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Diamond Color Chart and Guide

by Clean Origin
Last updated on October 16, 2023

Color, or the absence thereof, is arguably the most important of the 4Cs. We’ve included a diamond color chart to help you get a sense of what different diamond color grades look like in real life.

Diamond Color Chart

What is Diamond Color?

Arguably the most important of the 4Cs, color is the quality most easily seen by even the untrained eye without magnification.

It is important to note that color variations are often very subtle. When we speak of color in a diamond, we are speaking about the body color of the stone itself and not the reflected color from the light as it passes through the facets. In gauging the most desired color of a diamond, we are generally speaking about a lack of color or a diamond as near colorless as possible. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no color, like a drop of the purest water. This is why colorless diamonds tend to be the most sought after.

oval lab grown diamond

What is the “Best” Diamond Color?

While often asked, this question misses the most important things to consider: your own preferences and needs! With that in mind, what is the best color diamond for you? Diamond color (like clarity, cut and carat weight) is a feature of a diamond. What is “best” depends on what is important to you. Everyone wants a diamond that looks great, but which features (color, cut, clarity, or carat weight) matter most will depend on your individual taste and budget. Our experts will be happy to assist you in prioritizing the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight that best match the look you want and stay within your budget.

Diamond Color Scale

Diamonds naturally occur in a wide variety of colors, ranging from absolutely colorless diamonds to the rare fancy shades of pink, blue, and bright yellow, among others. While fancy color diamonds do exist, we will focus on what most people want: as little color as possible. The universally-accepted color grading scale for diamonds was developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to allow people all over the world to have a common description for the various colors of diamonds and to understand the value of what they are buying. This scale for evaluating color begins with a colorless diamond, which is a “D” color. Here’s a diamond color chart to show you what differences in diamond color grade look like:

diamond color scale

Why Does the GIA Diamond Color Scale Start at ‘D’?

Why does the scale start with D rather than A? Prior to GIA creating the scale used today, there were different grades used by various people with multiple meanings. Some started with “A” for colorless diamonds or were numerical (1, 2, 3, etc.). GIA wanted to start fresh with no similarities to other less-understood or proprietary measurements. Today, the scale developed by GIA is used by Clean Origin and virtually all other legitimate diamond dealers.

Diamond Color Chart

D, E, and F diamond colors are colorless diamonds. It’s difficult to find completely colorless diamonds, but those three color grades will be as close as you can get. And E color diamonds, for example, will look extremely similar to D or F color diamonds. The extremely subtle differences require examination by an expert looking at the stone through the side and using comparison stones in a controlled environment to assign a specific grade. Color grades G, H, I, and J are all near colorless and will all appear so when mounted or “face-up”. Experts assign a specific grade by careful examination against a set of master stones for comparison. Most people see little difference in these grades, especially when mounted in platinum or white gold prongs. K colored diamonds contain a faint yellow color. Colors L and lower are not available at Clean Origin, with color more visible as you go down the scale. These may have a brown or yellow color. 

Diamond Color Advice: Settings & Shapes

A diamond’s color grade is judged when it is not mounted. A trained gemologist looks at the loose diamond through the side of the stone rather than the top. They use a set of pre-graded comparison stones viewed side by side with the diamond being graded in a controlled environment to eliminate any reflected color. If a diamond exactly matches a comparison stone, that is the grade it receives. If it is between two grades, such as darker than F but lighter than an H color diamond, then it would receive a G color grade. Diamonds can reflect colors not present in the stone. For that reason, nearly all mountings offered by Clean Origin feature prongs in platinum and white gold to minimize any reflection caused by a choice of yellow or rose gold used in the mounting. By and large, a diamond’s color is likely to be more apparent in a diamond shape with less depth or faceting, such as an emerald cut. A round brilliant diamond, especially one with a “Good” or better cut grade, will offer more fire and scintillation and make any body color less obvious when mounted.

Radiant solitaire engagement ring.

White Diamonds vs Fancy Colored Diamonds

“Fancy” colored diamonds are quite rare in nature. Their color is usually due to the presence of a chemical such as nitrogen, which will create a yellow diamond, or boron, which creates a blue color. Fancy colored diamonds have color as their primary grading feature and may be termed as “Fancy Light”, “Fancy Deep” or “Fancy Intense” depending on the hue and depth of color present in a particular diamond. Some colored diamonds are also the result of treatment or “enhancement” that is applied to less desirable color diamonds that are still within the traditional scale. Fancy color diamonds are most common in fashion-oriented fine jewelry. Fine white diamonds remain the standard in bridal jewelry like engagement rings. 

Round blue studs.

Diamond Color & Clean Origin

All the diamonds sold by Clean Origin have an accompanying certificate from IGI (International Gemological Institute) with color grade clearly stated. We offer diamond colors from D through K. This ensures that you will have a diamond that faces up without any distracting color visible. You will also see a specific grade in the item description. The diamond’s features of color, cut, clarity, and carat weight all impact the diamond’s cost. However, as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” therefore only you can be the judge of which diamond is right for you. Our experts are well trained to help you to choose the diamond and engagement ring style that will be the perfect choice for you.

Diamond Color FAQ

“Will a yellow gold setting bring out the yellow in a diamond?”

Not necessarily, especially if the diamond ring uses prongs that aren’t yellow gold. All the yellow and rose gold mountings sold by Clean Origin have the diamond set in white gold prongs. If a diamond has a lower color rating, then it may appear more yellow if it has yellow gold prongs. With platinum or white gold prongs, that isn’t a concern. It’s really the color of the prongs surrounding the diamond that may affect the color displayed, not the ring itself. If the mounting you choose is all yellow gold, including the prongs, then we would suggest the diamond with the highest color grade that is affordable for you. The closer these diamonds are to colorless diamonds, the better they will look. 

“Will the side diamonds in the mounting match my center diamond?”

Side diamonds in Clean Origin mountings are a minimum G-H color and SI clarity. Please note that these are minimum grades and the actual diamonds will be chosen to best highlight your center diamond. Because of their small size and good clarity and color, they will look great with any center diamond we offer.

I’ve heard jewelers refer to certain diamonds as “warm”. What does that mean?”

This is an old term usually referring to a diamond with faint yellow body color. There are some people who prefer this look. For the most part, none of our diamonds have a low enough grade to be “warm.”

“What about the diamond studs offered by Clean Origin? Are these good color and clarity?”

All diamond studs offered by Clean Origin are a minimum J color and SI1 – SI2 clarity grade (refer to this diamond clarity chart for more info on clarity grades). This is better than most diamond studs commonly offered by department stores and chain retail jewelers. In general, most people prefer to spend less for the diamond in earrings than for rings because unlike a ring, they are less exposed to view at all times and when they are, they receive less light than a ring. Our stud earrings are a beautiful choice and have an excellent value.