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DIAMOND COLOR REVIEW
By Matt Ubertini
Matt has a vast experience working with top diamond manufacturers and jewelers in NYC's diamond district for over 18 years. With graduate gemologist degrees from the Gemological Institute of America and International School of Gemology, Matt uses real world examples to help simplify the understanding of diamonds.
Many of you may have already heard the standard terminologies like "colorless" diamonds (consisting of grades D through F) and "near colorless" (consisting of grades G through J). Some find these terms to be too vague especially when there is a significant price difference between diamond colors. Additionally, online photos of diamonds really don't help you see the true color difference. Since most single shot photos of loose diamonds are taken in a controlled light box, it can make a bad diamond look good, and a good diamond look bad. In this article I will try to explain & illustrate the diamond color grade scale from the average viewer's perspective, along with some of the feedback I received from jewelers on how their customers react to each color grade. I also found that diamonds that fall just below the "near colorless" group like "faint yellow", are worth noting because they provide excellent value to a buyer who may be not too sensitive to color.
TOP VIEWAs mentioned in this topic's outline, I’ve had the privilege of working with many diamond wholesalers in New York City's diamond district. This allowed me to gain access to a large selection of diamonds and gave me an opportunity to compare them side by side under daylight fluorescent lighting which, as a gemologist, we use for grading diamond color. For this diamond color review one wholesaler organized a lineup of GIA certified round brilliant diamonds of approximately 2 carat total weight, each from D color through N color. To keep an even playing field, I tried to keep all the diamonds the same shape and size. So here we go; Below is a picture of the lineup of GIA certified round diamonds from D color on the left all the way to N color on the right with our grading light directly overhead.
ANGLE VIEWI find the overhead shot where the diamonds are facing up is important to consider, since this is the largest visible part of the diamond and is what most people see once the diamond is set in a ring. However, you'll find that this view also makes it difficult to detect color and is actually not the angle GIA uses to grade color. To be able to see the true color of a diamond, you'll need to see it from the side with no distractions from the diamond's natural sparkle. The side view has the least amount of light refracting, since the rays are directed upwards and not sidewards. You can see below as we start to look at the diamonds from an angle, the color saturations become more apparent from one grade to the next:
SIDE VIEWOnce we turn the diamonds completely on their side, the color variations become crystal clear. There is little to no light reflecting from this angle and the full body of the diamond color saturation can be graded when compared side by side.
Yet even from this view which is about 2X magnification under ideal lighting conditions, the first touch of color starts around I or J, but only a subtle hue. I then got a chance to observe the diamonds independently and I will share my feedback, opinion and recommendations on each of them.
D, E, FD-F graded diamonds make up the colorless family. Sometimes dealers offer a bigger discount on these diamonds to offset the higher base price. In those rare occasions, if the difference in price is not too steep compared to diamonds with lower color grades then by all means, you should grab the deal. Just make sure there isn't another inferior characteristic that is causing the price to drop.
E color – I find E colors to be almost indistinguishable from D, even compared side by side, it is very hard to detect any color in the E graded diamonds. E color is usually the color of choice when D color simply isn’t available within the criteria they’re searching for. Here again, I would give up this color grade for either the money savings or to get a larger diamond within the same budget.
F color – still considered colorless, with the only color detected when compared side by side with E or D color. F color actually being more popular color of choice than D or E color because it is colorless without spending the extra premium on D or E.