A perfect and chemically pure diamond will have no color or hue, just like water in its purest form. However, such diamonds are extremely rare. Diamonds also exist in almost any naturally occurring color, such as white, yellow, brown, green, and pink.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a scale for grading diamond color. The scale runs from D (colorless) through Z (light color). Before this more straightforward scaling system, there was the use of a scale that ran from A to C, 0,1,2, and 3, I, II and III, etc. These color grading systems were unclear and prone to misinterpretations prompting the GIA color scale to begin from D in order to avoid any confusing association with any of these earlier systems.
All the GIA-graded D-Z diamonds are considered a white diamond, even though they contain varying degrees of color. Diamonds with natural hues other than the normal color range are called fancy-color diamonds. On the international market, the fancy-color diamonds are either yellow or brown diamonds that have more color than a Z master stone. True fancy-colored diamonds (such as yellows, pinks, and blues) have a different color scale used in grading them.
Detecting the differences between one white diamond from another on the color scale will usually require a skilled eye. For example, the differences in color between D, E, and F diamonds may not be detected by an untrained eye, and they can only be detected by a gemologist in side by side comparisons.
A nice trick for selecting the perfect diamonds, D-F diamonds should only be set in white gold/platinum. Yellow gold reflects color, and this will counter the desirable colorless effect of the diamond.
Factors That May Affect Diamond Color
Colors in the Environment
Diamond color becomes more difficult to detect when the diamond is set in a ring and placed in a setting that contains color (as against an all-white background used in a typical diamond color grading setting). An “H” colored diamond may look as colorless as a “D” color when set in a ring under normal lighting conditions. However, when compared side by side by a skilled gemologist, the difference is identified.
Color of Mounting
Slight amounts of yellow in a diamond will become less obvious when mounted on yellow gold, but a white gold or platinum mounting will make the slight color in yellow diamonds more noticeable.
The significance of diamond color increases as carat weight increases. This is because the diamond color is easier to detect in a larger white diamond.
In shopping for a diamond with the best value, look for what would appear as a colorless diamond to the ordinary eye. G-J diamonds would be the best grades to choose from. The larger a diamond stone is, the easier it is to detect color in them. Diamonds over 1 carat are better selected from the G-H color grade and I-J grade for diamonds below the 1-carat range. Once the diamond stone is set in a ring, these diamonds will not look any different from their higher color grade counterparts.
When choosing the perfect diamond for a loved one, its color and cut should be considered as they both go hand in hand to give great value for money. A finely cut diamond such as round and princess cuts will reflect more light and as such, hide color than other steep cuts such as emerald and Asscher.