Education > Color
Diamonds are found in a variety of
colors, but chances are all the diamonds you'll see in your shopping will be white
or yellow, and the whiter the better. The yellow color in diamonds comes from
trace amounts of nitrogen. One part in a million will cause a yellow tint to appear
in the K color diamond. As a rule, the more yellow the stone, the less value it
has. There's a good reason for this. The yellower the stone, the less sharp and
sparkly it appears. A whiter stone lets greater amounts of light pass through
it, making it sparkle and shine.
to the rule is the Fancy Yellow (canary) diamond, which is beautiful bright yellow
and priced similar to white diamonds. There are four color grades of Fancy Yellow
(Fancy Light Yellow, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Intense Yellow and Fancy Vivid Yellow)
with each deeper shade bringing a higher price. We discuss colored diamonds in
more detail on the web page we have dedicated to that topic. See Natural
Fancy Colored Diamonds
Keep in mind that the color
illustrated on these color charts is exaggerated in order to see the difference
on your computer monitor. Actual color differences are much more subtle.
Perception of color
The amount of
color you see in a cut diamond depends largely on its size, how it is cut, and
whether or not it is mounted. The bigger the stone, the more obvious its color
will be, just as a carafe of wine shows more color than a glassful.
people are more sensitive to the color of diamonds. What may appear slightly yellow
to you may look white (lack of color) to another person, so it will take a higher
color grade to satisfy you. The average shopper doesn't even notice yellow tints
in mounted diamonds having a grade from G to J because the increasing nuances
of color are so slight.
What you see as the "color"
of a diamond is really a combination of bodycolor, brilliance, and dispersion.
Bodycolor is the inherent color of the stone and is caused by the different colors
of light that are absorbed by the stone.
the total amount of light returned to the eye by reflections from within the stone
and from its surface. This often is referred to as the "brightness"
and "life" of the stone and determined largely by the cut of the diamond.
The better the cut, the more light is reflected within the diamond and back through
the top of the diamond.
or fire, is a spreading and separating of white light into its component hues,
much like a prism. Even a colorless diamond will flash rainbow colors due to dispersion.
Both brilliance and dispersion are desirable for beauty but are not measured or
documented on any certification. Have a look at the figure on the right to see
the illustration of dispersion (courtesy of IGI)
Keep in mind that color is graded with the diamond upside down in controlled
lighting conditions. What you see looking a diamond face up is impacted more by
the brilliance (cut of the diamond) than the color of the diamond. Color grading
is not an exact science and even the certification laboratories will disagree
about a diamond's color grade. Remember, color grades are a range and at one point
a high H is equal to a low G color. The distinction between color grades is so
fine that sometimes the same stone will get different color grades if sent to
the same grading laboratory a second time.
Prices for whiter color grades increase
more dramatically than the actual visible color difference to the eye. Color grades
D, E and F are colorless and it is very difficult to see the differences between
these because by definition they are colorless. However, there is a significant
price difference because D color diamonds are rarer than E and both are much rarer
than F color. Please have a look at the figure below to see the difference in
pricing when it comes color.
In the near colorless range (G, H, I and J), there is a more noticeable difference.
While G color is very close to colorless, J color is very close to faint yellow.
Most J color diamonds have a slight yellow tint. Diamonds with H and I color grade
diamonds appear white and are great values because they are more plentiful than
the colorless grades and therefore are less expensive.
To know what
color grade you are comfortable with, go look at some diamonds side by side. Remember
to be comparing HRD
certified diamonds so you can be sure of the color you are actually seeing.
It is also helpful to be looking at similar sizes and shapes. Some shapes,
like rounds, are brighter than others. Princess cut diamonds tend to be deep and
darker looking than a round with the same color grade. Diamonds with greater carat
weights tend to show more color than smaller diamonds with the same color grade.
Beware of the jeweler that tells you a higher clarity diamond makes
it appear whiter. Clarity has no impact on color and this misinformation was meant
to trick you into buying low color, high clarity stones they have in inventory
and can not get rid of.
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