Diamond Color Chart & Clarity Scale

The four Cs of diamonds are cut, clarity, color, and carat. However, to most diamond buyers, diamond color and clarity (along with diamond shape) are the most important factors as they directly impact the overall look of the diamond more so than cut and carat. Diamond color is all about the diamond’s natural color, or more specifically, the lack of color, whereas clarity refers to the absence of visible blemishes or undesirable inclusions.

When exploring new diamonds and comparing the four Cs, it can be easy to get caught up in finding the best diamond color and forgetting about the other elements. While some view colorless diamonds as the most sought-after, the truth is whatever diamond looks great to you is the best choice. 

Color grades play a role in the overall appearance of a diamond, but many people can’t tell the difference between nearby color grades, especially with the naked eye. The grading on these stones (and the relative price differences) are more about how rare the stones are—truly colorless diamonds are rarer and, therefore, more costly. 

However, the color grading you select shouldn’t be based on what the diamond industry says is ideal. You should always aim to pick the stone that suits your personal preferences and budget.

Here at Roman Malakov, we are passionate about helping you find the perfect diamond for you while considering the various factors that play into your decision. As you explore diamond color and clarity, along with the other Cs of diamond quality, take a look at our diamond color guide.

Diamond Color and Clarity Scale

A diamond color and clarity chart can help you identify the best diamond clarity and color for your preferences and budget. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created an international color scale for diamond color, and it also has a universal grading system for diamond clarity. When we combine these two components, we get a diamond color and clarity chart that helps us analyze the important aspects of diamond appearance.

The GIA’s diamond color chart categorizes diamonds from colorless to light, providing lettered labels for each variation, which offers insight into the different diamond color meanings. The diamond color grades begin with the letter D, which includes diamonds that are the rarest and most colorless. The chart then goes through each letter all the way to Z, with each diamond having more color than the ones before it. In the diamond color scale chart, letters represent the specific gradation of colorlessness:

D-F are colorless
G-J are near colorless
K-M are faint
N-R are very light
S-Z are light

When we take into account the diamond color chart and clarity, we have more variations that help us see how clear and beautiful each different diamond is. Since clarity is based on a lack of inclusions, this factor rates diamonds from flawless to included. 

It features six categories, each with some variation, for 11 total grades:

Flawless (FL) 

Flawless diamonds are considered absolutely perfect, with no inclusions or blemishes whatsoever, even under 10x magnification.

Internally Flawless (IF) 

Internally flawless diamonds have no inclusions under 10x magnification.

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) 

VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds have inclusions that are extremely slight. Only highly skilled graders would notice them under 10x magnification, and they are completely eye-clean.

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) 

VS1 and VS2 diamond grades have some very minor inclusions under 10x magnification. They are still considered eye-clean and will not have any noticeable inclusions or blemishes.

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) 

SI1 and SI2 diamonds will have inclusions that are noticeable under 10x magnification. SI1 diamonds are generally eye-clean, although there are some exceptions. Some SI2 diamonds will be eye-clean, but not all of them.

Included (I1, I2, and I3) 

The final grades will include obvious inclusions under 10x magnification, some of which may be visible to the naked eye. These inclusions may affect the brilliance of the stone and impact its overall appearance.

Different color diamonds can fall into different categories of clarity, so you will want to weigh the overall look of each variation to ensure you’re selecting the perfect diamond for you. It’s important to note that while there are many variations of grades in both color and clarity, many of these differences are hardly noticeable to the untrained eye. Generally speaking, only highly experienced diamond experts can recognize differences in color and clarity. That said, these differences can drastically impact grading and price, of course, so it’s important to know where your priorities lie by exploring a diamond color and clarity chart. 

What Is Diamond Color?

While most diamond colors are slight shades of white, yellow, gray, and brown, other diamond color ranges do exist. Since the colors are based on trace amounts of minerals that are present while the diamonds are forming, they can vary greatly in overall appearance.

The diamond color scale is based on three primary factors: saturation, hue, and tone. Saturation is all about the strength and intensity of the color, while hue refers to the diamond’s overall color, such as white, yellow, or pink. Meanwhile, tone encompasses the lightness or darkness of the color.

Diamond Color Comparison

Diamond color comparison is about more than just comparing diamonds side by side. With most natural colored diamonds, the main goal is to make sure they look great in the jewelry piece they’re being purchased for. If you’re shopping for colored diamond rings and want a diamond to set in a yellow gold ring, you don’t need to be as concerned with a colorless grade. But if you’re searching for a larger diamond with white color for a focal point of a necklace, you will want something more colorless and with better clarity. The goal is to make the final jewelry piece as beautiful and sparkly as possible. This doesn’t always mean finding the clearest and most colorless diamond but is rather about comparing diamond color vs. clarity, along with cut and carat, to find the best diamond for you.

In addition to the typical white and colorless diamonds, there are a wide variety of different colored diamonds that we call fancy diamonds. These are extremely rare and unique, coming in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, blue, green, and red. Fancy-colored diamonds often increase in price as their color increases in saturation, which is the opposite of regular-colored diamonds. Although most fancy-colored diamonds have more muted and lighter colors, they are unique and beautiful in their own right and are highly sought-after worldwide. These naturally formed diamonds are extremely unique and rare, as they all contain trace amounts of minerals and other chemicals that altered their coloring during their formation

FAQs About Diamond Color and Clarity

What Color Are Diamonds?

Although some fancy-colored diamonds do exist, the vast majority of diamonds fall in the standard color range from colorless to white, light yellow, light gray, or light brown.

What Color Diamond Is the Best?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that generally rings true for diamonds as well. While completely colorless diamonds and fancy-colored diamonds are the rarest and, therefore, the most expensive, the diamond color that is best is the one that you love the most.

What Is the Rarest Color Diamond?

Red diamonds are the rarest diamond color. It is estimated that there are fewer than 30 red diamonds in the world. 

Is VS1 or VS2 Better?

In terms of diamond color and clarity grading, VS1 is considered “better” than VS2, but only slightly. A VS1 diamond will have fewer (and smaller) inclusions than those in a VS2 diamond. However, the inclusions are only visible until 10x magnification, so it’s best to look at both types of diamonds with the naked eye to determine which one you prefer.

What is More Important: Clarity or Color?

Color is generally more important than clarity. However, if you go with a lower clarity grade but a higher color grade, you may not be satisfied with the overall look. It’s important to strike a balance between the two by consulting a diamond color and clarity scale. Once you choose an eye-clean color grade, you should then opt for the highest grade of clarity that fits your budget. This will ensure the most beautiful diamond with optimal sparkle. 

What Color Diamond Sparkles the Most?

How much a diamond sparkles is more about the stone's cut than the clarity and color, although they both play a role. If you have an eye-clean diamond with a quality cut, nearly any color stone will sparkle a great deal. Generally speaking, the more colorless, the better, but you can compare different color grades side by side to explore their sparkle.

Contact a Jewelry Expert at Roman Malakov

If you want to learn more about diamond colors and clarity or are ready to shop for the perfect diamond, get in touch with Roman Malakov. You can book an appointment for an in-person or virtual consultation or visit our store in NYC’s Diamond District. Our jewelry experts are ready to welcome you and guide you toward your ideal diamond for whatever jewelry piece your heart desires.