What is the best Diamond Color Grade?

What is the best Diamond Color Grade?

What is the best Diamond Color Grade?

Posted by Sharif Khan on 16th May 2015

Diamond Color Scale

Key tips/considerations on Color Include: 

Diamond Color Chart

1) For investment purposes, diamonds in the range of D to H color range maintain excellent value; 2) I to J color diamonds are also excellent options for people with budget constraints. These diamonds also maintain relatively high value; 3) if you want a well cut and larger carat weight diamond, K-L color stones might also be a good option for people with budget constraints; 4) medium to strong blue fluorescence makes higher color grade diamonds look whiter. While you'll get a discount on diamonds that have fluorescence, it might also work in your advantage in I to M color diamonds.

James Allen

Color is an important C of the four Cs in a diamond. In addition, diamond fluorescence and certification also affects the price of a diamond. In general, these seven factors are important to consider while buying a diamond.

Depending on your budget, there are many scenarios to consider in order to maximize your budget while selecting the color of a diamond.

1 Scenario One

You have a budget of three to four thousand dollars and you want to get up to 1 carat diamond. In this situation, what would be your best options? What would you compromise on?

The good news is that you have many options to choose from even while on budget. Before I outline some options for you, I want to share how dealers prioritize the diamond selection process. They look for the balance of all four Cs in addition to a consideration for good fluorescence. They would also look for a stone that is highly in demand; in today's market,  round shape diamonds are popular and good investment pieces. However, fancy shape stones are also popular and in demand, so it is important to have the right balance in them as well.

Diamond Color Scale

Photo Credit/Source: Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

Option one would be to get a one carat eye-clean SI2 clarity,  H color, Very Good to Excellent cut, and up to medium blue fluorescence, and GIA graded. In this scenario, you are compromising on clarity slightly, therefore, it is important that you get the right SI2 clarity. It should be an eye-clean stone. Clarity is tricky so make sure you know what types of inclusions to avoid. on the other hand,  getting a slightly smaller stone, say .98ct, might also boost your budget/chances as the price difference could be significant.

Option two would be to get a one carat VS2 clarity J-K color, Very Good to Excellent Cut, up to medium blue fluorescence, and GIA graded. I would recommend sticking to J color even though K color could be an excellent choice (it will be discussed below).

Option three would be to get a 1.3 carat SI1+ eye-clean clarity, K color, Excellent cut, up to strong blue fluorescence, and GIA graded diamond. Here you're compromising color for carat weight in case if the desire is to get a bigger diamond. Make sure to get a high clarity and cut grade diamond if you compromise highly on color!

Hint: getting a rose gold or yellow mounting for a higher color grade diamond could make the diamond look whiter due to the reflection of the metal. Something to consider for J-M color range diamonds.

2 Scenario Two

You have a budget of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars , but you want high grade large beautiful diamond that is also a good investment. What color grade would you consider? What of the four Cs would you compromise on?

Having a large budget certainly increases the options you could consider, but it is equally important to pick the right stone if you're also considering it as a major investment.

Option one for you would be to pick a close to two carat VS2 clarity, G-H Color, Very Good to Excellent Cut, None to Medium Blue Fluorescence Diamond, and GIA graded. In this option, you are maximizing on all four Cs while also keeping an optimal balance.

Option two for you would be to buy one and a half carat VS1 clarity,  D-F color, Excellent Cut, No Fluorescence, and GIA graded diamond. In this scenario, you are going for total brilliance and excellence of all four Cs (looking for a pure investment grade stone) while slightly compromising on carat weight or size.

Option three for you would be to go for a two and a half carat VS2 (eye-clean) clarity, H-I color, up to Very Good Cut, up to medium blue fluorescence, and GIA graded diamond. In this case, you are aiming for a large stone while also not overly compromising on the brilliance of the diamond. Cut and clarity would be important in this scenario, so make sure these two factors are thoroughly reviewed before going for this option. Clarity can specially be tricky so make sure the stone is eye-clean VS2 as large stones with VS2 grade could sometimes be not eye-clean if the inclusion is a large black carbon right on the table.

3 Scenario Three

You have a budget of ten thousand dollars, but you want a diamond that at least has a two carat weight. Size is important to you, but you do not know what C to comprise on in order to get the size that you want?

This is a tricky situation and one that demands careful analysis and research before purchase because you could easily end up with a large diamond that no one cares for.

Option one for you would be to get a two carat+ VS1 clarity, J-K Color, Excellent Cut, medium blue fluorescence, and GIA graded diamond. In this scenario, you are compromising on color, but you are maximizing on size, clarity, and cut. While the stone might end up having a slight yellow tint, it would still be a beautiful diamond full of brilliance and fire.

Option two for you would be to get a slightly smaller than two carat SI1 clarity, I Color, Very Good Cut, Medium Blue Fluorescence, and GIA graded Diamond. In this scenario, you are basically maximizing your budget to get the best of all four Cs in a budget range diamond while also not overly comprising on size.

Option three for you would be to get a two carat SI2-SI1 clarity, H-I Color, up to Very Good Cut, up to strong blue fluorescence, and GIA graded diamond. You are basically trying to get a better color grade diamond in this scenario while compromising slightly on clarity and fluorescence grade. Make sure the clarity and fluorescence is not affecting the overall appearance of the stone. Please note that an extremely high fluorescence grade diamond do not have high resale value if you're taking an investment perspective into considerations.

Ideally, going for a slightly smaller size, better color, clarity and cut might be a bad idea; however, if size not negotiable then comprising on color might not be a bad idea as shown in option one in this scenario.

What is Diamond Color?

Color is one of the four Cs in a white diamond and is graded on a scale of D to Z. In white diamonds, the absence of color or yellow tint would qualify the diamond to be  colorless thus qualifying it for a colorless grade. The higher the intensity and presence of the yellow tint/reflection, the higher the color grade and the lower its value. Please note that color in fancy color diamonds is entirely a different topic.


GIA’s color grading scale is used as the industry’s standard for determining the color of a diamond. In white diamonds, D-F are considered Colorless, G-J are considered Near Colorless, K-M are considered Faint, N-R are considered Very Light Yellow, and S-Z are considered Light Yellow. Color in white diamonds is often considered as the second most important  diamond price determinant after the Cut of a diamond.

Nature is full of colors and every color is a reflection of beauty. Even a colorless substance has a color e.g. water may look colorless, but in reality it has its own color. Color is the possessive quality of an element that leaves a physical, mental, emotional and/or psychological effect on us when we look at it.

Just like anything else, diamonds also possesses unique colors that can be seen and described. This property of a diamond is an important price determining or price ruling factor. In the diamond market, the second most important and influential factor in a diamond after is its Cut is often its Color. It’s the sparkle in a diamond that attracts an eye, and the whiter the sparkle, the more attractive a diamond would be!

There are various colors of diamonds and each color carries its own significance and beauty, and based on that, we determine their market value. A pure diamond will literally have no hue. At the same time, diamonds color may be affected by the impurities that are present in them.

There are many possible colors of diamonds including white, steel gray, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, black and brown. Fancy diamonds have rare colors and they are more expensive as the demand for them is high in the fashion industry. Intensely colored diamonds are also more expensive than other diamonds.

In white diamonds, purest diamonds are colorless and that’s a reference point to the color grade of a diamond. Higher color grade of a diamond means lesser color in it or how close it is to being colorless. A color grade of D is the highest grade whereas Z is the lowest grade.  Diamond color grading is done according to GIA’s D-to-Z grading scale, and it’s accepted as the standard method worldwide. For an untrained eye, it would be extremely difficult to determine slight differences in the color grade of a diamond. Therefore, following GIA’s grading system is the easiest method to verify the color of a diamond. It gets even harder to recognize the real color of a diamond once it is set into a ring or necklace. As the carat weight of a diamond increases, color grade becomes easier to differentiate. D, E and F are colorless diamonds and therefore very pure and expensive. On the other hand, S and Z are light yellow color diamonds and will be substantially cheaper.

Check our diamond price chart to compare actual prices.