By Dirk Rendel
Cut has a huge effect on whether or not it will sparkle brilliantly like the North Star. But even the diamond with the most exceptional sparkle will fail to reach its full potential if its color isn’t up to snuff.
But what color do we truly want out of a diamond? Well, interestingly enough, the best color is the absence of color. It’s kind of like “no news is good news.” Picture a hot swimsuit model on a calendar and envision the clear, transparent drops of water that bead on her supple chest and reflect the light from the beach sun. That’s what you want (the water drops, not the chest). Essentially, the best diamonds are completely white. We want the least amount of distraction. This is what causes a diamond to look brilliant, sparkly, and expensive.
And, as luck would have it, diamonds have their own grading system in order to rank the color quality. The grading system starts with the letter “D”, which is the highest rating a diamond can have. A, B and C are completely cast aside. So, think of all those D’s you got on your report card when you were a kid. If only you had known, you could have told your angry parents that if you were a diamond you’d have a perfect score.
It should come as no surprise that D is completely devoid of color, and then as the alphabet goes on, each subsequent letter grade has more color in there. Still, the differences in some of the shades are so small that diamond merchants prefer to have the diamond color ratings in ranges. Thus, the letters D, E, and F all make up the “colorless” range. Not surprisingly, these will be the most expensive group of diamonds if everything else (like cut and clarity) are equal. The next range goes from G to J. Anything falling within this group is known as “near colourless.” Though it may be hard for an untrained person to tell the difference between F(which is at the low end of colorless) and G (which is the most colorless of the near colorless), you can bet that your bank account will notice a bigger discrepancy. Hey, we don’t write the rules! We don’t even enforce ’em!
So what comes next on the color scale? Well now we start getting into the type of diamonds you really don’t even want to bother with. The color range of K through M are considered “noticeable color” and you will certainly notice the color on these babies. N through Z are even more colorful and, again, they’re hardly worth even mentioning.
But, the difference that these colors have on the price of the diamond are pretty interesting. Essentially, the drop in price may not be what you expect. It isn’t like D, E and F are all basically matched and then the drop comes at G and stays steady until J. Not at all.
Actually, the biggest drop in price happens between a drop from D to E. Hard to believe, I know, but think of it like this: You know how when you drive your new car off the lot, it immediately becomes a “used car” and loses ten percent of its value? That’s what happens when light and other natural things affect a diamond as it is being mined. So the drop from D to E is a stunning 25% in value. Pretty hard to believe, eh? After that, it basically drops ten percent with each letter, so that a G would be 45 percent less valuable than a D. A J would be 65 percent less expensive. Once you get to H, the drop isn’t as significant. It becomes about 5% cheaper with each subsequent letter. In the meantime, in the realm of real diamonds, it is important to remember that D through F are all essentially still colorless to the human eye. So think about that when you’re making the purchase. And it gets even better: G through I are still essentially colorless and so you can save even more money by going further down. It is important to remember, however, that larger diamonds will cause the color to be more visible. Keep this in mind so that you can strike the perfect balance between size and color.