Updated January 19, 2023

Diamond Color Chart

Read more about Diamonds
Ad Disclosure: This article contains references to products from our partners. We may receive compensation if you apply or shop through links in our content. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site. You help support CreditDonkey by using our links. (read more)

What is the best color for diamonds? And how much does color affect the price? Read on for our diamond color chart and the rule of thumb for diamond buying.

What Is Diamond Color?

In gem jargon, color refers to how clear or yellow a diamond is. Truly colorless diamonds are the most prized, but they're actually super rare. In reality, most diamonds come with a slight yellowish tint caused by nitrogen.

To measure diamond color, labs use the Gemological Institute of America's (GIA) diamond color grading scale. Here, diamonds are given a grade from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow/brown). Between them are stones with yellow tints that range from near colorless to very visible.

While the scale goes all the way to Z, diamonds used in engagement rings usually fall within the D-K range. Anything above K is usually considered too yellow.

You won't usually notice a huge visible difference between different color grades. But the gulf in price is huge. That's why you can often find the best value in near colorless stones, especially H-J.

You'll understand this better when you see the diamond color chart.

Why does the GIA color grading scale start with D?
Before the GIA made its scale, other gem color systems were in place. This included scales that used letters A, B, and C to mark quality. To avoid confusing buyers, the GIA started with D. It's not a letter you'd usually equate with top quality and associate with other scales.

Diamond Color Chart

The GIA divides its color scale into 5 groups:

  • D, E, F (Colorless)
    These diamonds are super rare. D is absolutely colorless. E and F are considered colorless because only an expert gemologist can detect tiny, tiny traces of color. There is no visible difference among these diamonds.

    Colorless diamonds come at a much higher price. If you like knowing you've got the best, you may not mind paying the premium, as long as you understand that it's not necessary.

  • G, H, I, J (Near Colorless)
    A slight yellow tint can be detected by an expert gemologist. However, the average person most likely will not be able to see it in G, H, and I diamonds. They look just as white as colorless diamonds.

    At the J grade, the tint becomes a bit more apparent when compared to a diamond of higher color grade. But they offer great value, especially if you prefer a warmer look to your jewelry.

  • K, L, M (Faint)
    A yellow color is more noticeable at this point, even without comparing to another diamond. Usually, online retailers don't sell diamonds for engagement rings less than a K. But K diamonds are beautiful when set in yellow or rose gold.

  • N–R (Very Light)
    Very noticeable yellow tint and looks like a poor quality diamond, even to an untrained eye.

  • S–Z (Light)
    Color at this range can start to have a brown tint. Needless to say, there is very little demand for these.

Does Diamond Color Matter?

Many people think that a whiter diamond will appear more brilliant. But this is NOT true.

Color refers to the yellow tint commonly seen in white diamonds. It has absolutely nothing to do with how shiny or sparkly a diamond is. Cut is the factor that affects brilliance, so that should be of highest importance.

Most people cannot tell the difference between colorless and near colorless diamonds. But the price difference is huge. So put your money instead towards a better cut or bigger stone or fancier setting (things that people CAN see).

That said, color still contributes to the overall beauty of ring. So let's take a detailed look at diamond color and what to look for.

Bottom Line Recommendations:
  • D–G diamonds are priced at a premium and are not necessary. But should you choose one, it should only be set in platinum or white gold.
  • H–I diamonds are the best value for platinum and white gold rings.
  • J–K diamonds are most affordable and look great set in yellow gold or rose gold rings.

Diamond Color and Price

The difference in price as you go up and down color grades is truly staggering. The price difference between H color grade and D could jump over $1,000. And there is no visible difference to the casual observer. So don't waste your money just to buy something that looks better on a piece of paper.

Which diamond color is the best value?

For the best value for your money, we recommend H color grade. H is commonly thought of as the tipping point between colorless diamonds and diamonds with a slightly noticeable tint. It appears perfectly white to most people. H is a safe choice for any diamond shape and color metal.

Diamond Color and Setting

The color of your setting makes a big impact on how white the diamond appears too.

A diamond will naturally pick up the color of its surroundings (in this case, the band). If set in a yellow gold band, even the most colorless, iciest of diamonds will take on a warmer, yellowish tint. So it'll be a waste of money to spend the premium on a colorless stone.

Here are some very important rules to go by:

  • D–G diamonds should only be set in platinum or white gold in order to appreciate the icy color.

  • H–I diamonds are great value and can be set in any band color.

  • J–K diamonds look great in yellow/rose gold bands. They will appear yellow against platinum/white gold.

If you're examining diamonds in person at a store and not sure whether a diamond will appear yellow (without all that bright store lighting), here's a trick you can do.

Fold a pure white business card in half and place the diamond in the crease. Look at it away from the spotlights. If you see any yellow at all, it will also appear yellow when set in white gold or platinum. This diamond is most likely at best a J or K.

Diamond Color and Shapes

The shape of your diamond also plays a role. Some shapes hide color better. And some shapes are more likely to display the yellow tint, so it's more important to choose a higher color grade.

Here's the general rule of thumb:

  • Round
    Most brilliant and, therefore, best at masking color. Focus on getting the best cut instead. With an excellent cut, you can get away with a diamond lower in color.

  • Princess, Cushion, and Radiant
    These shapes show more color than round. We recommend no less than H or I for a colorless look.

  • Oval, Pear, and Marquise
    These diamonds have pointed ends that trap color. Go no less than H for platinum/white gold rings, and J for yellow/rose gold rings.

  • Emerald and Asscher
    These diamonds have a large open table straight into the depth of the stone. Thus, they display color more. Go no less than H for platinum/white gold rings, and J for yellow/rose gold rings.

Diamond Color and Fluorescence

Fluorescence is another factor that affects diamond color, but often in a good way.

Fluorescence is when a diamond shows a soft glow under UV light (usually blue). This is caused by certain minerals in the diamond. This effect is totally natural, appearing in one-third of all diamonds.

Here's how it can help: Fluorescence improves the color of diamonds with lower color grades (H and below). A medium-to-strong blue fluorescence counteracts the slight yellow tint and makes it look whiter—usually by one whole color grade.

This means you can save money by buying a lower-grade diamond with fluorescence, and have it appear whiter.

Usually, fluorescence has no negative effect for diamonds H and lower. However, for high-grade diamonds, it could cause cloudiness. Stay away from diamonds with Medium-Very Strong fluorescence if the diamond is G or above.

Fancy Colored Diamond

Diamonds can fall outside the D-Z color scale and become fancy-colored. There are two scenarios: one, they have very intense yellow or brown hues that exceed the Z color grade. Two, they have colors other than yellow and brown, like gorgeous reds, pinks, and blues.

Fancy-colored diamonds are super rare, appearing in only 1 out of 10,000 diamonds. Some colors are harder to come by, with the rarest being red diamonds. They're so rare that the GIA wasn't able to find a single red diamond for 30 years.

You'll be surprised how much fancy color diamonds cost. And yep, we have their extreme rarity to blame.

Want a fancy-colored diamond but can't afford its price tag? You won't believe how much cheaper fancy-colored lab diamonds are. This 1 carat blue lab diamond costs just $2,630. That's a lot cheaper than the blue natural diamond you just saw, and it's even higher quality.

READ: Lab-Diamonds: Real Diamonds For Cheaper Price?

Final Tips About Color

  • Always focus on cut first
    The cut of the diamond (proportion, symmetry, and polish) makes the biggest impact on how bright, and therefore "white," the diamond appears. A lower color but well-cut diamond will appear brighter than a poorly cut, colorless diamond. So we always recommend putting your money towards a better cut than a higher color grade.

  • Matching side stones
    If your ring setting has side stones (like the three-stone style), it's important that the center stone at least matches the color of the side stones. You do NOT want your main stone to appear yellow. Usually, sites like James Allen will tell you the color of the side stones.

    Single stone settings (like solitaire) don't have to worry about this.

  • Larger stones
    Larger diamonds will show more color, since the facets are larger. If you're purchasing a large diamond 2 carats or over, you'll also want to upgrade the color a grade higher than our recommendations.

Bottom Line

Diamond color is not as important, but it does still affect the overall beauty of the ring. The average person can't tell the difference between colorless and near colorless diamonds, so there's no point splurging on a feature you can't see.

If you're not sure, H is a safe choice for any shape and band color. It offers great value in terms of price and beauty. For yellow gold and rose gold rings, you can save even more money by going down to J or K.

First think about what kind of setting and diamond shape you want. Then you can follow our guidelines to choose the best color for your ring.

Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Get Diamond Shopping Tricks That Jewelers Don't Want You to Know
Best Places to Buy Lab Created Diamonds

Best Places to Buy Lab Created Diamonds

Here are the best places to buy high-quality lab diamonds. See how popular diamond retailers like James Allen, Brilliant Earth, and more compare.

Next Page:

About CreditDonkey
CreditDonkey is a diamond jeweler comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

About Us | Reviews | Deals | Tips | Privacy | Do Not Sell My Info | Terms | Contact Us
(888) 483-4925 | 680 East Colorado Blvd, 2nd Floor | Pasadena, CA 91101
© 2024 CreditDonkey Inc. All Rights Reserved.