Let’s talk about Color!
Updated: Jan 3
For this post, I’m here to discuss Color, the 2nd of the 4C’s of diamonds.
Prior to GIA coming up with a precise and scientific means of grading color, the jewelry industry used color terms based on locations where diamond mines were located. There were terms like “jagers,” which pertained to diamonds that exhibit blue fluorescence, because such diamonds came out of the Jagersfontein mine in South Africa; “Wesselton” and “Cape” referred to faintly yellow tinted stones because the diamonds that came out of these African mines exhibited such characteristics; and there was the term “Golconda,” which referred to exceptionally transparent, colorless diamonds. Golconda was an ancient city in Hyderabad located in the south of India, which produced the world famous Koh-i-noor, the 105.60ct. modified oval brilliant cut diamond which sits atop one of the crowns used by the Queen of England!
Imagine being a jeweler back then and trying to describe color to someone who has no idea about these places much less the diamonds that came from them? Well this all changed when Mr. Robert Shipley, the founder of Gemological Institute of America, standardized the grading of diamonds in the 1940’s. He introduced the concept of the 4C’s of diamonds. His successor in GIA, Mr. Richard Liddicoat, together with his other colleagues Lester Benson, Joseph Phillips, Robert Crowningshield and Bert Krashes – expanded on the 4Cs to the now industry-wide used GIA D-Z Color scale and the GIA Clarity scale. I’ll be attaching a link about the history of the 4C’s of Diamond Quality if you want to further read up about it.
Whilst colorless diamonds comprise the majority of the market, they do come in an array of colors. Trace elements of nitrogen make a diamond yellow and boron makes a diamond blue. Distortions in crystal structures of diamonds make them brown, pink, or red. Structural changes brought about by radiation makes a diamond green.
Now, back to grading color…
For this blog, I’ll be limiting my post about colorless to near colorless diamonds and how I grade them.
The GIA color scale begins at D (colorless) and runs to Z (light yellow). Anything beyond the Z color already falls to the colored diamond spectrum. The proper way to grade loose diamonds is through the pavilion, the pointy bottom part. I use a diamond color grading tray and hold the diamond arms length from my eyes at a certain angle and try to look for any hint of color. I make sure to use a white light so as to not compromise my color grading.
Diamonds that fall in the letters DEF range show extremely subtle hints of yellow that even jewelry experts like me have a hard time discerning. DEF stones, when viewed face up, show absolutely no traces of color.
Stones that fall in the letters GHI range will show hints of yellow when viewed from the pavilion but appear colorless from atop.
Letters JKLM appears slightly yellow when viewed from the top. Anything after the letter N really shows a yellowish hue even to the naked eye.
Unfortunately, most stones are already set in jewelry making it quite tricky to grade color properly. Bench jewelers even come up with techniques to make diamonds appear colorless or, at the very least, minimize the yellowish hues (or set a really yellow diamond against a yellow gold setting to trick the customer into thinking that a diamond is already categorized as a fancy yellow.) This is where my expertise comes in as your jewelry appraiser. My years of experience being a pawnshop operator and working with bench jewelers or jewelry manufacturers does give me a competitive edge over typical jewelry resellers. I also make a conscious effort to take further studies to up my game as an appraiser. Right now, I’m taking further studies on jewelry appraisal under the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) to ensure that I give the international standard of jewelry appraisal.
So, what’s our big take away from this post?
Grade color in white light, NOT in yellow or natural light;
When in doubt, consult an expert.
Next, I’ll be talking about Carat so stay tuned!
If you have any other questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below! You may also
book an appointment via Facebook: Willyn Villarica Jewelry or Instagram: @willynvillarica_jewelry