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The 4 C’s – Getting to Know Diamond Colour

Diamond Colour | The 4 C's of diamond education

What is diamond colour?

We’ve discussed diamond cut and diamond clarity at length, now let’s move on to the importance of understanding diamond colour when purchasing diamonds. If you would like to brush up on these topics, click the buttons below:

Unlike diamond cut, diamond colour is influenced by nature alone. Diamonds occur in an array of rare and rich colours due to each stone’s unique chemical composition. Colours start from colourless and move to fancy colours, which include blue, pink, and the rarest diamond colour of all which is red. When talking about the grading of white diamonds which are the most common, chemicals such as nitrogen play a role where the less hue or colour a diamond has, the less nitrogen is present in the stone. Diamond colour is graded from D-Z and chemically pure diamonds that are structurally perfect have no hue whatsoever are graded as D-F. You may also know this colour grade as “colorless” and D-F diamonds are not only extremely rare but as a result of their purity, they are also extremely expensive.

  • The more nitrogen present in a diamond’s carbon crystal structure, the more yellow the diamond will appear.
  • The absence of colour or hue is what determines a diamond’s valuation.
  • Diamond colour can drastically affect the price of the stone.
Diamond colour and diamond clarity | Mark Solomon Jewellers

A Brief Note on Coloured Diamonds

Good quality fancy coloured diamonds are in fact far more expensive than their icy, white counterparts and routinely break world records at auction houses.

Colored diamonds, which come in almost every color of the rainbow, are significantly more rare than diamonds in the D-to-Z color range. Fancy color occurs in only one out of every 10,000 carats of fashioned diamonds, while intense color occurs in just one out of every 25,000 carats. The most popular fancy hues are browns and yellows. The most uncommon colors are red, green, purple, and orange.

Colored diamonds are both unusual and stunning. As a result, they are unlikely to lose popularity. Expect gem connoisseurs and the general public to be enthralled by these incredible rarities.

The History of Diamond Colour Grading

The colour grading of diamonds dates back to the 6th century in India and restrictions existed as to what colour diamond a person could wear based on their status in society. While kings could wear diamonds of any colour, other members of society could only own and wear specific colours. For example, lower classes were restricted to wearing only grey or black diamonds, whereas holy priests could wear white, colourless diamonds. Colur grading of diamonds evolved over time to include scales ranging from “A-Z” or were even classified by Arabic numerals (0,1,2,3), or by descriptive terms that lacked clear definition and were eaily misinterpreted, for example, “blue-white” or “gem blue”.

The GIA

By the 1950’s, it was becoming more and more apparent that was a need for a standardized colour spectrum. Wanting to implement an innovative new colour scale, the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) created the first universal colour system for diamonds. This diamond colour grading system remains the most trusted industry standard used by both gemmologists and the public.

Diamond Colour & Engagment Rings

Here a few notes to remember when buying either a loose diamond to later set into a ring or a diamond engagement ring that has already been crafted:

1) When shopping for diamonds to buy, one component of the buying process that you should not underestimate is the diamond color. Because the price of a diamond varies greatly depending on its coloring, choosing the proper hue for your individual needs might help you save without compromising the look of your dream engagement ring.

2) Unless the diamonds are evaluated side by side in a controlled setting, the great majority of untrained viewers (and many gemologists) cannot identify a color grade from the one just above or below. Changes in color are difficult to notice in I color and higher diamonds, even when compared side by side.

This engagement ring heralds a round brilliant cut diamond (centre diamond: 0.38ct, H colour, VS2 clarity, GIA certificate), with a total of 48 small round brilliant diamonds micro-set in the bands (48 diamonds totalling: 0.27ct, G-H colour, VS-SI clarity).
This engagement ring heralds a round brilliant cut diamond (centre diamond: 0.38ct, H colour, VS2 clarity, GIA certificate), with a total of 48 small round brilliant diamonds micro-set in the bands (48 diamonds totalling: 0.27ct, G-H colour, VS-SI clarity).

3) When a diamond is mounted in a ring and exposed to colorful surroundings, it becomes significantly more difficult to perceive color (as opposed to the all-white background used in colour grading). Under typical lighting settings, an H color diamond may appear as colorless as a D when set in a ring, especially if the two are not compared side by side.

4) Look for G-J diamonds for the best value in what seems to be a colorless diamond to the human eye. Choose G-H in diamonds over 1 carat and I-J in diamonds under 1 carat since colour is easier to notice in bigger diamonds (much as a big carafe of white wine reveals more color than a small glass). These diamonds will seem to be better color grade diamonds when set in a ring. 

5) Diamonds with more facets reflect more light and so disguise color better than diamonds with fewer facets. If color is a factor, choose round, princess, or other modified brilliant cuts over step cuts like emerald or asscher.

6) When it comes to metals, yellow gold and rose gold, for example, may obscure a diamond’s subtle yellow hue better than platinum and white gold. Also, if you are buying a D colour diamond, be wary of setting this colourless stone into a colour precious metal like rose or yellow gold as this would somewhat defeat the point of purchasing a diamond with such a rare and pure colour.

This emerald & baguette diamond dress ring heralds an emerald cut diamond (centre diamond: 1.07ct, G colour, VS2 clarity, GIA certificate) with 12 baguette-cut diamonds extending down the sides of the band (baguette diamonds totalling: 1.64ct, E colour, VS clarity).
This emerald & baguette diamond dress ring heralds an emerald cut diamond (centre diamond: 1.07ct, G colour, VS2 clarity, GIA certificate) with 12 baguette-cut diamonds extending down the sides of the band (baguette diamonds totalling: 1.64ct, E colour, VS clarity).

Mark Solomon Jewellers is renowned as one of Cape Town’s leading Jewellery Designers and Manufacturers of exquisite engagement rings using beautiful South African diamonds. Browse our diamond rings online or contact one of our highly qualified jewellery designers for more information.

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