In nature, diamonds are found in almost every color and hue you can possibly imagine; grey, white, yellow, red, green and brown. And contrary to popular belief, it is actually very rare to find a diamond that doesn’t have any color at all.
So, what makes a diamond’s color so important when making a purchase? It comes down to the behavior and physics of light when it passes through different mediums.
Colored diamonds (e.g. black, brown, gray) can negatively affect light absorption, and thus the sparkle of the stone that we see. That is why white (colorless) diamonds are generally more valuable and commonly used in jewelry as they have better reflective qualities. Of course, the exceptions to this rule are the rare and much sought after colors of pink, red, blue and orange.
When it comes to grading color, GIA had devised a system of describing diamonds in the normal range with letters from D (colorless) to Z (light brown or yellow). If the depth of color in a stone is stronger than a Z, then the fancy color grading system is utilized instead.
In the grading process, the loose stone is flipped over by a trained observer and comparisons are made against a known set of masterstones. When the stone is viewed and compared with its table facing down, the color differences will be most obvious.
Looking at the diamond in this manner also helps prevent distractions from the internal and surface reflecting facets. Finally, for accurate grading to take place, it is always done in a controlled environment with special lighting to ensure consistency.
Notice that the color near the tip of the cone is more saturated and shows up easily.
When the diamond is flipped around and mounted on a setting, it would be extremely difficult for untrained eyes to pick up subtle differences in color. I will discuss this in detail on later pages and show you how to buy diamonds that face up white without blowing a hole in the bank.
Here’s a trivia question that I get asked a lot. Why does the GIA system start at the alphabet D and not A, B or any other letter for that matter?
You see, before GIA’s grading system was widely accepted by the trade, different jewelers would use “A”, “AA” or other weird nomenclatures to label their diamonds. As you could imagine, consistency was a nightmare and the terms used to depict a diamond were causing huge confusion at that point in time.
Based on what I heard from my GIA instructors, GIA decided to start their grading system with the letter D so that they won’t get associated with other systems already in the market.
So, how should you choose a color for your diamond? Just how important is this factor when making an engagement ring purchase? Are there any preferred colors for specific jewelry applications? I know you probably have more questions in your mind now. Keep on reading to find out more…