Color - Affecting Value and Appearance

Color differences in diamonds can be very subtle and difficult to see. Therefore, they are graded in controlled lighting conditions and compared to a master set for accuracy. The diamond is then assigned a letter grade from this color scale established by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA).


D color grade stands for the absolute absence of a body tint. There is no A,B, or C. The further down the alphabet, the more body color the stone has. Differences between D, E, and F are difficult to detect to the eye. Grades that range between G and H will also appear colorless except when placed right next to D. Not everybody's eyes are the same, but as a general guide most people will start to notice a very slight yellow tint in grades J, K, L, especially in larger stones.

Metal makes a difference. Icy white color grades of D through H are most stunning in white mountings in platinum or white gold. Warmer white color grades of I through K are more desirable in yellow gold settings. The tint of J-Z diamonds will appear more pronounced in white metals.

Color affects value. Colorless diamonds have always been in demand. The grade of "D" is extremely rare. Combine rarity with demand and a dramatic affect on value is the result. In fact value can vary as much as 40% in value from the color grade of D to I.

Color affects beauty. The less color tint that a diamond has, the more pleasing is the effect of light returned from the stone. The rainbow flash of colors known as dispersion seems to spark more brilliantly in a white diamond. However, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. A rich champagne color can make a stunning appearance in the right setting.

Diamonds can be pink. They can also be lemon yellow, green or violet. Diamonds have been discovered in almost every color of the rainbow. These alternative colors are known as fancy colors and when found in their natural state, can be very rare. Fancy colors can also be the result of artificial enhancement, usually irradiation. 

Color grades may vary between graders. Ideally the color grading scale should be a uniform reference tool. Unfortunately grading relies on the opinion of the appraiser. Compare diamonds that were graded by the same lab. An H grade given by the European Gemological Lab (EGL) may look totally different than the diamond graded H by GIA. 

Mills Jewelers provides the tools for your comparison. Remember, you already have the most important equipment for judging color; your own eyes. Use them in person by looking at loose diamonds side by side in full spectrum lighting. You can decide what color choice is right for you. We provide the opportunity.

We require certificates of origin through the "Kimberly Process" to insure all diamonds from
Mills Jewelers are "Conflict Free."