The GIA ranks diamonds by comparing each stone to a “master stone” that represents known colors on the scale. This keeps the color ranking of each stone fairly standard across the market meaning most G diamonds will look the same in color no matter what their cut, size or where they came from. However, there are other factors that can impact the perceived color of a diamond, no matter what color grade it has: the setting it’s set in and the fluorescence of the stone.
The setting of a diamond can impact how the color of a diamond looks to the average person. In yellow gold settings, stones lower on the color scale will still look white, while the same stone may look yellow if it was placed in a white gold setting. This means, if you want to save money on a stone for a yellow gold or rose gold setting, you might be able to get a diamond that is lower on the color scale and still have a stone that looks colorless or near colorless. It is important to note, if you are planning on putting a stone in a platinum or white gold setting, stones with even a subtle amount of color can look yellow.
Another factor to consider is the light that these diamonds emit. Most diamonds give off a visible fluorescent light when exposed to UV radiation, such as the radiation from the sun. This doesn’t happen in all diamonds, but it does happen in some. Typically the stone will have a strong blue fluorescent hue that can make a light brown or yellow diamond look colorless in the right light as the blue will mask the yellow tinge. However, a stone that has too much fluorescence can look cloudy, or “oily” when in the sun, which will lower the color value of the diamond.
While the average person on the street may not be able to come up to a diamond and see that it’s very light in color or colorless, these distinctions in color can make a huge difference in the value and quality of a stone. For the buyer, these differences can make a huge difference in the price.
Stone color and value are highly correlated, and many experts believe that after cut, color is typically the next most important characteristic to look for when selecting a diamond. When it comes to assessing the value of any polished diamond, it all comes down to rarity. Colorless diamonds, no matter what the shape, cut or size are more rare, and therefore more valuable. As a buyer, you are going to spend much more on a diamond of the same size that is a D, E or F than you are on one that is a K, L or M.
When attempting to buy a particular diamond, it is important to note that most diamonds available on the market today will have some small tint of yellow or brown. Pure, colorless, D-rated diamonds are very hard to come by. This color may not be noticeable to you or to the average naked eye, and it may be even more undetectable when placed in a particular setting, but it may still be there. What is most important is how that diamond looks to you the buyer, in the setting and whether the price of that diamond and its color matches up to your perceived value of the stone.
One of the best ways to determine whether or not a loose diamond’s color will impact the overall look in a piece of jewelry, is to place it next to a similar stone with a higher color rating. You may find there is no noticeable difference, or you may suddenly feel as though your stone is dingy and yellow. So, while improvements in colors directly increases the per carat price of a stone, ultimately, the most important value to consider is the value that the stone has to you.The less color the stone has, the more you will pay per carat, but when it comes to color there is much more room for interpretation than with the other “four C’s” of diamond buying. This is why when it comes to color, buyers need to take their time, compare the stones and ultimately choose a diamond with a color that best fits their needs.