Diamond Color Scale – Everything You Need to Know
When we say “color” we really mean “absence-of-color” since the best color is no color at all. “Color” is different yet interactive with “fire“, which is the diamond’s unique ability to bend light like a prism producing bright inner flashes of reds, blues, and greens. Fire is one of the reasons diamonds are so eye-appealing. To get a better idea of the difference differently colored diamonds, take a look at the Bixler Diamond Color Scale to compare the diamonds side by side.
What Are the Color Grades on the Diamond Color Scale?
The highest grade is “D color” all the way down to “Z.” The reason the GIA’s scale originates with D instead of A is to avoid confusion with the many competing color grading scales that were in existence years ago. Body-tones are usually yellow but can also be brown or gray.
D – Completely Colorless
Very rare. The highest grade. Bixler strongly recommends this color.
E – Colorless
Minute traces of body-tone detectable to an experienced gemologist. No perceptible difference in body-tone from D once you set the diamond into jewelry. Rare. Very high grade. Bixler strongly recommends this color.
F – Colorless
Slight trace of body-tone detectable to an experienced gemologist. Barely perceptible difference in body-tone from D once the diamond is set into jewelry. High grade. Bixler strongly recommends this color.
G – Near-Colorless
Body-tone is readily detectable to an experienced gemologist. Slightly noticeable difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting. Still, a high-grade color that Bixler recommends.
H – Near-Colorless
Body-tone readily detectable to a novice when compared side-by-side with colorless diamonds. Significant D difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting. A higher than average grade color that we still recommend here at Bixler.
I – Near-colorless
Body-tone easily detectable to a novice when compared side-by-side with colorless diamonds. Significant difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting. A respectable color grade especially if used in yellow gold.
J – Near-Colorless
Body-tone is obvious to a novice when looking for it. Near colorless is its official technical term but it’s not near-colorless in reality. Body-tone is less noticeable if set in yellow gold and may appear one to two color grades higher if medium to strong fluorescence is present. Recommended only in some circumstances.
K→W Faint to Light Color
The body-tone is so obvious that it detracts from the diamond’s beauty. Not recommended unless you require a particular size for your diamond yet have a limited budget.
X, Y & Z – The Bottom of the Diamond Color Scale
If the body tone is yellow then it looks somewhere between lemonade and the sun. In certain cases, it can be set into jewelry so that it appears as if it’s “Fancy Yellow.” This is desirable because its price will be much lower than that of a Fancy Yellow.
How Important Is Color?
Some online education presents color as a personal preference stating that you may prefer the “warmth” of a diamond with a touch of color. Consider such statements as old-wives’-tales or just plain bad advice. Find a diamond expert with a discriminating eye whom you find trustworthy who will show you many diamonds side-by-side in varied lighting environments. Almost no one prefers a lower color diamond when presented in this professional manner. Bixler will help you chose the highest color within your budget balanced amongst the other characteristics that determine a diamond’s beauty.
You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish the difference between, say, an E and an F color diamond once set into a ring. Even a gemologist cannot determine an exact color grade when the diamond is set in a ring so it’s best to consider a range of two colors. But you’ll easily notice color differences when viewing a series of upside-down diamonds set on a white background. Setting them upside-down eliminates the shards-of-rainbow-colors that can “confuse” your color perception.
Bixler will show you diamonds using this procedure so that you’ll see and understand color just as gemologists do. You’ll even be able to see the difference between two diamonds of the same color since each color grade has a range from low to high.
How Do Gemologists Grade Color?
Gemologists line up a set of pre-graded diamonds, placed upside-down on a white background in color grade sequence. The diamond being graded is “jumped” along the line, like checkers, until its color matches. The room’s lighting and environment must be matched to the GIA’s specifications and the pre-graded “comparison diamonds” must be certified by the GIA since ones from lesser gemological labs’ are different.