Assuming you are looking for a classical clear diamond, when it comes to a diamond’s colour grading, less is more! A diamond should be as colourless as possible in order to maximise its beauty. However, you do not need to overextend when it comes to the colour grading of a diamond.
A diamond is graded from D (perfectly colourless) all the way to Z (light yellowish tint) under GIA’s diamond colour grading system. While you may be tempted to pony up top dollar for a D grade diamond, often enough, you can get away with choosing a diamond with a slightly lower grade, as it is nigh-indiscernible by the human eye. This heavily depends on the type of metal you will be mounting the diamond on – when mounting a diamond on a gold ring, you can get away with getting a diamond of a lower colour grade, as the colour of the ring would be reflected into the diamond itself anyway, making it no different from a diamond of slightly yellowish colour.
Introduction to Diamond Colours
Diamond Colour is part of the 4C’s of the essential factors in choosing a diamond suitable for you – Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour. While the colour of a diamond affects the quality of a diamond much less than certain other aspects of a diamond, most notably the Cut, you should still not neglect this factor. The colour of a diamond can subtly affect how light is reflected in a diamond – a light shade of colour will lessen the amount of light that is reflected through a diamond, and making it slightly less brilliant and “sparkly” as a diamond with less colour.
While there is a wide range of knowledge when it comes to the colour of a diamond, you need not get too deep into the topic, as it basically boils down to a minute difference in shade on a scale between totally colourless to a light shade of yellow. Do note that in this article we will be purely focusing on clear or “white” diamonds – gemstones with other shades of colour are a whole different field entirely, and have their own grades of quality when it comes to their colour.
The GIA Colour Grading System
The Gemological Institute of America (or GIA for short) is a well-known and the most trusted diamond grading institution in the world. Since they are an independent entity, they are not influenced by external parties, you can rest assured that you are looking at objective facts when using their grading system.
When looking for a diamond, be sure to look at a diamond’s GIA certificate to ensure that you are viewing an accurate representation of a diamond’s colour grading.
In the section below, we will be comparing the differences between the colour grades. Since James Allen has the market’s best diamond viewer, we will be using their diamonds as examples.
Colourless Diamonds (Grade D to F)
A D-Grade diamond is the rarest type, and is totally colourless. These types of diamonds reflect the maximum amount of light and are a wonder to behold. However, diamonds of GIA Colour Grade E and F are also no slouches. To a layman, they appear to be no different to the D grade diamonds to the naked eye, and even under magnification. Only trained gemologists are able to pick apart the nuances and see the minute differences between colourless diamonds of these colour grades.
As a result, unless you have some serious money to burn, you can opt for a GIA Colour Grade E or even F diamond with no worries, as their differences are indiscernible to the naked eye while being less costly. If you want to splurge, it is wiser to spend that extra money on getting a better cut of a diamond, or increasing the carat weight.
Diamonds of GIA Colour Grade D to F are best mounted on jewellery with light-coloured metals, such as platinum or white gold. If mounted on jewellery with strong colours such as gold, they colour of the metal will distract and pollute the pure colourless brilliance and luminosity of a colourless diamond.
Nearly Colourless Diamonds (Grade G to J)
Diamonds of GIA Colour Grade G to J are nearly colourless diamonds. These diamonds appear to be colourless to the untrained eye, and or often very hard to discern from grades D to F to the naked eye unless looked at by a trained gemologist. To truly see the difference between these grades and the fully colourless diamonds above, you have to look at it under magnification at an optimal background and lighting setting.
Since these diamonds are virtually identical to the higher grade diamonds to the naked eye, we highly recommend going for diamonds of GIA Colour Grade G to J when choosing a diamond that gives you the most bang for your buck. To further push this point, once you have mounted a diamond of this colour grade level onto a piece of jewellery, they are virtually indistinguishable to diamonds of the highest colour grades.
As with diamonds of GIA Colour Grade D to F, diamonds of GIA Colour Grade G to J are also best mounted onto light-coloured metals such as platinum or white gold. The light colour of the metal will complement the colourlessness of the diamond, and further bring out the brilliance of the diamond!
Faintly Tinted Diamonds (Grade K to M)
Diamonds of GIA Colour Grade K to M have a slight yellowish colour that can be noticed even with the naked eye to an untrained person. However, this kind of colour is no indication of the quality of the diamond – it can still shine brilliantly with the right cut. In fact, the slight tint may even be desirable, depending on your purposes.
If you are the type to prefer a warmer coloured metal on your jewellery, like gold, diamonds of GIA Colour Grade K to M is right up your alley! They are of much lower cost, and at the same time, will complement the colouring of the metal when mounted on your jewellery. Since clearly coloured diamonds will pick up and “absorb” the colour of the metal it is mounted on due to reflection, a higher colour grade diamond is virtually indiscernible to a diamond of grades K to M mounted on the same type of metal.
Lower Colour Grade Diamonds (Grades N to Z)
Diamonds of GIA Colour Grades N to Z range from very lightly coloured to lightly coloured diamonds. These colour grades of diamonds show a very obvious yellowish or brownish colour, and have too strong of a colour tint to properly reflect light. As a result, diamonds of these colour grades will be duller in colour and lack the brilliance and scintillation compared to diamonds of higher colour grades.
We do not recommend going for any diamonds of these lower levels, as the colour level on these gemstones are too obvious, and at the same time, too heavily affect the sparkle of the diamond. A dull diamond is not worth having!
Size and Mounting
Two very important factors to take into account when choosing the right colour grade for your diamond are the carat size of the diamond, and the mounting that the diamond will inevitably end up on. Be sure to select the right type of colour for your purposes to maximise the beauty of your piece of jewellery, while ensuring that you don’t pay more than you have to!
The carat size of your diamond plays an important factor on how colourless a diamond looks. A larger diamond with a faint tint of colour will have its colour more obvious to the naked eye than a diamond of the same colour grade that is much smaller. This is because of simple physics – a larger diamond will contain more (coloured) material for light to pass through, and as a result, more colour will be trapped in the reflection to your eyes. So if you are opting for a diamond of a larger carat size, you may want to go up a grade or two when it comes to the colour, just so that it shines more brilliantly!
We have mentioned it again and again in this article, but it pays to mention it once more – the colour of the metal on the jewellery that a diamond is mounted on plays an integral part on how the final product will look! If you are mounting your diamond on a lightly-coloured metal like platinum or white gold, you will want to go for less colour on your diamond – from GIA Colour Grades D to J, with grades G to J giving you the best bang of buck while retaining the brilliance of your jewellery. If you are mounting your diamond on a golden piece of jewellery, you can opt for GIA Colour Grades K to M, since the diamond will reflect a part of your jewellery’s colour anyway, giving you more financial leeway to upgrade on the other factors of the 4C’s – Cut, Carat or Clarity!
Still need help?
Our team of diamond experts are always here to help you! If you are still having difficulty deciding on which colour grade is most suitable for your jewellery, feel free to drop us a line, and we will do everything we can to help you out!