Diamond Color Chart & Buying Guide: Understand Grade Scale

Bottom Line Recommendation:

If you manage to stick to our guidelines below, I don’t find any reason why you would spend too much on color. Quickly examine this color diamond from Blue Nile and then compare it to this G color, for example. When properly set, both diamonds will appear similar based on color. Without giving up an ounce of aesthetic quality, you are enjoying roughly 18% savings on the diamond.

The secret is to ensure that the diamond appears white in correlation to the setting. Take a look at this extraordinary J color Oval diamond crafted in an elegant gold solitaire setting then shift your glance to this equally remarkable J color diamond crafted in a lovely rose gold solitaire setting. Typically, a J or K color would possess a yellowish tint. However, because it’s contrasted to a darker color, in this case the yellow or rose gold, it looks clear and brilliant. In contrast, here is an identical K color diamond crafted in a halo setting. As you can see, the result is not as impressive.

In one hand, the K color provides excellent value (helping you enjoy a larger diamond for your money without altering the appearance of the ring). On the other hand, what you get is an underwhelming ring that will leave you dissatisfied. The trick is determining the line that is perilous or risky and toeing it to get the most value out of your money. If you want to know whether or not you are on the right path in purchasing a diamond, don’t hesitate to contact us for some much needed friendly help.

If you are looking to buy diamonds, Diamond color is one of the details that should never be missed. Though you don’t need to be knowledgeable about all the aspects of Diamond Color, knowing the basics will help you avoid overspending on a single feature when it may not provide you with more beauty or value.

Diamonds with distinct color are precious and come in a variety of color schemes such as blue, pink, and yellow. When it comes to white diamonds, though, a yellow tint is normally not as prized. With the presence of a faint coloring, minimal light is relayed back to the eye. The clearer a white diamond is, the more sparkling and also valuable it tends to be.


The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is a popular and reputable independent diamond grading body that publishes reports for diamonds.

When your shopping for diamonds, it would be best to look for a GIA certificate for every diamond that captures your interest.

GIA grades Diamond Color through the scale below:

GIA Diamond Color Scale


D is the optimum color grade, which means it’s as clear and colorless as it gets. When magnified and examined intently by the naked eye, the diamond with this grading would look almost colorless. E and F ratings are just as colorless to the untrained eye and only a professional gemologist would be able to distinguish D, E, and F grades.

The three color grades are often set in platinum or white gold, as yellow gold and other jewelry settings detract from the diamond’s clear beauty.

Nearly Colorless

Diamonds with G-J color grades will look almost colorless to the naked eye. Although there are slight shades of color present, it would still be best to set such diamonds in platinum or white gold to minimize any possible impact brought about by the color reflection from yellow gold.

G-J diamonds are not as rare compared to D-F and are also cheaper. In this almost colorless range, price normally goes down by 10-15% for every grade and may not create any obvious changes to the normal eye.

Faint Tint

Diamonds with K-M grading exhibit a faint yellow tint that is noticeable even to the untrained eye. There are diamond buyers who favor these warmer colors set in an elegant yellow gold setting.

Diamonds that belong to these grades are typically 50% cheaper than those that belong to the G-J class.

Very Light Tint

Diamonds with N-R grading have obvious yellow or brown tints making them a whole lot cheaper. With that being said, it would be wise to refrain from purchasing diamonds that belong to these classifications.

Light Tint

S-Z diamonds come with very noticeable yellow or brown tinting. With that being said, we also would not recommend you to purchase these kinds of diamonds.


When examining a collection of diamonds, it is vital to keep a keen eye on their respective coloring. Aside from the GIA Color Grading, don’t forget to examine the diamond personally or have an expert do it for you. Try to search for signs of obvious tinting and how it relates with both white light and colored light reflection.

Also, be sure that the diamond appears white in relation to its setting – this is very important. And always take the necessary time to make sure that the diamond sticks out as the most appealing piece of the jewelry since it is, after all, the most vital part of the ring.

In terms of the most ideal setting, here is the best Diamond Color for each shape:

White Gold / Platinum Solitaire Ring

Round: H-J If you settle with a grade higher than H, you will be spending money for an upgrade that is unperceivable to the naked eye.

Princess, Emerald, Asscher: G-I Grades.

AllotherDiamondShapes: F-H Grades.

Yellow Gold Ring

Round: K-M Grades.

The distinct yellow color coming from the gold will fuse with the diamond’s color, which means any grade above K will appear inevitably a bit yellowish.

Princess, Emerald, Asscher: J-K Grades.

All other Diamond Shapes: I-J Grades.

Pave or Side-stone Settings

Round, Princess, Emerald and Asscher: G-I Grades.

All Other Diamond Shapes: F-H Grades.

Halo Settings

All Diamond Shapes: F-H Grades.


There are diamond sellers who say that Color is the second most important feature of a diamond’s aesthetic appeal and quality, but no claim can be more misleading.  We will impart this vital guideline to you so you will avoid wasting your hard earned money on an aspect that provides little to no enhancement to beauty and value.

Just so you know, Diamond Color is, in fact, an important factor in the overall beauty and brilliance of a diamond. However, the variations between the color grading scale are often minimal or entirely invisible to the naked eye. For instance, the color variations between diamonds ranging from the G-J grades are barely noticeable to any person no matter how acute his sense of detail is. The only exception would be experts with their magnification tools.

When you bought a diamond that came with the highest possible Color Grade, you might have pated yourself on the back for doing a job well done. However, based on the countless years we have spent on examining a whole constellation of diamonds, we are 100% sure that you could have spent your money on other more important aspects such as a diamond’s Cut Quality.

Adjacent Diamond vs Color Grades

James Allen could not have said it better in his article about Diamond Color:

“Most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. The difference in price, however, can be significant.”

The more excellent the cut of the diamond is (for instance, a Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond, which is currently the finest on the planet), the more difficult it would be to perceive its color.

For a much more deeper understanding, take a careful look at the two Diamond Color charts presented below. The nine diamonds arranged equally on the right and left sides are all the same. The nine diamonds displayed on the right side are facing down and sorted in order by Color. Those on the left are arranged in random order.

Now try to answer this question to the best of your abilities: can you arrange the nine diamonds in the left according to their correct grading order?

(Answer (on the left side) – First Row: G, L, E. Second Row: F, J, D. Third Row: H, K, I.)

Obviously, it’s quite challenging for the eye to perceive any specific element of a diamond.

What Your Eye Perceives About the 4 C’s of a Diamond

In a diamond, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight) come as one to determine the aesthetic quality and brilliance of the diamond. With that being said, it would prove difficult for the naked eye to separate one element such as Color or Clarity.

Every part interacts with perfect synergy and the combination of the 4 C’s offer the overall brilliance and beauty of a diamond. Your eye does not notice one element separately – it perceives the entire synergy of the 4 C’s.

Thus, instead of concentrating on a single aspect such as Color, it would be best to gauge a diamond’s distinct beauty and quality as a whole.


So you can effectively differentiate diamonds through their Color, the ideal route would be to analyze color recommendations by Diamond Shape.

Since each shape comes with its own distinct form and structure, Color serves a different level of importance in its overall beauty. The various facet designs play an important role in how much light is trapped inside the diamond instead of transmitting it back to the eye.

Using a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the most insignificant and 10 being the most significant), we rate the importance of Color for these Diamond Shapes:

Round: 3

Princess: 5

Emerald& Asscher: 6

Oval, Marquise, Pear, Heart: 7

Radiant, Cushion: 8

What Round Diamond Buyers Need to Keep in Mind

Round Brilliant Cut is currently the hottest diamond shape in the market – more than two-thirds of diamonds sold are Round Brilliant Cuts.

When you’re in the market looking for Round Cut Diamonds, Color doesn’t hold that much significance in the overall appeal of the diamond. For example, if you present a Round Cut Diamond to any person, save for diamond sellers and gemologists, an I or even a J colored diamond will look clear to them.

And we are talking purely about loose diamonds here. When you are mounting the diamond on a yellow gold setting, you can pretty much stoop down a few levels to a K, L or even an M color. The piece will still maintain considerable brightness and clarity to the human eye.

Different Settings and Their Effect on Diamond Color

Simply put, the kind of setting that you opt for in your diamond can have the potential to hide or augment its color. For instance, even white gold or platinum engagement ring settings can cloak the diamond’s color on a certain level.

Based on this example, you can observe exactly how small the differences are between the Color grade of D and J on a Round Brilliant diamond. Particularly for Round diamonds, although it also holds true to other shapes, Color is mainly a relative trait.

In plain English, a diamond with I color will only appear like an authentic I-color if and only when it is set beside a diamond with higher color for comparison. As a matter of fact, comparing two diamonds is how even expert diamond dealers and gemologists grade Color. The expert puts the diamond to be gauged on top of a white folded card beside a master diamond for comparison to determine its exact Color.

Matching Center Diamond Color with Side Stones

But even in the eyes of a diamond expert, it would still be problematic to evaluate a diamond’s color simply by plain sight. Unless the person who owns the diamond will be bringing around a set of GIA color samples to compare their ring to continuously, then there is nothing to be concerned about with Color.

However, Color grade will prove important if you are buying an engagement ring with accent diamonds or maybe a Three Stone Ring. With that being said, it would be best to have the accent diamond’s color grade complement that of the center stone or a little darker to complement the higher color grade of the primary stone.

If you intend to purchase a classic solitaire engagement ring setting without any diamonds on the side, spend your money on other features other than color to avoid wasting on a feature that won’t provide you with any value or beauty.

Fluorescence and How it Interacts With Diamond Color

A final area to look into is Fluorescence and how it interacts with a diamond’s color. Fluorescence pertains to the nature in which a diamond reacts when subjected to UV light. Ultraviolet light enhances certain types of color especially white.

Strong or Medium Blue Fluorescence will normally reduce the brilliance of a clear diamond, but most of the time transform a poor graded diamond appear whiter. For grades D-F, and even G, we recommend steering clear from Strong Fluorescence.

When you’re in the market for an exceptional diamond for a cheaper price tag, consider those that have J or a K color with Strong Blue Fluorescence.

Try Out Our Diamond Color Matching Game

Below, you will be given diamonds from D to K viewed on their side (the manner in which professionals grade color) and at the top there is a share of those eight diamonds but now viewed face up. Go ahead and try to match them up and see how well you can tell different color grades apart!

Are you thinking about going over your budget for a higher color diamond? If you are, let’s find out if you can even determine the difference between these real diamond images of varying colors!


Getting that perfect diamond that shines the brightest is all about determining the key features that play a significant role in a diamonds innate beauty and brilliance.

Never prioritize color over more important elements such as Diamond Shape and Cut. Once you have determined the ideal Shape and Cut, only then should you shift your attention to color. As we have cautioned you countless times in this article, never forget that Color should never be your prime focus.

If you want to avoid the potential risks and pitfalls involved in purchasing a diamond, feel free to contact us for some friendly help and advice. We will do all the hard work for you and bring you only the best and the finest diamonds to choose from.

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Kevin Lee is a former tech advisor who cut his teeth in Silicon Valley. He now spends his time sharing his passion for investing in diamonds and jewelry. You can reach Kevin for any comments by using this form.