Diamond Color

Fifty Shades of a White Diamond


4C's   |  Cut   |  Clarity   |   Color   |   Carat


The most expensive alphabet in the world


leon mege diamond color GIA grade scale comparison

The GIA is the absolute authority on all aspects of diamond grading.
For in-depth information, a visit to the GIA website is a must.
The subject of diamond color grading presented there is authentic and detailed, unlike the regurgitated versions cloned by almost every jewelry website.
Our approach is different, we explore the subject from the point of view of a jewelry designer.


• A Freak of Nature: D-colored diamond - click here to read more


GIA’s color scale defines D-E-F grades as “colorless,” G-H-I-J “near colorless,” K-L-M “faint,” N-R “very light,” with the rest being “light.”

• Can you tell the difference? - click here to read more


When it comes to white diamonds, the word “color” actually means “a tint”.
The vast majority of diamonds have a small amount of yellow cast, while still appearing colorless to a casual observer.

Diamond Color

Not only is a stone with a “sun tan” equally, if not more, beautiful than its albino counterpart, a light yellow tint does make diamonds look more natural.


• Fancy that! - click here to read more


Stones in the lowest end of the color spectrum are good candidates for being turned into “fancy” grade using a centuries-old foil-back technique, which is essentially adding a gold mirror “reflector” that will enhance a stone’s natural color. Not every stone is suitable for such “treatment”.
When they do, it’s a great find, that turns a $10,000 stone look into that of a $50,000 one.


In terms of value in an engagement ring:

  • D-E - high initial cost, resale profit potential (the advantage is useless in most cases)
  • F- fair value, overkill for most people. Premium choice for those who can afford it without stretching the budget
  • G-H - top choice for those who are quality-oriented. Good value, superior look. Always in high demand, selection might be limited in hard to find shapes, such as an Antique cushion.
  • H-I - great choice, excellent pricing, especially when paired with good SI1 clarity
  • J-K - exceptional value, budget choice
  • L and below - bargain bin for some, a fantastic choice for those who are familiar with warmer colors


Adding a minute amount of yellow, like that seen in H-J range stone has a decidedly positive effect on the stone appearance, it improves sharpness and depth perception, the latter is very important for step cuts, such as an Emerald or Asscher cut.


• Cut as the color’s modifier - click to read more


There are cultural influences on the choice of color, for example in India people prefer warmer colors, in China D or E color stones are the most valued variety, in Vietnam people hunt for white stones with strong blue fluorescence and in Russia nobody seems to care about the color as long as the stone is ginormous.

Based on their purpose some colors are better suited for a:

  • Three stone ring G to I
  • Halo ring F to H
  • Micro pave E to I
  • Single stone studs I to L
  • Old European cut J to N
  • Emerald cut G-H-I
  • Asscher cut H-I-J-K
  • Investment D or E
  • Universal sweet spot G-H
  • Most “bang” for your money K-L-M

Before the 80s, color-grading standards were more relaxed in comparison to today’s consistency in grading, in part due to technological advances such as a use of colorimeters.


• K is the new H - click to expand - click to read more


Showcase “trickery” - using a light that somehow makes stones look “white” is an urban legend.


• About retail store lighting - click to read more


Aside from a color grade consideration, one must be careful to avoid stones with a distinct brown or green tint. GIA color grade assignment specifies a yellow hue for any diamond color that is not a fancy grade.


• Green or brown vs. yellow tint - click to read more


Diamonds beyond Z-grade are called "fancy" and their value increases with the color strength. Diamonds occur naturally in almost every hue: red, green, pink, blue. They are the rarest and command astronomical prices.

There is an unfortunate inconsistency within the GIA color chart: the descriptions of the three lower color groups contains the term “yellow” instead of the more appropriate “yellow tint,” making an impression that stones are yellow in color. This is incorrect - the stones are white with a cast of yellow.

In order to describe a diamond color, we prefer to use terminology based on a range of color temperature scale seen on the chart below.

GIA Leon Mege The World Jewellery Confederation International Diamond Council Historical Terms
grade and description common sense description description Antwerp London
D Colorless Cold (fluorescent-light like) white Exceptional white + Colorless Finest White Jager
E Exceptional white River
F Full spectrum (natural) white Rare white + Face up colorless Fine White
G Near Colorless Rare white Top Wesselton
H White White Wesselton
I Slightly tinted white Slightly colored Commercial White Top Crystal
J Soft white Tinted white Top silver cape Crystal
K Faint Yellow Silver cape Top cape
M Tinted color
Tinted color Light cape Cape
N Very Light Yellow Warm (incandescent) white Tinted 2 Low Cape
O Cape Very light yellow
P Light yellow
S Light Yellow Tinted 3 Dark cape

Light fancy yellow with foil-back


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