Color – The 4 C’s of Diamond Shopping
What is a diamond anyway? Its a shiny stone right? Ha, yes it is. But how is it made? Diamonds are made of highly compressed carbon. Carbon is what pencil lead (also known as graphite) is largely made of, and it’s an essential element for all life on Earth. Now, when some of the Earth’s carbon gets buried, and ends up miles below the surface, the extreme weight and pressure at that depth changes the carbon at the molecular level and turns it into the clear beautiful stones we love to put on engagement rings.
Now, since diamonds are produced from nature’s random chemistry experiments, other bits can get into the carbon as it’s compressing deep under the earth. This can affect the color of the diamond, among other things. Sometimes this makes for a very interesting diamond, such as the famous Hope Diamond which has a deep blue color.
The diamond you’d want to put on an engagement ring should be colorless, or near colorless. Since its very hard (and sometimes very expensive) to find a truly colorless diamond, a savvy diamond shopper will try to get the clearest color diamond they can while balancing against the other diamond qualities.
Since diamonds are made inside of the earth, most diamonds have some impurities during formation, which impart a slightly yellow color to them. Diamond color is graded by letter, starting at the best grade of “D,” which stands for a colorless diamond, to grade “Z” which is a yellower diamond with more impurities in the original carbon.
In practical terms, most diamonds marketed to consumers for engagement rings are generally between the D to J grades. When shopping for engagement ring diamonds, forget about any diamond that has a grade of K or higher. These diamonds may be good for other jewelry (or for industrial drilling), but they will be noticeably yellow (and ugly) on your engagement ring.
When shopping for a diamond, as you consider carats, clarity, and color, you’ll have to balance other considerations against your quest for a clear, colorless, white diamond.
- For those with generous budgets, consider finding a diamond that is grade D-F, which are nearly colorless. If you’re fortunate financially, speed up your diamond shopping by limiting your search to these top color grades.
- If you’re budget constrained, consider the higher color grades G-J.
- If you’re unsatisfied with the color of the diamond in your budget, consider a diamond of a higher color grade, but has a smaller carat size.
My Opinion: Buy a diamond with a D-F color grade, and adjust other parameters until you meet your budget goal. Better to have a smaller diamond with a great color, than a large diamond with obvious color flaws.