Diamond Color Scale


It seems like everyone is coveting and talking about fancy yellow and pink diamonds these days but I am always appalled at how few people know about the color scale of white diamonds.  This is a basic building block of jewelry connoisseurship my darlings that one cannot overlook.  White diamonds fall in a D to Z color range with D being the most colorless and Z having the most color–Z diamonds are obviously yellow or grey to the naked eye but keep in mind that such diamonds are not considered fancy colors.  Fancy colored diamonds are those that have more color than Z and have their own color scale.

Diamond Color Scale

D color is the most coveted because it is the purest and most crisp diamond color.  Diamonds in the D-J color range look white from their face-up position.  One can detect yellow in the G-J color range only face down (with the pointed end, called the culet, facing up) looking through the pavilion (looking at a perpendicularly through the longest edge of the diamond).  K, L and M diamonds are yellow or grey face up and face down; any diamond color below M is unmistakably not white.

For the engagement ring buyer, it is always wise to go for the highest color that your budget allows for without sacrificing the size you have your heart set on.  So many of the celebrity engagement rings, the 20 carat whoppers, are H-J colored and it always makes me wonder why they didn’t just go for a stunning 5 carat D flawless?  There is nothing wrong with H-J colored diamonds mind you, but if it’s within your budget, who  in their right mind would want 20 mediocre carats when you can have 5 pristine carats of diamond for the same price?  Warped priorities make for bad investments.

For those who are looking to simulate the look of a yellow diamond on a restricted budget, look for an X, Y or Z color but make sure the clarity is VS1 or better.  It’s a sneaky little loop-hole.  You are buying a diamond that looks yellow to the naked eye and if you have an excellent jeweler, he or she can make it look more yellow with a clever setting thus giving you the look of a fancy colored diamond for considerably less.  Keep in mind though that an X, Y or Z color is not a fancy colored diamond so while it may look marvelous after it’s set, it is not going to retain value as well as an actual fancy colored diamond.  Why VS1 clarity or better?  Because a diamond in the lower color ranges that also has poor clarity is just a shoddy diamond.  If you are going to sacrifice color for an intended effect, you have to make up the difference in clarity and symmetry in order to retain some aspects of the diamond’s fire and brilliance, otherwise you’re just buying an unattractive diamond.

Diamond Color Scale

Jean & Alex, yellow diamond ring.  Available by private order.

For a quick tutorial on diamond shapes, read “Diamond Shapes 101.”  Have a question? Leave me a comment or contact me at blog@delivermediamonds.com.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,



  1. phatnancy says:

    Jean, can you do a blog post on pink diamonds. I just purchased one and am unhappy with the results, I asked the jeweler for a pink within a certain Argyle color scale and didn’t receive it. I didn’t pay too much for it because it was a small diamond but am very unhappy with it. I don’t want this experience to happen to anyone else.

    1. Of course I will. How terrible for you to have a negative experience with your first pink! Just to clarify, you asked for a pink with a specific color on the Argyle color scale and what he/she delivered wasn’t the color that you wanted? Or was it something else?

  2. janet says:

    Thats one gorgeous ring! WOW!!!! LOVE….. btw the necklace is square cubes on a chain. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Love this post. I got engaged in Feb and I made sure to school my fiance on diamonds and decided what color and Clairty was best for his budget. Every girl should know a tidbit about diamonds. I’m now a new follower to your blog. Check out my blog and join:

    Twitter – @StyleDeLaCreme

    1. A big congrats on your engagement!

      Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,