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How Diamonds are Graded on Color

While all diamonds are sparkly and beautiful (gemstone diamonds anyway), they are not all created equal. That’s why the GIA established the four C’s of grading diamonds: cut, carat, clarity, and color. When you invest in a certified diamond, it’s accompanied by a grading report that gives you specific details about its four C’s. While things like carat (the total weight of the diamond) and cut are easier to decipher, you may be confused as to what the color means — especially when it comes to white diamonds. In this blog, we’ll explain all about how diamonds are graded based on color to help you better understand this aspect of the diamond grading process. This is true for both lab-grown diamonds and Earth-formed diamonds, as they are graded in the exact same way.

White Diamond Color Grading

To the untrained eye, it is probably very difficult to see fluctuations in white diamond colors. And, the color grading system is based on the absence of color because a perfect diamond has no hue — it is colorless, like a drop of water. Therefore, diamond color mostly matters because of the less color in the stone, the higher the quality and the price of the diamond. The most common hues found in white diamonds are yellowish and brown, due to chemical reactions that occur in the creation process. The color scale for grading white lab-grown diamonds (and mined diamonds) ranges from D-Z, with D representing the perfect, colorless diamonds. As you get closer to Z, you see greater saturation of yellow or brown in the diamond. Wondering why the scale starts at D? From the GIA website:


Before GIA universalized the D-to-Z Color Grading Scale, a variety of other systems were used loosely, from A, B, and C (used without clear definition), to Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numbers, to descriptive terms like “gem blue” or “blue-white,” which are notorious for misinterpretation. So, the creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems. Thus, the GIA scale starts at the letter D. Very few people still cling to other grading systems, and no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

Colored Diamond Grading

Whereas white diamonds with no color are the most valuable, the opposite is true when it comes to colored diamonds: colored diamonds are graded based on the presence of color whereas white diamonds are based on the absence of color! Indeed, the value of a colored diamond depends on how deep the color is and is determined by hue (the color), saturation (how strong or weak the color is), and tone (the relative lightness or darkness of the color). These diamonds are graded on the Fancy scale, which includes Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep, Fancy Vivid or Fancy Dark. To learn more, you can compare colored diamond grading charts on the GIA website. Again, this is true for lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds alike.

Now that you know all about color grading, you’ll feel confident when checking out the specs of all our beautiful lab-grown diamonds. If you have any questions about diamond colors, feel free to reach out.

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