonds and diamonds in the normal color range. Fancy colored diamonds make up a small but exotic part of the diamond industry. These diamonds include red, blue, green and pink, as well as the stronger yellows. They also come in combinations such as orange/yellow or gray/blue. Red and green are the rarest fancy colors. These stones are expensive and quite rare. A fancy red one-carat stone can run up to $1,000,000, depending upon the beauty of the stone.

Diamond Color Comparison Chart

Diamond Color Chart

With the exception of these rare colors, colorless diamonds command the highest prices. The diamond is the only gem in which the less color it possesses the higher its value. This is due to the rarity of colorless (white) diamonds. A totally colorless diamond allows light to pass through and be transformed into a magnificent rainbow of colors also known as fire. Diamonds in the normal color range are graded by how closely they achieve absolute colorlessness. Most diamonds usually have a slight trace of yellow, brown or gray. In the late 1950s the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed a system using an alphabetical letter to indicate the depth of color in a diamond. The GIA assigned D the best color. Colors range from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow).

Diamond Color Chart

But there is much more to understanding Color than this "simple" story. There are complexities and pitfalls that you need to be aware of and avoid when buying a diamond. Watch these two videos. The video on the left, Diamond Color - Part One is the simple story. The video on the right, Diamond Color - Part Two describes the complexities and pitfalls that should lead you to the understanding that you need expert advice when evaluating all the characteristics of a diamond's color, even though you might think that it is just a simple objective characteristic of a diamond.

Diamond Color Part One - The Simple Story

Diamond Color Part Two - The Complexities


 Diamond Colors


Absolutely colorless. The highest color grade, which is extremely rare.


Colorless. Only minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.


Colorless. Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a "colorless" grade. A high-quality diamond.


Near-colorless. Color noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but these grades offer excellent value.


Near-colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.


Noticeable color.  A. Fishman & Son does not usually carry these colors. We may have 1 or 2 from time to time.


Noticeable color. Not carried by A. Fishman & Son


Color Grading Procedure

Diamond color is graded by comparing a sample stone to a masterstone set of diamonds. Each masterstone is known to exhibit the very least amount of body color that a diamond in that color grade may exhibit. A trained diamond grader compares a diamond of unknown grade against the series of masterstones, assessing where in the range of color the diamond resides. This process occurs in a lighting box, fitted with daylight equivalent lamps, which are UV filtered. Accurate color grading can only be performed with a diamond which is unset, as the comparison with masterstones is done with the diamond placed on its table facet and the pavilion side facing upwards. By purchasing only a GIA graded diamond, you are assured that you are getting the most accurately graded diamond, one which was graded loose and not mounted. If you see a grading report with a range of color grade (such as G-H) you can be sure that it is not a GIA grade diamond.

Selecting a Color Grade

Color is an important factor to consider when choosing a diamond, as it is noticeable to the unaided eye. Below are some points to keep in mind when selecting a color grade:

  • Those who prefer a colorless diamond should select a stone in the D-F range with a fluorescence rating of "None" or "Faint".
  • Near colorless diamonds with a rating between G and J are excellent values, as their color is typically undetectable to the unaided eye. If you are considering a diamond in this color range, A. Fishman & Son can review the stone to ensure the color cannot be seen with the naked eye.
  • A near colorless diamond can appear whiter when set in platinum or white gold metals. Yellow gold settings complement diamonds with lower color ratings.
  • The presence of fluorescence can enhance the visual appeal of a diamond with a lower-color rating in the J through M range. The fluorescence helps to cancel out any faint yellow in the stone, resulting in a colorless appearance.
  • A common misconception is that only colorless diamonds exude brilliance. In reality, a well-cut diamond can emit fire and beauty even with traces of faint yellow, although the presence of color will decrease the stone's value. Another misconception, one commonly touted by on line retailers, is that all colorless diamonds exude maximum brilliance. The fact is that brilliance is determined by the cut of a diamond and not its color grade. A well cut near colorless diamond will be a prettier and more brilliant cut diamond, and more desirable, than a poorly cut colorless diamond.

A Note About Fluorescence

Fluorescence is not directly related to a diamond's color. This separate characteristic refers to the diamond's ability to fluoresce under ultraviolet (UV) light. Our sun emits some UV light, but it is usually not great enough to detect fluorescence. When exposed to UV light, many diamonds will give off a distinctive glowing blue coloration. Although fluorescence may be displayed in various colors, blue is the most common in diamonds. The fluorescence of a diamond is defined by its intensity as either None, Faint, Medium, Strong, or Very Strong.

The impact of fluorescence on price depends on its noticeability. Faint fluorescence has very little effect on a diamond of any color, and therefore has no effect on value. For some higher color stones (D-G), strong fluorescence may give the stone a milky white appearance, which greatly lowers value. Fluorescence often adds value to lower color stones, such as J-K and lower, as it can give the stones a whiter, brighter appearance.

While some internet diamond retailers will try to tell you that a diamond with significant fluorescence is not a factor in its value or desirability, diamonds with a strong or very strong fluorescence are NOT a better value for you. A Fishman & Son will always recommend that you NOT purchase a diamond with strong or very strong fluorescence.