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What are the colors of a good diamond?

Diamonds come in a variety of colors, from colorless to yellow, brown, pink, blue, green, and more. The most prized and valuable diamonds are those that are colorless or near colorless. Let’s take a look at diamond color and what makes certain colors more desirable.

What is Diamond Color?

Diamond color refers to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade. Diamonds are evaluated face down on a white surface next to master stones that represent established color grades. The comparison determines the grade of the diamond’s colorlessness. Diamonds can exhibit various hues including yellow, brown, grey, blue, pink and green. Trace elements like nitrogen impurities in the diamond cause these colors. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses the following alphabetic scale to grade diamond color:

Color Grade Color Description
D Colorless
E Colorless
F Colorless
G Near colorless
H Near colorless
I Near colorless
J Near colorless
K Faint yellow
L Faint yellow
M to N Very light yellow
O to R Light yellow
S to Z Fancy yellow/brown

So diamonds graded D-F are considered colorless, G-J near colorless, K-M faint yellow and N-R very light yellow. True fancy colored diamonds such as pinks, blues and yellows are graded differently using descriptive terms.

Why is Diamond Color Important?

Diamond color is one of the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color and carat weight) used to determine diamond quality and value. Whiter diamonds are considered more desirable because:

  • They are rarer – Most diamonds contain nitrogen impurities that cause a yellowish tint. Truly colorless stones have less impurities and are less common.
  • They have greater brilliance – Whiter diamonds allow light to pass through and reflect back more evenly for maximum sparkle.
  • They are more versatile – Colorless diamonds pair well with both white metal and yellow gold settings.
  • They fit traditions – Many cultures associate white diamonds with purity, love and marriage.

While faint yellow diamonds cost less, a diamond with noticeable yellow will seem of poorer quality to buyers. As you move down the color scale, the diamond’s value decreases significantly.

What are the Best Diamond Colors?

Here are the most desirable diamond colors for engagement rings and jewelry:

Colorless: D-F

Diamonds graded D-F are considered colorless to the naked eye. They transmit light without any color filtering and exhibit the highest brilliance. The rarest and most expensive diamonds fall in this color range.

Near Colorless: G-J

Diamonds graded G-J will have a barely detectable warm tone but face-up white compared to a master stone. Near colorless diamonds offer excellent value while looking virtually colorless once set in white gold/platinum.

Faint Yellow: K-M

Diamonds in the K-M range will show a slight yellowish tint to the untrained eye. The warmth is more visible in larger stones. Still an excellent quality choice, just at a lower price point.

Are Colorless Diamonds Always Better?

Not necessarily. Warm-hued diamonds like K-M can offer a beautiful, charming look especially in antique and vintage settings. Lower color grades are also more affordable for larger carat sizes. Here are some instances where a faint yellow diamond may be perfectly suitable:

  • Vintage style engagement rings or jewelry where a warm tone fits the design aesthetic.
  • Fancy colored diamond accents like yellow, rose or chocolate diamonds where you want a color match.
  • Larger carat stones (2 carats+) where colorless gets extremely expensive.
  • A tighter budget where you prioritize carat weight over color.

There are also unique collector’s items like canary diamonds and champagne diamonds that showcase the stone’s rich color. So while colorless is the top tier, lower colors can be beautiful choices in the right setting.

How Does Fluorescence Affect Diamond Color?

Fluorescence refers to the diamond’s emission of a soft glow, usually blue, under ultraviolet light. About 35% of diamonds exhibit fluorescence which can affect their appearance and value. Here’s how it impacts color:

  • Strong blue fluorescence can make a diamond appear hazy or oily under normal light.
  • Medium blue fluorescence is rarely detectable to the eye in a set diamond.
  • Faint blue fluorescence has no discernible impact on diamond color or clarity.
  • Blue fluorescence is known to offset yellowish tints and can make a diamond appear one grade whiter.

So while strong fluorescence is undesirable, faint to medium fluorescence can actually enhance color especially in I-J diamonds, moving them into near colorless territory. Pick a diamond certified by GIA or AGS to ensure the fluorescence is accurately assessed.

How to Buy Based on Your Budget

Since diamond prices rise exponentially with color grade, selecting the right color for your budget is key. Here are some tips:

  • For maximum brilliance, aim for G-H color if your budget allows. I-J are great picks if funds are more limited.
  • For sizable center stones (1 carat+), look at J-K grades to optimize carat weight.
  • Consider rose gold or yellow gold settings which complement the warmth of K-M diamonds.
  • Pick fancy colored diamonds like champagne, cognac or chocolate diamonds for a unique look.
  • Opt for an H-I center stone with a halo of smaller L-M diamonds to boost perceived whiteness.
  • G-H color side/accent stones can provide the look of colorless at a lower price.

Choosing the sweet spot on color based on your budget and style preferences is key to getting the best diamond for your needs.

Does the Diamond Cut Impact Color?

Yes, the diamond cut can influence the visibility of color. Here’s how:

  • Well-cut diamonds reflect light more evenly to minimize color visibility.
  • Poor cuts with dark areas, extinctions or leakage can exaggerate undesirable color.
  • Shallow cuts tend to show more color especially in the corners.
  • Deep cuts can make the diamond appear darker or muddier.

Always choose a diamond with a cut grade of Very Good or Ideal to get the best interplay of color and light. The precision of a well-cut diamond enhances its brilliance and masks color imperfections.

Should You Buy a Diamond Certificate?

It’s highly recommended to purchase a diamond grading report from a reputable lab like GIA or AGS. The certificate verifies the diamond’s exact measurements and quality characteristics. For diamond color, you can count on a certificate for:

  • Confirming the color grade and description (e.g. H color, near colorless).
  • Listing any fluorescence that may impact appearance.
  • Providing an unbiased, third-party assessment.
  • Giving you peace of mind about the diamond’s authenticity.

Certificates do cost extra but give you full transparency into what you’re buying. Make sure to verify that the report number laser-inscribed on the diamond matches the one on the certificate.


When it comes to diamond color, the top choices are D-F colorless for unmatched brilliance, G-J near colorless for excellent value and sparkle, and K-M faint yellows for affordable large carats and warm-hued settings. While colorless is the pinnacle, lower color grades can be beautiful options based on budget, style and setting. A quality cut and certificate confirm you’re getting the right diamond color. Consider how she’ll wear her diamond, in what metal, and the overall budget to pick the perfect diamond shade that expresses your love.