An Interesting Case For Yellow, Brown and Gray Diamonds

Did you know that diamonds are valued based on what tone their body color is? Natural white diamonds graduate to three popular body colors including the commonly known yellow, and the lesser known brown and gray. These tones are in reference to diamonds graded anywhere from D – Z (colorless, near colorless, faint, very light and light) and not to be confused with fancy diamond colors (high color saturation and intensity; color beyond Z grade). As you would imagine, the diamond industry sometimes values the less commonly known tones of brown and gray at a lower price point. However, I want to remind you that tonal color difference is again a rarity characteristic and not a beauty characteristic! In other words, diamonds are subjectively evaluated and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

GIA Color Grading Scale

The popular GIA color grading scale with graduated yellow tones. There are also brown and gray color gradations that can be equally beautiful but somehow aren’t as popular.


Faint, Very Light and Light Color Grading

Most people see the very common GIA Color Grading Scale above and think that white natural diamonds graduate to only a yellow tint/tone. However, as mentioned above there are also brown and gray tones that diamonds can graduate down to within this color spectrum. These are most commonly seen in the faint, very light, and light categories. Although these color grades are not considered ‘fancy’ they still can show a fair amount of color enough to be considered an attractive creamy ivory color (yellow tone), blush rose (brown), and silver (gray). Thus many diamond lovers that like a bit of personality or color but don’t have the budget for a traditional ‘fancy’ color diamond can take advantage of the cost savings in this area. This isn’t common knowledge but for those of you that are looking for something different and special these naturally tinted diamonds are just as beautiful as their colorless and near-colorless cousins!

A great video that explains the color grades of yellow, brown and gray diamonds is happily narrated by Good Old Gold’s Jonathan Weingarten. If you have a spare twelve minutes it’s a great way to understand the beauty found in these lesser known diamond tones:

Interestingly, I recently recommended this gorgeous 1.02ct J SI1 for an engagement ring set in rose-gold to an ODBA reader. When he asked for more information about this diamond he was told that this ‘J’ color diamond was indeed cut to great specs and clearly shows gorgeous optical contrast but it also has a medium brown tone! Now, the GIA report has graded this diamond as a ‘J’ color but makes no mention of it’s color tone. Diamonds that are ‘K’ or higher will not have any additional designation of faint to light brown notation. Therefore this ‘J’ just missed the mark.

Ritani .52ct L VS1

Beautiful .52ct L VS1 with faint brown tint. This diamond has great white light reflection and will show a faint ‘blush’ color tone when viewed from the pavilion/side angle. This diamond would look great if set in rose-gold or yellow-gold ring setting.

Despite the medium brown color tone, the diamond is still an ideal cut diamond with outstanding light performance. It would face up bright white due to it’s ideal light performance but from the side pavilion view it would be a beautiful ‘barely-there’ blush tone. Diamonds that exhibit more color than a ‘K’ master stone are described with a letter grade as well as a colored diamond grade (ranging from faint to light brown). Here is an example of a .52ct L VS1 that has the added notation of ‘faint brown’.

On the other hand, gray diamonds that exhibit more color than a ‘K’ master stone will be graded either Faint, Light, and Very Light Gray without a corresponding letter grade. Yellow tone are of course graded as shown above in the GIA color grading scale. Finally, diamonds with a color tone other than yellow, brown or gray and are graded ‘G’ or below would then be considered a fancy color diamond. A little confusing but all very interesting just the same. It does add an element of intrigue into the entire color grading procedure by the major gem labs today. 🙂

As a diamond lover, I enjoy all color diamonds and do not discriminate! My hope is that with further diamond education and understanding, consumers can widen their perspective as to what they consider beautiful, unique, romantic, and valuable to them. If you have any questions or would like to find a unique colored diamond that adds an element of uniqueness to your proposal or important occasion, don’t hesitate to contact me for recommendations.

As always, Happy Diamond Buying!


You May Also Like