You’ve probably heard that colorless diamonds are the highest quality stones when it comes to color, but should you always prefer them? And more important, how colorless should your diamond be?
Degrees of Colorlessness
According to the system used by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America), diamond color is graded using letters, which in turn are grouped into color ranges.
Here’s a breakdown of the main color ranges and the letter grades contained in each of them (from highest to lowest quality):
Colorless: D, E, F
Near Colorless: G, H, I, J
Faint to Light Yellow: K through Z
How Important Is for a Diamond to Be Colorless?
Color is very important for the appearance of a diamond. Some even argue that it is the second most important factor for diamond beauty after cut.
Although experts can argue what the exact order of importance is, it would be useful for you to understand when color is important and when not so much.
Take a look at the following factors that determine the importance of color:
The extent to which a diamond’s color will affect the stone’s appearance depends on the proportions of its cut, which determines how light is bent and reflected by the diamond.
A more proportional cut will capture more light, and any color tints won’t be as visible as in a poorly cut stone.
A related factor is diamond shape: Some shapes tend to reflect light so as to make color hues more visible.
The appearance of the classic round cut is least affected by color because of the stone’s strong brilliance, whereas fancier shapes such as oval or radiant make any yellowish tints more prominent.
The color of the setting is also important for how visible the color of your diamond will be.
White settings, such as those made of platinum, will make any diamond whose color is darker look tinted because of the contrast.
Yellow gold settings, on the other hand, will make diamonds set in them stand out and look brighter.
Generally, the more colorless a diamond, the brighter it will look and the less prominent any flaws within it will be.
How Colorless Should My Diamond Be?
First of all, keep in mind that diamonds graded D are very rare and expensive. It is rarely worth it to pay so much money for a color that most people cannot tell from a grade a couple of notches down.
If you are ready to pay the price, this is the best color to have, especially when set in platinum.
The next two colorless grades, E and F, are a bit easier to find, but they are still relatively rare and expensive.
Consider them if money is no object and you need a colorless diamond that will be set in platinum or another white metal or alloy.
Diamonds graded G and H fall in the Near Colorless range. These stones are a good alternative to the colorless variety – you will hardly be able to tell the difference, but they are significantly cheaper.
These grades are most suitable if you are buying a diamond that will be set in platinum or white gold, especially if the stone is cut in a fancy shape different from the round cut.
Stones with grades I and J are at the bottom of the Near Colorless range. These diamonds display a very slight color that can be perceived with the naked eye only if the stone is put next to a much whiter object.
Diamonds of these colors are a good deal – they are even cheaper than G-H stones and you will still be able to put them in platinum or white gold as long as they have a round shape and a symmetrical cut.
Fancy shapes with these grades have more visible yellow tints, so you may want to have such stones set in yellow gold.
Diamonds graded K, L and M have a faint yellow hue and for this reason, they are not suitable for white mountings.
These grades are a good choice if you need a diamond that you will have set in yellow gold.
There’s really no point in paying lots of money for a higher grade diamond as it won’t look much different from a K-L-M stone when put in a gold mounting – the yellow color of the metal will tint the diamond anyway.
The Naked Eye Factor
Whatever the color grade, you should see each diamond you are considering separately and decide whether it looks good to you as some people are more sensitive to color than others.
It is true that diamond color is graded by comparing stones to a benchmark, but since the diamond you choose will be worn in isolation, you should also evaluate its color in the same way.
Of course, if you are selecting a stone that will be set together with other diamonds, you should match colors.
And don’t forget that the differences between adjacent color grades are very subtle and hard to discern with the naked eye.