How to grade color in a diamond

Whether you are shopping for a diamond or not, at some point you have probably heard the reference to the “4 C’s” of a diamond. With one of those “C’s” being Color, how exactly do you determine the color in a diamond?

Unless you are looking for a fancy colored diamond, which is an entirely different scale, the normal color range of diamonds start at D and continues alphabetically through Z. The D-E-F grades are considered colorless. The G-H-I-J grades are considered near-colorless or having slight traces of color that are not easily detectable to the untrained eye, when the stones are in a mounting. As you continue down the scale, the traces of color in a stone become gradually more apparent – from very faint yellow (K-L-M), very light yellow (N through R) to light yellow (S through Z).

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Since research has shown that our brains are not the greatest at remembering colors accurately (i.e. how many times have you bought a pair of shoes to match that new outfit only to get it home and realize it doesn’t quite match as well as you thought?) there are Masterstones available for color comparison. Each masterstone represents the least amount of color for that range. Just like a paint sample card at the home improvement store that has multiple shades of one color – who knew when you go to get white paint you would have to decide between so many…i.e. Bright White, Linen White, Soft White, Antique White, Parchment White, etc etc. –diamonds have a range of colors within one color. For example: two G-color diamonds can be in different ranges of the G color. One may be exactly the same G color as the masterstone G and the other maybe closer to an H-color but not have as much color as an H. To accurately grade a diamonds color, masterstones should be used.

Since diamonds are cut to reflect light and brilliance in the face-up position it becomes more difficult to judge the color especially once the stone is set in a ring. The color is only accurately graded when an un-mounted stone is set face-down on a plain white background with a daylight-equivalent light source. Ascot’s philosophy on color, is to stay in the F, G, H, I ranges to achieve the best value. Even in the I-color range, it is still difficult to see any color in the stone and you can maximize you money in other areas.

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