Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Diamonds come in every color found in the rainbow and more, including red, purple, black, brown, blue, and so on. When discussing diamonds for engagement rings we are talking about white diamonds. The whiter a diamond is the rarer and more sought after it becomes.
White diamonds are graded on a color scale ranging from D-Z with D being completely white. As you go down the scale, white diamonds will start to display either traces of yellow or brown (most often yellow). However, that doesn’t mean an H color diamond is yellow. An H color diamond actually falls in to the category of near colorless.
Diamonds that are D, E, or F color are considered colorless. What this means is that you will have a very hard time seeing any trace of yellow within these stones. These diamonds tend to be rare and their price reflects that rarity. However, the average consumer doesn’t need to buy a colorless diamond in order to obtain a stone that shows very little hints of yellow. In fact, you will pay a premium for these diamonds and the cost/benefit isn’t always worth it.
Most customers prefer diamonds that are in the near colorless range or those with a color grade of G, H, I, or J. Diamonds that fall into this category are called near colorless for a reason. When gemologists grade diamonds, they do so with them flipped upside down in order to view the color through the pavilion of the diamond. This allows them to have a vantage point of grading color without the obstruction and distraction of fire, brilliance, and scintillation. “Face-up” (an industry term when a diamond is displayed in the traditional way with table facet on top) it will be very hard for an average person and even a trained professional to be able to distinguish between a G color diamond set side-by-side with an F color diamond. Of course as we move down the scale those face-up color differences become more apparent, but the truth is the diamond you choose will more than likely never be compared side to side with other diamonds. Once in the ring it is viewed all on its own. However, the price difference between an F color and a G color can be 10-15% or more and the price difference between an F color and an H color can be 25-35%.
Unless you prefer a yellower, or often referred to as a warmer, diamond then you will want to stay in the realm of J or better for color. Diamonds past this point will usually display traces of yellow that can easily be seen with the naked eye. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, and these exceptions also will apply to the grades D-J. The first exception is the shape of the diamond. A K color round brilliant diamond that is cut extremely well can face-up white. A round brilliant diamond that is cut well will always appear whiter than the other shapes, which industry people refer to as “fancy shapes.” No matter how well an emerald, radiant, princess, etc. shape is cut you will always see yellow if is a K color. Therefore, no matter if it is a G or an I color diamond you will always be able to get away with a little more color if your shape of choice is a round brilliant.
The other exception to this rule is the type of setting the diamond will be set in. This includes whether it is platinum, white gold, or yellow gold and also the style of the setting. Diamonds tend to soak up and absorb whatever their surroundings are. Diamonds that are set in platinum or white gold will appear whiter than those in yellow gold. You will also want to make sure your jeweler matches the diamond side stones to the color of the center stone. For example, let’s say you have picked out a very nice and near colorless J color center stone. Your girlfriend tells you she wants a halo style setting which consists of diamonds encircling the center stone. That J color center stone, which appears relatively white on its own, can have its color extremely amplified if you happen to use side stones that are F-G color.