4 C’s of Diamonds – Part 3 Color

In this four part series we will look at the Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut of diamonds. This third in the series will be all about Color.


Diamond Color  actually refers to the absence of color in the majority of diamonds on the market. GIA’s color grading scale is ranked D-Z with colorless being D and Z having the most color, before getting to the Fancy Colored Diamonds (which we will look at down below).

When evaluating diamond color,  trained professionals will compare the diamond to master stones that have established color values. This is all done under controlled lighting. An untrained eye may not see color distinctions, but these differences greatly influence the value of the diamond.

Fancy Center Diamond Engagement Set

Why does the GIA color grading system start at D? Before GIA created the  universal D-Z Color Grading Scale, a variety of other systems were used loosely, which included A, B & C. The creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts at the letter D.

Reference: https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/diamond-color/

D Color is perfectly pure, simply colorless. E color is close behind, followed by F, which are both still in the colorless range.

D Color VVS1 Clarity Pear Solitaire Diamond Ring

G, H, I and J are all considered Near Colorless. Some consumers may start to see color in the G-H range, but most will not see the barely there yellow tint until the I-J range.

H-J Color SI Clarity Star Diamond Earrings

K, L and M are in the Faint color range. The yellow tint in the diamond is more noticeable in this range. In the case below, the color is played up even more by the chosen setting.

M Color .95 Carat Marquise Diamond Engagement Ring

N-R is considered the Very Light range. In this range the diamonds may begin to appear yellow in color, but they are still in the middle of the scale with much more hue to come.

N-O Color 1.00 Carat Emerald Step Cut Center Diamond Ring

S-Z are considered the Light Yellow range, but we are still not into the Fancy color range yet. These diamonds are a good choice, especially for accent stones, or for those wanting color without wanting to have to pay the higher prices of the Fancy color stones.

GIA Certified S-X Colored Side Diamond Ring

Beyond Z are the Fancy Colored Diamonds. These may be yellow, orange, brown, blue, pink, etc. or any number of combinations to accurately describe the color. The three Fancy Colored diamonds in the ring below are all slightly different colors and are described as such in their Fancy Color designations.

GIA Certified Fancy Colored Three Center Diamond Ring

Fancy colored diamonds are quite rare, but some more than others. For example, yellow and brown diamonds are more prevalent than the more exclusive pink, green and blue.

GIA Certified Natural Fancy Center Diamond Ring

Fancy Colored Diamonds also vary in their intensity, which also affects price, such as Fancy Light, Fancy Vivid and Fancy Deep.

GIA Certified Natural Fancy Deep Orange Yellow Center Diamond Ring

The other consideration for Fancy Colored diamonds is how the color was obtained. Natural is obviously the most desirable, but also the most expensive. You will also find treated, enhanced and irradiated colored diamonds, which allow the average consumer to enjoy them as well.

1.80 CTW Enhanced Multicolor Diamond Ring

See the Part 4 of  4 C’s of Diamonds Series – Cut. For the first two in the series, see Carat and Clarity.

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