A quick guide to diamond colours - what you need to know

If you are in the process of buying a diamond ring or any other type of diamond jewellery and if you’re seeking advice from the right people – you’ll regularly hear discussions about the colour of diamonds. This may not make much sense to everyone, as most of us think diamonds are colourless! Well, yes, they are, but when we discuss diamond colours we are actually referring to the lack of colour and the transparency of the diamonds.  Below we take you through a quick guide to colour and diamonds, helping you to make the right decision when purchasing your next piece of diamond jewellery.

How are colourless and coloured diamonds formed?

Diamonds are composed of 100% pure carbon and if this carbon is rendered without impurities, it will result in a colourless diamond. This is rare and due to this rarity, completely colourless diamonds are precious and their price reflects this rarity. Almost all diamonds will contain some degree of colour or “impurity” as some may call it. What causes this are traces of boron, hydrogen, nitrogen or other elements. Nitrogen, however, is the most damaging as this will create yellow and brown tints in the diamond.


The colour grading of diamonds.

To fully understand diamond colours, there is a system which gemmologists use to decipher the purity in colour of the diamond. This is done by examination under controlled light, where the diamond will be compared to a “master stone” which has a predetermined diamond colour. The chart below indicates the grading system.

the colour of diamonds

You may feel that there's not much difference from one colour to another. And to a certain extent this is true. However, the best diamond experts with the perfect trained eye, can quickly spot a discoloured diamond. As you can imagine though, diamonds vary drastically in price and rarity.

Diamonds graded DEF are colourless. This is the highest grade a diamond can receive and these diamonds are extremely rare. The price of a graded DEF diamond will be high. GHIJ are almost colourless and the trace colours are extremely difficult to detect. These too will be rare and slightly less expensive than DEF but still relatively expensive. KLM will have faint yellow colour and this will be noticeable.  NOPQR have a stronger yellow colour and again will be noticeable. STUVWXYZ are not fit to be sold as gemstones, unless you specifically would like to have a diamond with an amber colour.


What are fancy diamonds?

Don’t confuse the above colour-grading with diamonds that are actually coloured. In this case, they are called fancy diamonds. If you are opting for a fancy diamond, you’ll be looking for colour intensity. The deepness of the colour will mean it was more intense and therefore it will be rarer.  Fancy colour diamonds are graded in order of increasing intensity - the GIA ranks Fancy Diamonds in the following order;

  1. Faint
  2. Very Light
  3. Light
  4. Fancy Light
  5. Fancy
  6. Fancy Dark
  7. Fancy Intense
  8. Fancy Deep
  9. Fancy Vivid


the colour of diamonds

(Image source: GIA)


Below is an example of one of Portfolio of Fine Diamonds most beautiful and rare Fancy Vivid Yellow rings.

fancy yellow diamond

If you are thinking about purchasing a colourless or fancy diamond ring, it’s imperative that you seek expert advice from industry professionals, experienced buyers, gemmologists and registered valuers. All diamonds from Portfolio of Fine Diamonds are certified (GIA, IGI, HRD and Anchorcert), so you can be sure you’re in the right hands.

Speak to us today for more information of buying that perfect piece of diamond jewellery. 

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