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The 4 C’s: Color

Understanding the 4 C’s will help you find the perfect diamond for your partner

Diamond Color

Diamond Color

Strange as it may seem, this characteristic refers to the lack of color in a diamond. The less color it has, the more pure brilliance it will have.

It’s interesting to note that diamonds are actually available in every color of the rainbow. However, colorless or white diamonds are traditionally the most valuable. Jewelers recommend choosing a stone with the least amount of color possible if you’re looking to stick to tradition. Those that aren’t opposed to color need not worry. You can absolutely choose a colored diamond if that’s your preference.

Color is often considered the second most important C, since it can make a big impact on the value of the diamond.

The Diamond Color Scale

Diamond color is graded on a scale of D-Z. Each grade is divided into one of five categories:

  • Colorless
  • Near colorless
  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
The Diamond Color Scale

A colorless diamond is almost pure white, while lower grades have a yellowish tint. This is caused by the trace element of nitrogen. Completely colorless diamonds are considered to be chemically pure and structurally perfect; imperfections and impurities are what cause color variations within diamonds.

Differences in color are very difficult to determine to an untrained eye. Generally you won’t be able to see a difference unless the diamonds are two color grades apart, and even then it will depend on the position of the diamond. If a diamond is face up, which it likely will be, the naked eye won’t see any color. You may see traces of color from the diamond’s side profile, which will probably be partially hidden by the ring mount.

Colorless diamonds are grades D-F. These are the rarest and most valuable diamonds of all. They show almost no color. F grade diamonds will have a tiny trace of color, but it will only be visible to gemologists if viewed face down.

Near colorless diamonds are grades G-J. Diamonds in this range appear colorless when viewed face up, but will display trace amounts of colors if viewed face down against a white background. The color will not be visible to an untrained eye once mounted. Near colorless diamonds provide excellent value for money.

Faint color diamonds are grades K-M. This category features diamonds that might show a trace of color in the face up position. It’s an excellent option for those who enjoy color and want to extend their budgets.

As previously mentioned, diamonds in the very light or light categories will often have a yellow hue. Sometimes they may have a brownish hue. These are known as champagne or cognac diamonds, depending on the intensity of the shade. While yellow is caused by nitrogen, brown is thought to be caused by internal graining. The earthy color is a result of structural irregularities combined with impurities like nitrogen.


Near colorless

Faint Yellow

How To Set Diamonds According To Color

The metal you choose for your diamond setting can influence the color of your diamond. Make sure your diamond looks its best by selecting the most flattering type of metal.

  • Colorless diamonds pair well with platinum, palladium, or white gold. The pure whiteness of colorless diamonds creates a cool tone that looks best with silvery metals. Choosing a cool metal will accentuate the diamond’s purity of color.
  • Near colorless diamonds pair well with white, yellow, or rose gold. Mostly white, these versatile diamonds look great against any type of gold setting. The warm colors of yellow and rose gold will do a good job of making any color traces less noticeable.
  • Faint colored diamonds pair well with yellow or rose gold. The warmth of yellow and brown undertones in faint colored diamonds looks best against equally warm metals.

Fancy Colored Diamonds

Those that crave color and vibrancy can certainly choose richly colored diamonds, which are also known as fancy colored diamonds.

Diamonds naturally come in almost every color: yellow, blue, pink, green, purple, red, orange, gray, and even black. Fancy colored diamonds are rarer than colorless diamonds, which may add to their appeal. This rarity also extends to lab grown diamonds. There is a limited supply of colored lab grown diamonds; it’s estimated that only 1% of lab grown diamonds are colored.

Color rarity is the determining factor of a fancy colored diamond. The stronger and purer the color is, the more valuable the diamond will be. The most valuable colored diamonds are pink and blue. Yellow diamonds are not as rare, but they are still treasured for their warmth and golden tones.

Fancy colored diamonds still have a grading scale, but it is different to colorless diamonds. The system rates their hue, tone, and saturation.

  • Hue defines the main color of the stone
  • Tone evaluates the lightness or darkness of the stone
  • Saturation describes the intensity of the hue

The stone’s color level is determined by the tone and saturation, which is then graded on a scale that runs from lightest to darkest. The exact scale is:

  • Lightest
  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid
  • Fancy Dark
  • Fancy Deep

The diamonds are then described with their hue. For example, a light blue diamond would be called a Fancy Light Blue Diamond, while a vivid pink diamond would be called a Fancy Deep Pink Diamond.

Fancy Deep diamonds are considered the most valuable, but those that prefer pastel shades can find soft colors that fit their aesthetic in the light range.

Shop Fancy Colored Diamonds

Color In Lab Grown Diamonds

The 4 C’s still apply to lab grown diamonds even though they are created in a controlled setting. Their creation process mimics nature, which means quality variations can still occur. This includes color. Lab grown diamonds should be exactly treated like mined diamonds when it comes to color grading.

The diamond color you choose should ultimately come down to personal preference. Colorless or Fancy Deep may be the most valuable diamonds on paper, but a faint colored diamond will be the most valuable to you if it’s what you find the most beautiful.