The Secrets of Grading Diamond Color

Color is one of the most difficult and nuanced aspects of diamond grading. Diamonds naturally come in an infinitesimal gradient of hue and saturation, but for practical purposes, GIA uses an alphabetical scale from D-Z to measure colorlessness in diamonds (colored diamonds are graded separately). The trick to grading diamond color is to find out what the actual color of the diamond crystal is, not the color of the light the diamond is reflecting. This is tricky given how refractive diamonds are, but not impossible.

The viewing box above is designed for grading diamond color, every aspect of its design from the lighting, distance from light, viewing angle and background color are meant to mitigate the influence of the environment on the diamond’s color.  Diamonds are also graded face down, with the point or culet tilted away, steering as much reflected light clear of the viewer’s eyes.

GIA also grades color by comparison to a set of known color diamonds called master stones. It is incredibly difficult to put together a full and accurate set of master stones, but once put together they provide graders a bedrock to measure other stones against.

From a jeweler’s perspective, the importance of diamond color depends on the type of jewelry it’s being set into, and ultimately the buyer’s preferences. A slightly yellower  diamond might look just fine set in yellow gold or surrounded by colored stones. A stark white gold solitaire, on the other hand, probably warrants a white stone.

Whatever color you’re looking for in a diamond, at Oceanside Jewelers, we have a wide selection of GIA certified diamonds, along with a GIA graduate gemologist on staff to help you make the best diamond decision possible!

for more info, check out our custom design diamond page!

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