How To Evaluate Diamond Color

Contrary to popular belief, diamonds come in an array of colors, not just clear. And some colors, being rarer, are much more valuable than others. These tips will help you to evaluate diamond color in order to determine the value of these precious stones.

Step 1

Understand how diamonds are evaluated. Before a diamond can be given a price or value, it has to be considered in terms of its four characteristics - clarity, cut, carat weight and color. The higher up on the scale each one of these characteristics is, the more valuable the diamond. So when you evaluate diamond color, there are different degrees of color (or different shades) which make the diamond more valuable (and of course, less valuable). No diamond is without color, even the common diamond which most people believe to be clear. In fact, these are referred to as ‘white' diamonds, and it is against these diamonds that all other shades of diamond color are evaluated.

To provide standards for the evaluation of diamond color, the Gemological Institute of American (GIA), came up with a standard diamond color guideline using color stones. So each diamond's color is evaluated or compared against a preselected set of colored gems (called control stones). By doing this, one can evaluate diamond color consistently.

Step 2

The diamond must be loose. In order to properly evaluate diamond color, it cannot yet be set in metal. This is because metal will affect the color of a diamond. The diamond should be placed upside down (point up), and viewed through a jeweler's tool known as a ‘loupe'. This is basically a small magnifying glass that allows gemologists to see the characteristics of a diamond more clearly. Obviously, the diamond must be held loose in the jeweler's hand as he uses the loupe to look at its color.

Step 3

Determine the letter grade of the diamond. Gemologists use a letter grading system to label or evaluate the color of a diamond. Beginning with D and working through Z, each letter refers to a slightly different shade or color. Diamonds that are labeled as D are quite rare, being totally colorless. As the letters progress through the alphabet, so too does the deeper shade of color found in a diamond. Here is a basic list of the lettered color labels for diamonds:

  • D-E-F: colorless
  • G-H-I-J: almost colorless
  • K-L-M: slightly tinted, often yellow
  • N-O-P-Q-R: somewhat tinted, often yellow; obviously to the naked eye
  • S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z: tinted, usually yellow (though could be brown); obvious to the naked eye

Step 4

Other things to consider. Gemologists don't just use a loupe to evaluate the color of a diamond. They will also look at the fluorescence of a diamond, or the amount that the diamond's color varies when placed under ultraviolet radiation (or UV light). Since this is a common type of light found from the sun's rays and also in many lighting fixtures, it is common to consider the extent to which a diamond holds this characteristic, in conjunction with its color.

In general, if you're looking for a beautiful gemstone, consider the fluorescence of the stone somewhat, but also look at the letter grading of the diamond. Any diamond that has been evaluated with color from D - J is a desirable one to have, and a gemologist should be able to help you choose such a diamond that suits your tastes and your budget.


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