Going Beyond the Alphabet: Understanding Diamond Color Grades from D to Z

When it comes to choosing a diamond, understanding its colour grade is essential. The colour of a diamond significantly impacts its appearance and value. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of diamond colour grades, from the rarest and most valuable to the more budget-friendly options. Whether you’re an aspiring diamond connoisseur or simply looking for the perfect engagement ring, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need.

The GIA Diamond Color Scale

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed the industry-standard diamond colour scale. This scale ranges from D (completely clear) to Z (warm yellowish tint). Let’s explore each colour grade in detail.

D, E and F - The Rarest of Diamond Grades

D, E and F are the rarest of diamonds. They show no colours, and face up extremely white.

  • D Color Diamonds (Absolutely Colorless):
    • D is the highest colour grade, representing diamonds with nearly no colour.
    • These diamonds appear colourless both under magnification and to the naked eye.
    • Typically set in platinum or white gold settings to enhance their uncoloured beauty.
    • D-colour diamonds are the rarest and most expensive on the market.
  • E Color Diamonds (Colorless):
    • E-colour diamonds are almost indistinguishable from D-colour diamonds.
    • Differences in colour between D and E diamonds are visible only to expert gemologists using magnification.
    • Like D-colour diamonds, they are often set in platinum or white gold.
  • F Color Diamonds (Colorless):
    • F colour diamonds closely resemble D and E colour diamonds.
    • Even side by side, they appear almost identical to the naked eye.
    • These diamonds maintain their near-flawless colour and are highly sought after.

G-H Color Diamonds (Near Colourless)

G and H colour diamonds are white showing no colours, extremely lively in appearance. Next to a D-colour diamond, they will show a tint of colour, however with no whiter diamonds to compare them to, they face up extremely white. Let’s explore their characteristics:

  • G Color Diamonds:
    • These diamonds exhibit minimal colour, noticeable only to trained professionals or when compared side by side with higher-grade diamonds.
    • G-colour diamonds are versatile and suitable for various jewellery settings.
    • They often appear stunning in both white gold and yellow gold settings.
    • If you’re seeking a nearly colourless diamond without breaking the bank, G colour is an excellent choice.
  • H Color Diamonds:
    • H colour diamonds remain nearly colourless to the naked eye.
    • They offer an appealing balance between affordability and quality.
    • Popular for engagement rings, H colour diamonds provide an elegant and timeless look.
    • Consider H colour diamonds if you want a beautiful stone that doesn’t compromise on value.

I-J Color Diamonds (Near Colorless)

Moving down the scale, we encounter I and J colour diamonds. I and J colour diamonds show a definite tint of yellow or brown. More so in fancy shapes than in round diamonds because the pointed edges in fancy diamonds show more concentration of the hue.

  • I Color Diamonds:
    • I colour diamonds show slight warmth, especially when compared to higher grades.
    • However, they are still considered nearly colourless for practical purposes.
    • Ideal for budget-conscious buyers who appreciate quality without the premium price.
    • I colour diamonds can be set in various metals, including white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.
  • J Color Diamonds:
    • J colour diamonds have a faint hint of colour.
    • This colour becomes visible only when directly compared to higher-grade diamonds.
    • Despite their slight warmth, J colour diamonds offer excellent value.
    • If you’re looking for a balance between affordability and appearance, J colour is worth considering.

K-Z Color Diamonds (Faint to Light Yellow)

As we venture further down the scale, we encounter diamonds with noticeable colour. K, L and M colour diamonds are quite common and therefore are very affordable, fantastic for people who prefer size over colour.

N – Z colours diamonds show a strong concentration of yellow or brown. Once a diamond falls out of the alphabetical order, it’s considered to be fancy in colour. Dark oranges, canary yellow, vivid pink, red, blue and green are all colours that occur in diamonds which is due to a trace element other than carbon present in the carbon atom of the diamond.

  • K, L, and M Color Diamonds:
    • These diamonds fall into the faint yellow category.
    • While they exhibit more colour than the previous grades, they can still be attractive.
    • K, L, and M diamonds are budget-friendly options.
    • Consider them for jewellery pieces where colour is less critical.
  • N-Z Color Diamonds:
    • N-Z diamonds have noticeable yellow or brown tones.
    • They are less desirable for most buyers seeking colourless stones.
    • However, some individuals appreciate the warmth and uniqueness of these diamonds.
    • N-Z diamonds are often set in yellow gold or vintage-style settings.

Value and Price Considerations

  • D-F (Colorless): These diamonds command a premium due to their complete lack of colour. Prices start from around $6,000 for a 1-carat diamond.
  • G-J (Near Colorless): Offering excellent value, near-colourless diamonds start at approximately $5,000 for a 1-carat diamond.
  • K-Z (Faint to Light Yellow): These diamonds are more budget-friendly but may not appeal to those seeking colourless stones.

Expert Tips

  • Aim for a diamond that appears colourless to the naked eye without breaking the bank.
  • Consider near-colourless diamonds (G-J) for optimal value.
  • Always consult a reputable jeweller and request a GIA certificate for accurate colour grading.


Understanding diamond colour grades empowers you to make an informed choice. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or investing in a timeless piece, choose a diamond that reflects your style and budget.

Remember, each diamond tells a unique story, and finding the perfect one is an exciting journey. Happy diamond hunting!

At Varoujan Jewellers, we are certified diamond graders and can show you the difference.