Diamond color is a Fancy Colored Diamond’s most significant characteristic. In fact, unlike a colorless diamond where the 4C's (carat weight, clarity, color, and cut) are all equally important to the overall value, the color characteristic plays the most important role in the value of the diamond.
With white diamonds the absence of color is what makes the diamonds so precious. However, in the case of fancy colored diamonds, the presence of color and the intensity of how it shines is specifically what increase the value of the stones.
A Leibish & Co. Collection of Yellow, Pink, Blue, and Green Diamonds
Most of the natural fancy color diamonds found are not a single or pure color. Some diamonds have a combination of two, three, and sometimes even four colors within the composition of the stone.
A mix of Natural Fancy Color Diamonds
The white diamond grading system measures the amount of color present in the stone (or actually the absence of color), and breaks it down into six definitive categories.
The white diamond grading scale
The combination between white diamonds and yellow diamonds start from close to the end of the white diamond color grade scale.
In fact, the very end of the white diamond color scale is where the fancy colored diamond color scale begins. The last two groups in the white diamond color scale are referred to as Cape diamonds, which are actually Very Faint or Very Light Yellow or Brown Diamonds.
Learn more about Yellow Diamonds and Brown Diamonds.
However, Fancy Colored Diamonds are graded on a different scale altogether. As opposed to single letter grades, colored diamonds are referred to by the actual colors within the stone.
When assessing a fancy colored diamond, there are two major characteristics that define the color of the stone.
Defining the Color of a Diamond
There are twelve different main fancy colors. Colored diamonds can contain one single pure color or be combined with one, two, or even three overtones.
The 12 different main colors of Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds
From left to right - Yellow, Pink, Blue, Green, Orange, Brown, Violet, Gray, Purple, Red, Fancy Black, and Fancy White
Learn more about Defining the Color of a Diamond
Defining the Intensity of a Diamond
The intensity of the color is described as how strong the color is shown in the diamond. The color can be anywhere between a soft whisper to a strong vivid shade. GIA developed an intensity scale to properly define the intensity level of the diamond.
Learn more about Defining the Intensity of a Diamond.
Though the carat weight, the cut, and the clarity are all extremely important factors of the diamond quality, the color and intensity of the diamond are the most relevant characteristics with regards to the value of the stone.
The image shows the different intensity levels of Pink, Blue, and Green diamonds.
From left to right: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid and Fancy Deep
History of Color Grading
The fancy colored diamond grading scale was developed by the GIA in the mid-1970s. With the growth in popularity of fancy colors, the industry required some sort of a standardized list in order to better define and understand the stones. Unlike colorless diamonds, because there are so many color combinations available, the decision was made to grade natural fancy colored diamonds with a description as opposed to a letter.
Shmulik Polnauer, Leibish & Co. GG GIA, assessing the color of a 1.68carat, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond
White stones, on the other hand, are graded on an alphabetic scale. Many years ago people used various color grading systems including Roman and Arabic numerals to grade their diamonds. Others used an 'A, B, and C' scale where 'AA' and 'AAA' would have been given to higher grade stones. In 1953, a man named Richard T. Liddicoat, from the GIA (The Gemological Institute of America), developed a standardized grading scale that measured colorless stones from 'D-Z.' The letter 'D' was chosen as an appropriate start for the scale as not to confuse it with 'A' that existed prior. Also, since it was the first letter in the word 'diamond,' it seemed to fit its position.
The greatest thing about diamond color is that it never fades. A diamond can be stored for years, and other than simply wiping the diamond clean it will sparkle as much as it did the day it was first polished. Diamonds really are forever.
Contributor: Benji Margolese