How to Choose a Diamond Color

The term “color” in white diamonds actually refers to the lack of color present in a diamond.  Diamonds composed of pure carbon are colorless and extremely rare and costly.  Most diamonds contain nitrogen, boron, or hydrogen all of which impact color.  A majority of white diamonds sold on the market today contain traces of nitrogen, which causes slight shades of yellow or brown.  Small, subtle differences in color can make a substantial difference in a diamond’s value.

Diamond Color Grading System

In a effort to eliminate confusion related to diamond color, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) implemented the color grading system in the 1950s which is still being used industry wide today.   Diamonds are graded on a scale beginning with the letter D (colorless) and ending with Z (light yellow or brown).   When creating the new color scale GIA chose to start with the letter D as a means of starting over.  Prior to GIA implementing the D-Z scale, other systems all of which were inconsistent and inaccurate, already used the letters A-C, numbers 0-3, and the Roman numerals I-III.

Choosing a Diamond Color

Diamond color is largely a personal preference.  Some people prefer a colorless diamond while others prefer the warmth of a diamond having a trace of color.  If you do not have a specific color choice in mind, you should always choose the highest color grade within your budget.

As mentioned above, diamonds are graded on a scale from D-Z.  Z colored diamonds should not be confused with fancy colored diamonds.  While slight color variations in the colorless and near colorless ranges may not be that noticeable, diamonds graded beyond H may be noticeable to some with the unaided eye.

Diamond Color Grades

Colorless D – F

D – colorless and rare.  D colored diamonds are completely colorless to the unaided eye

E – almost completely colorless.  E colored diamonds have microscopic traces of color which can only be seen by a trained expert.

F – almost totally colorless.  F colored diamonds have small traces of color which can only be seen by a trained expert.  F colorless diamonds are at the end of the colorless range and offer a great value to someone looking for a colorless diamond

Near Colorless G – I

G – nearly colorless and an excellent value for you money.  Color will not be seen with an unaided eye.

H – I – slight trace of color that can only be seen to the unaided eye next to a colorless diamond

Faint Yellow J – M

These diamonds have color that is visible to the unaided eye.  These offer a great value for someone that is not looking for a colorless diamond.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Diamond Color

Many factors should be considered when deciding on color.   You should always look for a diamond that is as white as possible within your budget.

  • When a diamond is well cut the diamond’s refraction and dispersion will often disguise certain degrees of color and may make a darker diamond appear whiter when viewed with the unaided eye (without magnification).
  • The size of the diamond will also affect the appearance of its color.  Color can easily be seen in larger diamonds as opposed to smaller diamonds.  Often times it is difficult to see color in diamonds under a 1/2 carat with the unaided eye.   Gemologists use magnification to determine the difference in color of two otherwise similar diamonds that may be two or three color grades apart.  In larger size diamonds it does become easier; however while there may be a very fine disparity between one color grade to the next, the cost can be significant.   If a larger diamond is a priority, you should consider sacrificing slightly on color.
  • The shape of the diamond will affect its color as well particularly step cut diamonds such as the Asscher and Emerald that have large open facets and do not display the brilliance of other cuts.  The center of these diamonds display a “window effect” where some of the color in the diamond can appear washed out and make it appear whiter then its actual color grade.  The shallower the cut of the diamond the more apparent this will be.

Fluorescence

One additional factor in grading the color of a diamond is fluorescence.  Fluorescence is the emission of visible light by a diamond when it is exposed to ultraviolet radiation.   Approximately 10% of all diamonds on the market today exhibit fluorescence.  Years ago, these diamonds were referred to as blue white diamonds.  Today, fluorescence on a diamond certificate is divided into five different categories: none, faint, medium, strong, and very strong.  Most diamonds that do fluoresce do so in a blue color; however, yellow and other colors are possible.

Fluorescence can be both a negative and a positive.  In the strong and very strong range a diamond may appear oily or cloudy which will greatly reduce the attractiveness and value of the diamond.  However, diamonds of I color and lower can actually look whiter with some fluorescence which; enhances their value.  Better quality diamonds with fluorescence generally sell at a discount to similar ones without.  The usual reason is not that it is less beautiful, but that the general public is under the opinion that fluorescence is a negative.  It is easier for a jeweler to sell a diamond without fluorescenc  than it is to try and explain it.

To learn more about diamond color, visit our diamond education section

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Diamond Color Chart

Buyers Guide: How To Purchase Diamonds

Buying a diamond should be a great experience and one that is not confusing or overwhelming.  Like any other large purchase you make, education and knowledge is key.  Before purchasing your diamond make sure you have at least a basic understanding of the 4Cs, diamond shapes, diamond terminology, and what to look for on a diamond grading report.  This will prepare you to ask the right questions and will give you the confidence that the decision you make is the right one for you.

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Carat Weight, Color

Diamond Cut

Of the 4Cs, Gemologists believe that cut has the greatest influence on a diamond’s beauty.  Cut is the factor that determines the diamond’s fire, sparkle, and brilliance.   Diamonds have a unique ability to effectively manipulate light.  This unique quality can only be realized with an extremely high level of accuracy during the cutting and polishing process.  Where nature dictates the uniqueness of color and clarity, humans affect the cut.  While cutting diamond rough, cutters must not only consider the proportions of a diamond, but also the craftsmanship of overall symmetry and polish as well.

A diamond’s brilliance comes from light entering the crown and reflecting from one facet to another and returning back out the crown.  A diamond that is cut too shallow or too deep will not reflect light properly and the diamond will not be as brilliant as a diamond with an excellent cut.

Diamond Clarity

Clarity refers to the absence of clarity characteristics in the diamond. The GIA clarity scale consists of 11 grades ranging from flawless to included.  When determining a diamond’s clarity grade, GIA considers the size, nature, color, position, and quantity of clarity characteristics under 10x magnification.  The lesser the number of inclusions or blemishes a diamond has the higher clarity grade it will receive.  A diamond with no inclusions using 10x magnification will be considered flawless and is very rare and more costly.

Inclusions

An inclusion is a clarity characteristic either totally enclosed in a polished diamond, reaching or extending into it from the surface, or one that is caused by treatments or the cutting process.  Note – Inclusions caused by treatments or the cutting process may not always be documented on the diamond certificate.

Blemishes

A blemish or external clarity characteristic is on the surface of the diamond only and can be caused by wear, the cutting process, or may be a result of the diamond’s crystal structure.   Blemishes play a lesser role than inclusions do when determining the clarity grade, but may affect the polish grade.

GIA Clarity Grades

FLFlawless – no blemishes or inclusions under 10x magnification.

IFInternally flawless – no inclusions and only very minor surface blemishes.

VVS1 and VVS2 Very, very slightly included – very, very small microscopic inclusions extremely difficult to see under 10x magnification.

VS1Very slightly included – very small microscopic inclusions difficult to see under 10x magnification.

VS2Very slightly included – very small inclusions somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification.  These diamonds represent a good value to someone looking for a high quality diamond, as the very small imperfections do not affect the beauty of the diamond.

SI1Slightly included – small inclusions that are easy to see under 10x magnification. This clarity is an excellent choice for someone looking to stay within a budget, but wants a diamond that will look as good as a higher clarity diamond except when viewed under magnification.

SI2 – Slightly included – small inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. Depending on their location within the diamond, they may sometimes be visible to the unaided eye without magnification.  SI2 diamonds are attractively priced and typically no visible difference can be seen without magnification.  If you are interested in an SI2 diamond and would like us to personally verify if it is eye-clean, please give us a call at 1-800-979-1910.

I1* and I2Included – imperfect with inclusions that are obvious to the unaided eye and may affect the diamond’s durability.

I3*Included – imperfect with inclusions that are extremely obvious to the unaided eye and pose a definite threat to the diamond’s durability.

*At Since1910.com, we do not sell I1, I2, and I3 clarity diamonds.

Diamond Carat Weight

Carat weight refers to the size of the diamond.  Carat is the standard term used for the weight of a diamond and received its name from the seed of a carob tree.  The carob seeds were used by early diamond traders on scales as units of weight for small amounts of diamonds because of their consistent size.  The weight of the carob seed was 200 milligrams and the weight of a carat is exactly 200 milligrams or as it is know today, 0.2 grams

Many believe that the term carat represents the size of the diamond however; carat represents the weight of a diamond.  One carat is divided into 100 points.  So, for example, a quarter carat or 25 point diamond weights .25 carats (cts).   Diamonds weighing over one carat are expressed as carats and decimals.   They are measured to the hundred thousandths of a carat and rounded to a hundredth of a carat.   For example, a 1.25 stone would be described as one point twenty five carats.

The cost of a diamond is not measured in weight alone.   Several diamonds of the same weight can be priced considerable different.  When calculating the cost of any diamond, clarity, cut, and color are major factors as well.

Diamond Color

Color refers to the absence of color in the diamond.  Diamonds composed of pure carbon are colorless and extremely rare and costly.  Most diamonds contain nitrogen, boron, or hydrogen all of which impact color.  A majority of white diamonds sold on the market today contain traces of nitrogen, which causes slight shades of yellow or brown.  Small, subtle differences in color can make a substantial difference in a diamond’s value.

In a effort to eliminate confusion related to diamond color, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) implemented the color grading system in the 1950s which is still being used industry wide today.   Diamonds are graded on a scale beginning with the letter D (colorless) and ending with Z (light yellow or brown).   When creating the new color scale GIA chose to start with the letter D as a means of starting over.  Prior to GIA implementing the D-Z scale, other systems all of which were inconsistent and inaccurate, already used the letters A-C, numbers 0-3, and the Roman numerals I-III.  It is important to note that diamonds at the end of the color range with a noticeable yellow tinge are not considered fancy yellow color diamonds.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Diamond Color

  • When a diamond is well cut the diamond’s refraction and dispersion will often disguise certain degrees of color and may make a darker diamond appear whiter when viewed with the unaided eye (without magnification).
  • The size of the diamond will also affect the appearance of its color.  Color can easily be seen in larger diamonds as opposed to smaller diamonds.  Often times it is difficult to see color in diamonds under a 1/2 carat with the unaided eye.
  • The shape of the diamond will affect its color as well particularly step cut diamonds such as the Asscher and Emerald that have large open facets and do not display the brilliance of other cuts.  The center of these diamonds display a “window effect” where some of the color in the diamond can appear washed out and make it appear whiter then its actual color grade.  The shallower the cut of the diamond the more apparent this will be.

Diamond Shapes

Diamond shape is the basic outline of the diamond.   Here are some popular shapes sold today.

Round Brilliant is the most popular.  It consists of 56 to 58 facets and displays the most brilliance, fire, and scintillation of all diamond cuts on the market today.

Asscher is a stepped square cut also known as the modified square emerald cut.  It consists of 72 facets and resembles the shape of an octagon.

Cushion is not as brilliant as many of the more modern cuts, but has a classic romantic look that definitely stands out in a crowd.

Emerald is a cut that provides a very elegant classy look and is known for its long lines.  The pavilion is cut with large rectangular facets to create an open effect or optical appearance.

Heart is known as the most romantic of all shaped diamonds.  The heart consists of 59 facets and is essentially a pear cut with a cleft at the top.

Marquise resembles the shape of a football when viewed from above.  The marquise is bright, clear, and has a great deal of sparkle.

Oval is an adaptation of the round brilliant and usually looks larger than the round brilliant of the same carat weight.

Pear is half oval and half marquise.  The pear has 58 facets and displays the brilliance, fire, and sparkle of the round brilliant.

Princess is square shaped with uncut pointed corners.  The princess has 58 facets and is known for its brilliance, fire, and sparkle.

Radiant has 70 facets and has the brilliance and fire of the round brilliant.  The radiant is square/rectangle in shape with cropped corners.

Diamond Certificates

A diamond certificate (aka – diamond plot, diamond grading report) is a document certifying a diamond is genuine and is created by a group of gemologists after the diamond is carefully evaluated.  The report contains information such as carat weight, color, clarity, proportions, and a cut grade for round diamonds.   The certificate also contains a “blueprint” of the diamond’s clarity characteristics.

To understand all aspects of the diamond grading report, click on the GIA link below:

http://www.gia.edu/lab-reports-services/diamonds/diamond-reports/index.html

To understand all aspects of the diamond anatomy, click on the GIA link below:

http://www.diamondcut.gia.edu/05_diamond_anatomy.html

diamonds

What is an Emerald Cut Diamond?

The Emerald cut diamond received its name when a diamond cutter chose to cut diamond rough in the shape of an Emerald using the same method as they would for cutting an Emerald shaped gemstone.  Emerald shapes are cut with “stepped” facets, which means the facets resemble steps on a staircase.

emerald cut diamondThe Emerald cut provides for a very elegant classic look and is known for its long lines.  The pavilion (bottom portion of the stone) is cut with large rectangular facets to create an open effect or optical appearance.

Since Emerald cut diamonds are designed with larger facets, you need to be sure that you are familiar with the qualities of a good cut.  Like the Asscher cut you always want to choose cut, color, and clarity over weight.  An Emerald diamond makes a beautiful engagement ring as a solitaire or set with other stones.

To learn more about Emerald cut diamonds visit our diamond education section

What is an Asscher Cut Diamond?

The Asscher cut diamond was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland and is a variation of an Emerald cut.  The Asscher cut is a stepped square cut also known as a Modified Square Emerald cut.   This cut offers a small table (largest facet on a stone) high crown (top portion of the stone) deep pavilions (lower portion of the stone), and cut corners.   With its 72 wide step facets it resembles that of an octagon and sparkles like the Round Brilliant.

The Asscher was designed to draw your eye to the center of the stone.  Because of this, cut, color, and clarity are very important factors to consider when choosing this cut.  Always purchase the best stone within your budget.  When choosing an Asscher weight should be the last thing you consider.

To learn more about Asscher cut diamonds visit our diamond education section

Asscher Cut Diamond

Three Stone Engagement Ring

Once known as an anniversary ring, three stone engagement rings have gained popularity over the past several years.  A three stone engagement ring represents a couple’s relationship – the past, the present, and the future.

The three stone engagement ring contains just that; 3 stones.  The traditional three stone design is a plain metal band with prong set white diamonds.  The diamonds are all the same shape and color with the center stone being slightly larger and set higher than the two side stones.

Today, three stone settings are available in a variety of designs.  While the traditional three stone is still extremely popular many couples are choosing settings with side stones of a different color or shape.  Prongs can be replaced with bezels and plain bands replaced with scroll work or small accent diamonds.

Creating a Three Stone Anniversary Ring Using Your Own Engagement Diamond

If you’re creating a three stone for an anniversary ring you have some options.

1. Use your engagement diamond as a side stone representing the past and choose a new center stone and second side stone as the present and the future.  The new center diamond should be slightly larger than the side stones.  When choosing new diamonds you’ll need to stay within the same color range if purchasing white diamonds.

2. Use your engagement diamond as the center stone and purchase two new side stones.

 

 

 

Types Of Wedding Bands to Wear With a Three Stone

You have some options here as well.  If you want to wear your three stone on the same hand as your wedding band or your right hand a five or seven stone wedding band or a diamond eternity ring will match perfectly.

diamond eternity ringdiamond eternity ring

 

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Diamond Color

Diamond color is one of the 4C’s and is a major factor in determining the quality and cost of a diamond.  Diamond color actually refers to the lack of color not the amount of color found in the diamond.  Diamonds composed of pure carbon are colorless and are extremely rare and costly.  Most diamonds contain nitrogen, boron, or hydrogen all of which impact color.  A majority of all diamonds sold on the market today contain traces of nitrogen that causes slight shades of yellow or brown.

In the 1950’s the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) instituted a color grading system to eliminate the confusion regarding diamond color that is still used industry wide today.  Diamonds are graded on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown).

Diamond Color Grade Chart

How to Choose a Diamond Color

D-E-F = colorless

G-H-I = near colorless

J-K-L-M = faint yellow

N-Z = very light to light yellow

Some key factors to consider when choosing a diamond color

Price – colorless diamonds are more rare and therefore costly.  A near colorless diamond provides a great value and looks beautiful with any metal type.

Cut – when a diamond is cut well the diamond’s color may appear whiter than it actually is disguising any color within the stone.

Size – the size of a diamond will affect the appearance of its color.  Color can be seen more easily in a larger diamond than a smaller one.  If choosing a diamond weight of 1.00ct or greater look for a diamond in the colorless (D-F) or near colorless (G-I) range.  If you prefer the warmth of a diamond with color choose a faint yellow (J-M) stone.  When choosing a diamond beyond the I color range you’ll want to consider your metal choice for the setting.  Some like the contrast between a white metal such as platinum, palladium, or white gold and the faint yellow tones of the diamond and some don’t want to see any color at all.  This is a personal preference and there is no right or wrong diamond color for any setting choice.

Shape – the shape of a diamond will affect color especially in a step-cut diamond such as an Asscher or Emerald.  With their large open facets they do not display the same amount of brilliance as other cuts and color can be easily seen through the table.

Learn more about the 4 C’s

Can you compare one diamond to another?

With shape, weight, and cut all being equal you can compare like diamonds in terms of color and clarity. Diamonds of the same clarity can differ quite a bit. Let’s take a SI1 clarity diamond for example. When looking at the diamond’s plot or at the diamond directly through at 10x loupe the clarity characteristics can be quite different and you’ll want to choose the one that is most appealing to you. Unless flawless, all diamonds will have clarity characteristics and only you can decide what you’ll be happy looking at each day. When comparing like diamonds I suggest looking at no more than 3 at one time. Keep narrowing it down always keeping your top choice each time.

Use our diamond comparison tool to find the perfect stone.

Who came up with the 2 month salary rule for engagement rings?

If you’ve heard about the two month salary rule you have probably heard about the three month salary rule as well. Both rules are a myth and not a fact. There is no set dollar amount or percentage on how much you should spend on an engagement ring. This is an individual decision that you’ll need to make. Like any large purchase, we suggest establishing a budget first before you even begin to start looking. Once you’re budget is established and you have been provided with all the options available within that budget you’ll then be able to make an informed decision on which ring is right for you and your significant other.

While we’re talking about myths there is one other to bring up here. Bigger is better – so untrue. When shopping for diamonds, size is not the first thing you should look for. The cut of a stone should be your priority followed by color, clarity, and then weight.

Talk to one of our Graduate Gemologists who will guide you through the shopping process and help you find the perfect fit. By phone 1-800-979-1910 or by email customerservice@since1910.com.