Although most people believe diamonds
to be clear or colorless, the majority of diamonds are yellow,
brown, and black. Most of those diamonds find their way
into industrial purposes, (drill bits, saw blades, etc.)
The rarest of all diamond colors are white (or colorless).
As prices of diamonds rise, the shift
to diamonds with some body color increases. It is very common
to find slightly brown (called "Top Light Browns") or yellow
diamonds in today's jewelry. The whiter the diamond is,
the more valuable the stone is.
Diamonds are graded for color face down,
against a white background. Graders are looking at the actual
body tone (hue) of the stone and comparing it to a set of
master stones graded by the Gemological Institute of America.
The diamond is then assigned a letter grade as seen on the
accompanying chart. Most diamonds used for jewelry purposes
fall into the Near Colorless Category - G to J
The Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.)
grades color alphabetically from D (totally colorless) to
Z (yellow).For a diamond to be considered "colorless,"
the G.I.A. requires that it be a D, E, or F. However,
the D-Z scale is continuous, so the difference between an
F and G is very small. The average color for engagement
diamonds in the United States is G to H.
Jewelers have two tools at their disposal
to judge the color of a given diamond. The first is
what's known as a "reference set" of stones.
A jeweler will compare the stone in question with a set
master stones of known color, and make a qualitative determination
as to the color grading of the stone in question.
When judging the color of a diamond, it
is crucial to see the diamond un-mounted. Ask the
jeweler for a master set of stones to make the comparisons
yourself. To do this, place the diamond in question
next to the reference stones face down on a white piece
of paper, and compare the color of the stones until you
get the best match.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider
when selecting color is the type of setting you plan on
using. If you plan on mounting the stone on a platinum
or white gold setting, consider a diamond in the D-G range.
Yellow gold will be much more forgiving to a less than colorless
stone, but regardless of the setting, the diamond will start
to appear yellow if the color grade is lower than about