Most diamonds contain some hint of color. This is caused by the presence of nitrogen in the earth where they formed. Color grading for most diamonds is done on a scale of D to Z. A diamond with more color than a Z is a ‘fancy colored diamond’ and could be a different color like pink or blue. These ‘fancy colors’ are not graded on the same scale.
Common Grading Standards
The world’s largest labs are soft on color. Diamonds in most chain stores, malls and discount outlets have far more tint than diamonds sent to the stricter labs. This can give casual shoppers a false and negative first impression about warmer colors.
AGS and GIA Standards
The world’s best diamonds are sent to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gem Society (AGS). These labs employ strict and consistent standards. Diamonds with AGS and GIA reports command a higher premium and hold their value better than diamonds from softer labs.
Cut Influences Color
Diamonds in the D-Z scale are graded face-down, viewed through the side of the pavilion. This is because shape and cut quality both influence how light gets in and out of the diamond; grading face-down allows for a neutral assessment of body color. The brilliant cutting style is most efficient for returning light, so a round brilliant or princess may show less apparent color face-up than a step cut like an emerald or asscher.
Above-Average Cut Quality
When cut quality is above average, brilliants can “face up” with notably less color than the AGS or GIA color grade they were assigned, which was determined face-down. Why? Because light gets in and out.
Less Color Face Up
Diamonds cut to the highest level of performance have critical angles and precision-cutting so light gets in and out with the greatest intensity. Such high performance diamonds appear far more colorless than their laboratory cut grades. In live viewings buyers are shocked when we don’t disclose color and they choose a “favorite” diamond several grades below their previously imagined threshold.
Only a fraction of the world’s diamonds have such cut quality. When buyers are considering such cut quality we urge them to dismiss preconceptions and find the “perfect” diamond in a range of color that fits preference and budget; since diamonds of several adjacent color grades will be indistinguishable from one another.
Light getting in and out of the diamond does not illuminate body color the way light trapped inside the diamond does.