Diamonds 101: The Four Cs – Color

“My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.” – Elizabeth Taylor

Carrie Underwood’s new husband, NHL hockey player Mike Fisher, gave her a gorgeous yellow diamond engagement ring back in December 2009. A round brilliant cut of at least 5 carats, the yellow flawless diamond is said to be worth $150,000. The tiny diamonds in the band and setting bring the total up to 12 carats or more. What a fabulous custom-designed ring by Jonathon Arndt, jeweler to the stars! Carrie has worn his jewelry at several awards shows.


Colored or “fancy” diamonds are very popular with those with bags of money to spend, but most of us regular folks must choose from a wider and more affordable selection of colorless diamonds.

Gemologists grade the color of a cut diamond before it is put in a setting using the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) scale below. The setting can affect the colour. For example, a gold setting will enhance a yellow tint. The highest grade, and therefore more expensive, diamonds are graded D-E-F.

D-E-F  Colorless

G-H-I-J  Nearly colorless

K-L-M  Faintly tinted, usually yellow

N-O-P-Q-R  Lightly tinted, usually yellow. Tint can be seen with the naked eye.

S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z  Tinted, usually yellow, may progress to brownish. Tint visible to the naked eye.

But say you want a trendy colored diamond like this pink emerald cut. What should you consider?


First, fancy diamonds come in a range of colors and are quite rare and expensive. Naturally-colored diamonds are labelled “fancy colored” diamonds. The most affordable are the yellow diamonds because they are relatively more plentiful.

Second, buyers need to be wary of color-treated diamonds passed off as genuine yellow, pink, blue, or other colored diamonds. Key words to watch for are “tinted” or “color-treated”. Tinted diamonds may have a yellowish tint but are graded at the bottom of the GIA A-Z scale for colorless diamonds. That is, they are not considered to be fancy colored diamonds. Color-treated means the color has been artificially enhanced through special treatments.


Fancy colored diamonds are graded on a different GIA scale.


If you are comparison shopping, the web site provides excellent guidance on selecting a colored diamond. Beautiful photos accompany the article. It’s worth a visit.

Colored or white – what’s your preference?

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