While most people think of diamonds as being white or colorless, they come in every color of the rainbow. The body color of a white diamond can range from colorless to light yellow. As one of The Four "C"s of judging diamond quality, color refers to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. As a rule, the whiter the stone, the greater its value. Even a slight tinge of yellow or brown could have a negative impact on a stone's value. Most diamonds are graded on the GIA color scale that begins with "D" for colorless and continues all the way down to "Z," with the yellow tint becoming more visible as you move down the alphabet. The best way to see the true color of a diamond is by looking at it against a white surface.

PGI Color Stone Grading Chart

Stones in the D-F color ranges are considered the most valuable because they are the rarest. Here are the color ranges for white diamonds, based on how visible its body tint is to the naked eye:

  • D through H - If a trace of color is present, it is visible only to a trained eye.
  • H through L - Small stones are colorless; larger stones are tinted.
  • L through Q - Stones show an increasing yellow tint, even to an untrained eye.
  • R through W - Stones appear yellow, even to an untrained eye.

Even though stones in the D-F color grades are the most valuable, you can still obtain great value (and save considerable money) with diamonds graded G-H, since no color is visible to the untrained eye. Even stones in the J-M range, which have a very faint hint of yellow visible to the untrained eye, can appear colorless in the right jewelry setting. As a rule, yellow metal (gold) hides traces of color in a colorless diamond, while white metals (white gold, platinum, silver) will enhance it.

Although the great majority of diamonds come in shades of white, there are also "fancy" natural colored diamonds in red, pink, blue, green, yellow, brown and other colors. Fancies are valued for their depth of color, just as white diamonds are valued for their lack of color. They vary in color richness or saturation from "faint" to "vivid," with the latter grade reserved for stones with the deepest saturation.

The value of a fancy diamond depends largely on the rarity of its color (for instance, reds and greens are rarer than yellows and browns); the saturation of the color; and the purity of the color (whether the color is bright and clear or clouded by tinges of other underlying colors). Top grade fancy diamonds are extremely rare and can command tremendous prices.

Though fancy colored diamonds rarely occur in nature, laboratories can easily create them through irradiation and heating. This process can permanently turn a natural colorless diamond into a fancy in a wide range of colors. Treatments have also been developed to make lower-color white diamonds whiter. Irradiated colored diamonds have a significantly lower value than natural fancy diamonds and can be detected in a gem laboratory.

How to Judge Diamond Color??

If you ask someone to evaluate a diamond’s color, and the person holds the diamond ring up to a light, stares at it a few seconds, and seriously tells you, “It has good color,” you’ve gone to the wrong person.

Professional Methods

First, there’s no such thing as “good color.” Color is graded by letters (from D to Z, see Figure 1 below), and you are in search of a letter, not a non-specific term that may mean one thing to one person and a totally different thing to another. Expect a letter as your answer, or at least a range of letters.

Second, diamond color is not evaluated by simply holding the diamond ring to a light. This would require both perfect eyesight and perfect memory of the shades of diamond color. The diamond should be compared to the diamonds in a master set, where diamonds of varying colors have already been properly labeled. Evaluations against master sets should be accurate within one grade, depending on several factors, including the inspector’s ability, intensity of the light in the room, and the master set accuracy and quality (e.g. cubic zirconium master sets deteriorate over time).

Third, ring settings can obscure the true diamond color and influence the observer’s opinion. A proper diamond color evaluation should separate the diamond from the setting.

Fourth, if available, an expert will use a colorimeter. It can work on loose diamonds and set diamonds, so if the inspector has a colorimeter, you don’t need to worry about the diamond ring’s setting obscuring the actual diamond color. Colorimeters are accurate to within half a color grade.

Quick Judgment Method

If you are not is search of a precise evaluation but simply want a rough estimate of a diamond’s color, you may be in luck. Most people are simply looking for a diamond that appears to be “colorless” (D, E or F) or “near colorless” (G through J). Fold a clean, white business card in half and place the loose diamond in the fold. If you detect any yellow, the diamond is at best a K, a “faint yellow” grade, and possibly quite lower. If you don’t detect any hints of yellow, the diamond color is probably “colorless” or “near colorless,” a grade of J or above.

Diamond Cuts (Shapes) Overview

Diamonds come in a variety of shapes: round (also called brilliant), princess, Asscher, marquise, radiant, emerald, baguette, oval, heart, pear, cushion, etc. Shape is one factor in a diamond’s price. Some shapes are more difficult to produce than others. Part of the rough diamond is wasted when cutting and polishing diamond stones.

The round (also known as “brilliant”) is by far the most popular diamond shape, accounting for more than 75% of all jewelry diamonds sold.

Princess cut (also known as “square modified brilliant”) –

the second most popular shape, which accentuates diamond’s “fire” and brilliance rather than its luster. The Princess cuts are typically less expensive per carat than round brilliants because cutters do not have to cut off as much material from the rough diamond.


this is a rectangular shaped diamond with a larger, open ‘table’ (‘table’ is the top of a diamond). Because of the large square of the table, the color of this diamond is more noticeable and hence should be chosen more carefully. Typically, anything in the range of K to Z grade will be visibly too yellowish.


this 72-faceted diamond was designed in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, a diamond jeweler from Amsterdam. The Asscher is a square version of the rectangular emerald cut. This shape has regained some of its popularity in recent years, thanks to being featured on Sex and the City and by some celebrities. An Asscher cut diamond resembles an emerald cut diamond, except it is square, rather than rectangular. Both of these cuts have cropped corners, allowing a four-prong setting to grasp the corners neatly.

Clarity and color of the diamond are most important in an Asscher cut. The open table highlights the diamond’s clarity, just as the open table does for an emerald cut diamond. The original Asscher cut had 58 facets, like a modern square emerald cut diamond. The updated Royal Asscher has 74 facets. The top displays many small step cuts, and underneath the diamond the facets are longer and larger. It has an open culet. The facets combine to give the diamond a sparkling quality and draw the eye deep into the middle of the diamond. While the center of the stone may glitter, the corners are likely to reveal the diamond’s true color.


(also known as “navette” or “little boat” in French) – this diamond, shaped like the hull of a boat. Marquise diamond shape makes the diamond look bigger than it actually is and also makes fingers wearing this diamond look longer and more slender. When buying the diamond of this shape, watch out for the “bow tie” effect (i.e. the diamond’s markedly dark center) if it is cut too thin. The depth of this diamond should not be less than 60%.

Cushion The cushion cut

also called a pillow cut—is between rectangular-oval and oval, so it can be of varying length-width ratios. Simply put, it is a rectangle or square with rounded corners, but it also engages larger facets and an open culet to display the diamond’s depth.This openness comes with an added concern for the diamond’s clarity. When purchasing a cushion cut diamond, aim for a high clarity grade. With older diamonds, pay attention to the amount of light reflected in a cushion cut. Modern cushion cut diamonds are not as dull as those created in the 19th century, since jewelers can now use lasers for precision cutting.


Oval sparkle, similar to the round shape. A standard oval loose diamond has 56 facets, though more facets can be added to enhance sparkle.The oval cut brings attention to long, slender fingers. The oval can be pronouncedly elongated or shorter, almost a round cut, allowing variations to suit many different stylistic preferences. When purchasing an oval cut diamond, make certain the seller has an easy return policy, in case you see a dark spot toward the center of the diamond. Oval cuts, like pear shape, sometimes have a dark area, which appears dull in all types of lighting. This is the “bow-tie effect.” If you plan to use a prong setting, anticipate a six-prong ring to carry most oval cut diamonds.

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