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Diamond 4C’s: Diamond Color

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The D-Z’s of Diamond Color & bonus buying and selling tips

Gems come in a variety of colors and diamonds are no exception. When you think of color, you think of blues, greens, reds, and purples and while diamonds do come in those colors, most diamond colors you’ll see will be anywhere from white, or clear, to yellow. The clearer the diamond’s color the more valuable it becomes. If it has less color, it means it is more pure both chemically and structurally down to the atomic level.

The Diamond Color Grading Scale

Diamond color grades go on a simple scale created by GIA from D to Z; D being “ Colorless” and Z being “Light” most of the time presenting as yellow. Each color is a slight shade of difference from the next but can make a difference in the price of more than 15% each shade it goes up or down. Trained experts can tell shades apart but for most people, they have been separated into five groups of color saturation, “Colorless” for D-F, “Near Colorless” for G-J, “Faint” for K-M “Very Light” for N-R and “Light” for S-Z. Below, we’ll look into what each grouping means for you and how it translates into price when you buy or sell a diamond.

Diamond colors are for reference only.

Colorless: D-F

“Colorless”, the clearest and purest of diamond colors, are the most sought after and expensive diamonds in the market. These diamonds contain little to no trace elements in the diamond leaving them close to pure carbon. These diamonds will be colorless as water or fine crystal and command a high value and premium over other colors. These diamonds are best accentuated in white gold or platinum jewelry to emphasize its purity.

Near Colorless: G-J

The “Near Colorless” spectrum in diamonds are the most common color diamonds you see in jewelry. The reason for this is that, when set, it faces up very white even in white gold rings. These colors while facing up white are cheaper than the “colorless” grades of diamonds and offer you the biggest bang for your buck when buying diamond jewelry. They also hold their value reasonably well when it comes time to sell your diamond,  if you buy it properly.

Faint: K-M

When looking at “Faint” colored diamonds, most people will notice a slight amount of color which most of the time will be yellow but can present as other colors (see below). These diamonds, while still able to maintain a sparkle ,aren’t well suited to be placed in white gold rings. The best settings to place “Faint” colored diamonds are yellow or rose gold settings. These diamonds are better suited for lower budgets where the color of the diamond and the setting is less important or where yellow is preferred.

Very Light: N-R

These “Very Light” Diamonds won’t seem very light to you. These diamonds are very obviously tinted with color. Most of the time these diamonds won’t be sold online as customers have a high dissatisfaction rate with them. These diamonds are usually better for those who prize size over color. These diamonds are best not set in white settings. “Very Light” diamonds don’t tend to command a high price and have an even lower resale value.

Light: S-Z

The most colored of the white color spectrum, “Light” colored diamonds offer the greatest value for those who aren’t concerned with color. If “Light” colored diamonds are set in the correct setting, they can give the illusion that they are actually fancy colored diamonds (see below for more). When you place one of these diamonds in a yellow basket,  the stone faces up with with vibrancy. The secret of these colorful colorless stones is that they didn’t quite make the cut to “Fancy Light”. Diamonds at this level are already pretty yellow so you might be tempted to call one a yellow stone but it isn’t quite a fancy color. Anywhere between 1 and 8 shades of difference makes the difference between these “light” diamonds and fancy colored diamonds. While these diamonds may be a bargain in the store and provide some with cheap access to fancy color-looking diamonds, they don’t hold a large resale value.

Fancy Colors

So what happens when you get beyond Z? Once you pass Z, it goes onto the Fancy Diamond Color scale. Fancy Diamond Colors come in all colors of the rainbow and a few that aren’t. When looking at how “Fancy” a “Fancy Color” diamond is, a few things come into play. First, there is Hue or the color of the diamond like red, green, or blue. Next is the Saturation, which is how vibrantly the color shows in the diamond. Lastly there is Tone which indicates how light or dark the color is. Valuable color diamonds will present strongly in all three, making them worth significant sums of money.

Tinges

So you thought you knew all there was to know about diamond color? Well it’s not so black and white [or white to yellow.] Within the colorless spectrum, tinges exist. Most diamonds will have tinges and tints of yellow but there are a few others and they can hurt the value of your diamond. If your diamond isn’t tinted yellow but brown, green, or gray, it not only cheapens the value but can look dirty or even hurt the luster of the diamond. The most confusing part is that on paper, diamonds tinted yellow, brown, green or gray can be the same and hold the same color grade even though they aren’t the same color! These differences can make you think you’re getting the bargain of a lifetime, even though in reality you’ll be getting less than what you paid for.

Fluorescence

Just when you thought that diamond color couldn’t be any more nuanced, there’s another curveball as fluorescence gets thrown into the mix. Fluorescence can have a surprising effect on the color of a diamond. If the diamond has a profound level of fluorescence, it can cause it to appear whiter. For diamonds in the color range of I to M, it can reduce the appearance of the color. This fluorescence comes at a cost though. If there is too much fluorescence, then it can cause haziness in the diamond, but this is only in stronger levels.

Buying & Selling tips

So now that you have all this theoretical knowledge on color, you ask yourselve: “How does it apply to me buying or selling my diamond?”  Well, here are a few practical applications to help you along the decision-making process when buying your diamond.

What's best diamond color grade for your buck?

If you want a diamond that can go into any setting at the best value, the best choice for color is “I”. “I” color diamonds are white enough to be placed into a white setting while providing you the cheapest option. These color diamonds are known as a “commercial” diamond color as it has the most appeal to the most people, including people who are thrifty and in search of a deal.

What's the best diamond color for the size I'm looking at?

If you’re looking at a diamond under a carat, it’s ok to be a little looser with your standards for its color. You’ll derive the most value with I-J color, so you can focus on a larger carat size or a better clarity. When a diamond under 1 carat is set in a ring at this color level it will look shades whiter. Now when looking at over 1 carat, you’ll want to be at either G or H color at least. The reason for getting better color as you go up in carat weight is that the larger the diamond, the more obvious its color is. Even when set in a ring, if you opt to put lower colors such as J or K, the color in the diamond will be apparent to even an untrained eye. When choosing your color stick to whiter so your diamond is brighter.

What color should I choose for the shape of diamond I want?

When looking at the shape of your diamond, color comes into play. Shapes with more facets can get away with having lower color grades. These shapes include Round, Princess, Cushion, Oval and other modified brilliant cuts. These cuts due to having more facets will reflect more light, as opposed to color. If you’re considering step cuts, such as Emerald or Ascher, consider higher diamond color grades for the whitest appearance.

What color should I get for the ring I want?

You have your heart set on a ring but are more flexible about the diamond. If color is of less importance to you than other aspects, there are some rules you should follow to make sure you get the best-looking diamond for your ring. If your ring is white like white gold or platinum, you should stay away from lower colors. Go to I color at most. This will ensure your diamond does not appear yellow inside the ring. If you get a yellow or rose gold setting you have much more leeway in terms of color. The yellow or rose appearance of the ring will make your diamond look whiter by contrast. Here you can go as high as J or K and still maintain a white appearance.

What if I get two color grades?

If you receive two diamond color grades such as “J-K” or “O-P” this means that the diamond is likely uncertified, and that the seller is likely just using the GIA scale and not an actual GIA grade. We recommend you get your diamonds certified. To read more on the importance of certification click here.

 

White or Yellow, Green or Red, or anything in between diamond color will make a huge difference in the look of your ring and the value of your diamond. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your diamond, it’s important to know what color it is and how much you can get for it. Vasco Assets is here to help you determine the value of your diamond ring and to help you make informed decisions when selling.

Vasco Promise

Vasco Assets believes that a knowledgeable consumer is a better consumer.  We are proud to present the straight-talk about luxury commodity assets of all types, including diamonds. If you have any questions or would like more information about anything you’ve read, please reach out to us.

About Vasco Assets:

Vasco Assets is a private licensed, fully insured, and bonded financial firm with business interests worldwide, specializing in luxury commodity assets. Located in Newport Beach, CA, Vasco Assets provides Financial Flexibility and Security by buying and lending against luxury assets, unlocking the inherent value and converting the assets to funds, offering a variety of innovative collateral loan programs to both individuals and businesses. Vasco also provides Access to Luxury by making luxury available to their clients well below wholesale and manufacturing by virtue of diamond production in India and Israel, jewelry manufacturing in Los Angeles and worldwide networks.  Vasco offers programs to Build and Maintain Wealth, through diamond commodity investment programs, taking advantage of the hedge opportunities inherent in commodities.  By virtue of their diamond production, these investment grade stones are offered at commodity pricing, eliminating the mark-ups of wholesale and retail pricing.

For more information or to inquire about any of Vasco Assets’ high-value services, please call 855.285.7059 or email info@vascoassets.com

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