Engagement Rings

The 4Cs of Diamond Buying: Color

The second “C” that factors into your diamond purchase is Color.

Diamonds come in all sorts of colors, but unless you are going for something non-traditional, you will be looking for a clear, or colorless, stone. (If you want to look into a blue, brown, pink or black diamond, check out the topic of colored diamonds here).

When it comes to clear diamonds, “color” actually refers to lack of color. Confusing? Think of it like golf. In golf, the lower your score the better. In diamonds, the less color the better.

When the jeweler you’re working with starts to talk about “color,” he or she means the degree to which the diamond is clear. The highest value diamonds are completely colorless, and they decrease in value as they move towards a pale yellow.

Different associations have different scales for measuring a stone’s color.

The GIA goes from D to Z, D being completely clear, Z being one step away from “fancy yellow” (what happened to A, B, C? No idea. Maybe those diamonds are so clear you can’t even see them.)

Bottom line: Color grade affects price. You can see it with your own eyes at James Allen , where you can literally spin the diamond around 360 degrees.

The American Gem Society uses a number scale, from zero (totally clear) to 10 (almost fancy yellow).

But all of the scales basically break down into 5 categories:

Colorless;  Near Colorless; Faint Color; Very Light Color; Light Color.

Simple right? No, not simple. Don’t be ridiculous.

Colorless diamonds are rarer, and therefore more expensive. That doesn’t mean you have to get one, or even want one. There are all sorts of considerations to take into account.

An appraiser won’t grade a stone that is already in a ring, because the color of the setting will affect how the diamond looks. You have to keep that same thing in mind when considering what stone to buy.

If the ring is going to be made out of yellow gold, for instance, the stone will appear slightly more yellow on your fiancé’s finger. So you probably want to stay away from the “very light” or “light color” categories.

On the other hand, if you’re getting a white gold ring, then you might be able to go with a stone from the “nearly colorless” or “faint color” categories, which will be cheaper than a completely colorless stone and look exactly the same to the naked eye.

Finally, there’s the matter of taste. Some people actually prefer a little yellow in their stone, as it casts a warmer light, while others want pure ice. One more thing to look for when researching your fiancé’s style.

Bottom Line

Think of the diamond’s color as the spectrum from Betty to Veronica: on one end is Betty (warm, sunny, open) and one end is Veronica (cool, sophisticated, mysterious). Then think where your fiancé fits on that spectrum and you’re good to go.

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