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4C’s of Diamonds – The First ‘C’: Colour

Diamonds have been one of the most mysterious elements found anywhere in the universe. And undoubtedly, diamonds are a woman’s best friend. No wonder woman and diamonds have many things in common. They are both beautiful and they both make everyone around them fall in love with them. Men have spent lifetimes unravelling the mysteries of women and their best friends, diamonds. Understanding diamonds, however, is a lot simpler… with a little bit of help, of course.

For the layman, a diamond is just a shiny stone that reflects light really well. However, understanding how a diamond is graded and priced would answer all the questions regarding what makes one diamond better than the other.
In earlier times, there was no universal system available for diamond grading. Back then, diamonds were graded mainly based on simple visual understanding. And different people valuing the same diamond priced it differently based on their own perceptions. It was only in the last century that a globally acceptable grading standard was developed.

This standard is known as the “4Cs” system of grading diamonds and is based on “Colour”, “Clarity”, “Cut” and “Carat Weight” of a diamond. Among these, the first two – Colour and Clarity are natural occurrences in diamonds and we rarely have any control over these. The other two – Cut and Carat Weight are defined by the manner in which a diamond is cut and polished.

In this blog, I am going to go over the very first “C” of diamond grading – the “Color” of a diamond.

Interesting Trivia: When we talk about the colour of a diamond, we actually refer to the lack of colour in that particular diamond. The purest diamonds that contain no other elements than carbon are colourless. The colourless diamonds are the rarest. Most diamonds have some form of impurity elements other than carbon inside of them which absorb certain wavelengths of light causing diamonds to appear yellow, blue or other wide spectrum of colours.

The whiter or more colourless the diamond, the higher is its value. As per the grading system and chart defined by the Gemmological Institute of America, diamond colours range from D to Z – D being the purest, completely colourless diamond. Colour inclusions in a diamond then increase in a sliding scale all the way down to Z.

Diamonds that fetch the highest value are generally graded D to F in colour. However, these are rare to find and extremely costly to own. Then there are grades G to I, wherein diamonds are visually colourless to the naked and untrained eye. As you go down the grade scale, say J to M, tinges and hints of yellow or brown colour start creeping into the diamonds.

When it comes to diamond studded jewelry, there are a few tricks that can make a diamond appear slightly better in color than it actually is. The right metal shade can definitely complement the appearance of the color of your diamond. For example, if you set a diamond with slight yellow tint in white gold setting, the diamond will appear to be less yellowish due to internal reflection of white metal around it. Similarly, a yellowish stone set in yellow gold will look even more yellowish.

Hard Fact: Grading a diamond’s colour is very difficult using naked eye. Most labs have a set of “master stones” that define the highest and lowest limits of acceptable colour or lack of it within a stone. A trained gemmologist keeps placing the diamond to be graded right next to different master stones and compares their shades until the diamond’s shade matches the colour of one of the master stones. The diamond gets the colour grade of its closest matching master stone.

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February 2, 2017

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