The Girlfriend's Guide to Jewellery
22: Colour 2011-07-06
In order of importance, the next of the ‘Four C’s’ is colour. Just as we can perceive brilliance in a diamond we can also perceive its colour with the naked eye. It is easier to see the presence of colour than it is to ‘see’ the lack of colour. When we speak of the ‘colour’ of a diamond we are referring to its natural body colour. The colour grade should not be confused with the display of dispersion or fire from the diamond.
The sparkle of a diamond can be visually very distracting. For this reason the body colour of the stone is graded through its pavillion while lying face down on a plain white surface using a method of contrast and comparison using ‘master stones’ of known colour grades. Most diamonds have some body colour and yellow is the most common. Other more common body colours include brown, green and grey. Rare diamond colours include blue, pink, orange, red and colourless. Any truly colourless diamond or a diamond with a natural intense fancy colour is rare, exotic and coveted. You will notice that they have a premium price!
Following the GIA grading scale, the colour grade of a diamond is expressed by a single capital letter starting with the letter D for a colourless diamond. Very few diamonds are colourless. As the intensity body colour increases we move through the alphabet to E, F, G et cetera. The further along in the alphabet the letter grade we will see greater body colour exhibited by the diamond. We refer to D, E and F colour grades as colourless; G and H as near colourless; I, J and K as having feint colour and grades of L or higher as having colour. Fancy colour grades are not graded by single capital letter grades. Rather, fancy grades are described verbally, for example as ‘fancy intense yellow’. It is important to understand how the colour grading scale works as it will help you to choose a diamond. As most diamonds have some degree of body colour and, where the cut grade, clarity grade and weight are all the same, you can expect to pay less for a diamond as the colour grades drops. Good news if the presence of body colour appeals to you! Likewise, expect to pay a premium for more rare colourless or fancy coloured diamonds.
In the past, diamonds of D, E and F colour grades were very rare indeed. In fact, most diamonds we saw had perceptible body colour. In recent years diamond mines in the Canadian North have tended to yield a greater number of diamonds of the exceptionally high colour grades of D, E and F.
It is possible to enhance the colour of a diamond as it is with many other gemstones. Be sure you ask if the colour of any gemstone you are buying is natural or has been treated in any way. It is not necessarily a bad thing but there can be a significant price difference between gems of natural colour and treated colour.