4C's Color

Even though diamonds are considered colorless, most are shades of light yellow and brown. A diamond with no color at all is rare and ranks as the highest color grade - 'D'. 

Diamonds are color graded on a scale from D (entirely colorless) to Z (noticeably yellowish or brownish). Color saturation gradually increases with each letter grade. The differences between grades are extremely subtle to the untrained eye but have a big impact on price. Read more about How Color Affects Price
Anything more than the 'Z' grade is considered a Fancy Color Diamond. Diamonds are found naturally in every color of the rainbow. Read more about Fancy Color Diamonds

Diamond Color Grading involves determining how little or how much body color is in a diamond. The less body color, the higher the grade; the more body color, the lower the grade. This process is about deciding the amount of color, or more accurately, the lack of color in a diamond.

What color diamond is the most popular?
Most people choose a diamond in the 'F' to 'K' color range.

Does the metal I choose for a ring affect the diamond's appearance?
Yes. Diamonds graded between 'D' to 'H' color look best when set in white metals such as platinum, palladium or white gold. Diamonds with more color, graded 'I-J' and lower, are best complemented by a yellow gold setting.

Why does the color scale start at the letter D?
If you're wondering why the scale starts at 'D' rather than 'A,' it's because it was common to sell diamonds as Triple A when the scale was introduced in 1953. To avoid any similarities with prior ratings that were arbitrary and inflated, the jewelry industry adopted a color scale from D to Z.

How are diamonds color graded?
Using special set of comparison diamonds, known as 'Masters', gemologists find the closest color match from among the Masters to the stone being graded. Each 'master' is the highest of each grade.

Diamonds are studied in the table-down (or bottom-up) position to determine the quantity of color. This means that graders view the diamond's pavilion and culet rather than its table or crown. Why? To eliminate interfering brilliance and glare coming from the diamond's top. Read more about Color Grading

What is the difference between a fancy yellow diamond and a 'bad' regular diamond?
The letter diamond color scale ends with 'Z', but color saturation doesn't stop at 'Z'; colors continue to increase in color and are considered Fancy Colored. Fancy Colored diamonds are graded on a broader scale that starts with 'Fancy Light', then just 'Fancy', then 'Fancy Intense' and lastly, the very rare 'Fancy Vivid'. We don't consider any diamond to be a 'bad' color, however, more common colors are the least costly and rare colors are the most costly. To understand how price relates to color grades, think of the entire color scale, from 'D' to 'Fancy Vivid' as a bell curve. The rarest and most costly diamonds - completely colorless and brightly colored - are at each end, and the more common slightly tinged diamonds - 'O' to 'S' - are in the middle.

Will my diamond change color as it ages?
No. The color of a diamond is stable and permanent. You can leave your diamond in the sun or boil it in cleaner - it will not change color.
The color of diamonds can only be changed by advanced methods such as exposure to intense radiation energy or heating to extreme temperatures, such as 2000°C, while under tremendous pressure. These methods, known as treatments, are used on purpose to change or enhance the color of diamonds. If your natural diamond has undergone one of these treatments, then it must be disclosed by the jeweler and will be stated on your GCAL certificate. Read more about Diamond Treatments

D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M... What is the best diamond color for me?

When considering what color diamond is right for you, start by looking at an H or I color diamond. This is in the middle of the popular color grade range (from D to M color). If you see some color then consider buying a diamond of a higher color grade, and if you don't see any color then consider buying a diamond of a lower color grade.

It is difficult for an untrained eye to see the difference between each individual letter grade, but most people can easily see the distinction between diamonds of a few grade differences, such an E and an H or an H and a K, especially when compared side by side. Color differences are most noticeable when diamonds are next to one another. Keep this in mind when purchasing loose diamonds that will be set next to one another in a piece of jewelry. Make sure they are similar colors - not more than 2-3 grades different.

How do I know my diamond was graded correctly?
Make sure your diamond comes with a Grading certificate from a respected gemological laboratory, such as GCAL. GCAL is an independent laboratory, not affiliated with any jewelers, and has the consumers' best interests in mind.

Before GCAL gives a diamond its color grade, it is individually examined by two experts and verified by a third senior expert. GCAL's laboratory is a controlled environment, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and lighting. There are only a handful of gemological laboratories in the world so well equipped.

In addition, GCAL uses only Precision Master Color diamonds for color grading comparison. Every diamond in each Precision Master Color set is specially selected because it is precisely the right color. GCAL examines thousands of diamonds to compile just one Precision Master Color set.

Although grading diamonds is an expert opinion and not an exact science, maintaining meticulous gemological tools, such as Precision Master Color sets, is one way that GCAL ensures the most accurate, objective and consistent grading possible. And don't forget... GCAL is the only diamond grading company to stand behind their grading with a money-backed grading guarantee. Read more about GCAL's Standards

Does fluorescence affect a diamond's color?
Yes, it can affect the appearance of color. The stronger the fluorescence the greater impact it has on the apparent color. Fluorescence that is graded as 'Faint' has little or no affect but 'Strong' fluorescence influences the appearance, especially in lighting environments with an intense UV component. But this influence is not always negative. For example, a diamond in the K to L range that is Faint Yellow will benefit from Medium Blue Fluorescence. Read more about Fluorescence

What causes the different colors of diamonds?
In theory, a diamond is pure carbon with a perfect atomic structure, but in the real world, this is extremely rare. On the atomic level, every diamond has some imperfections such as misaligned structure or, very commonly, impurities such as nitrogen and hydrogen. Nitrogen impurities cause yellow colors, boron impurities cause blue colors and structural imperfections cause pink and brown colors.

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Each panel of a GCAL Certificate tells a story to the customer.
  • Panel 1

    Verifies the identification process

  • Panel 2

    Verifies the 4C's quality grading

  • Panel 3

    Illustrates the quality of cutting and proportions revealing the skill of the diamond cutter

  1. 1Gemprint
  2. 2Laser Inscription
  3. 34C's Grading
  4. 4Photomicrograph
  5. 5Hearts & Arrow
  6. 6Optical Brilliance
  7. 7Optical Symmetry
  8. 8Proportion Diagram