Fancy color diamonds grading

Between the two categories of diamonds Fancy Color or White, the color of a diamond affects its price, no matter into which category the diamond falls. What is important to know is that the grading for each group is entirely different. 

Fancy Color Diamonds

Fancy Color Diamonds or FCDs are rare in general; in fact, higher the intensity grade rarer is the FCD. According to the Gemological Institute of America or GIA a scale of nine grades is used to grade FCDs. 

1. Faint 

2. Very Light 

3. Light 

4. Fancy Light 

5. Fancy 

6. Fancy Dark 

7. Fancy Intense 

8. Fancy Deep 

9. Fancy Vivid


Higher grades of FCDs are rare and therefore carry a greater monetary value.


The lowest grade on the scale is “Faint” which is the borderline that separates FCDs from White diamonds (Z color)

According to the GIA, there are three main elements for grading FCDs:

• Hue

• Tone

• Saturation

Understanding the differences between hue, tone, and saturation is challenging.


1. Hue

Hue or color refers to the main color of the diamond such as Red, Blue, Pink or Yellow; there are 27 hues in all.  While considering the 27 different colors, it is important to note that sometimes hues include a combination of main and modifying colors.  For example, a Greenish-Yellow diamond may contain a Yellow hue and modifying tints of Green. 


When a diamond has more than one color, the last color mentioned is the main color of the stone. You should keep this in mind even when considering diamonds that have a third, fourth and fifth color!


Here is a helpful guide:

  • Purple pink diamond – The ratio between the colors is almost completely balanced with a slight edge towards pink.

  • Greenish Blue diamond – The ratio between them is about 75% Blue and 25% Green.

  • Yellowish brownish Orange – The ratio is about 60 -75% Orange and the rest of the diamond color is a mix of yellow and brown colors.


    *All given parentage values are not accurate and are just given as an example


The GIA does not measure the percentage of each color. As a result, the diamond’s main color is established first and the modifiers afterward.  Gray and Brown are common color modifiers (or secondary colors) that do exist as solid colors, although they are not included in the hue circle.  


Pink, has its own range and can appear as a main/solid color. 

However, you will not find it mentioned in the hue circle.

 It is categorized as a shade of Red.




2. Tone

Tone defines how light or dark the color or hue of the diamond actually is. It refers to the diamonds intensity of color.  

Grading tone involves the following seven factors:

1. Very Light

2. Light

3. Medium Light

4. Medium

5. Medium Dark

6. Dark

7. Very Dark


3. Saturation

Color saturation refers to the strength of color or how much color is present and how intense it is.  The saturation of light toned diamonds varies from Pastel to Vivid, while dark tones range from Dark to Deep.  

The GIA uses six different levels to grade saturation: 

1. Fancy Light 

2. Fancy 

3. Fancy Intense

4. Fancy Dark

5. Fancy Deep

6. Fancy Vivid


The intensity color grading of a diamond is based on a combination of tone and saturation. As you can see it has nine different grades.



One Last feature to consider when discussing diamond color is color distribution. Color distribution refers to how evenly the color extends across the diamond. 

Color distribution ranges are:

• Even

• Uneven


White Diamonds 

Most people are familiar with white diamonds.  The majority of diamonds in today’s market belong to this color group. 


Colorless diamonds are often referred to as “white” diamonds.


The GIA grades white Diamonds on a scale from D to Z.  At the top end of the scale are D grade diamonds, often referred to as colorless. On the bottom end of the scale are Z grade diamonds, said to be light or pale they are commonly found in brown and yellows shades. 


White Diamond Color Grades are:

Colorless (DEF)

Near Colorless (GH)

White (IJ)

Very Faint Yellow (KLM)

Faint Yellow (NOPQR)

Light Yellow (STUVWXYZ) 


Colors D-E-F will usually bring the highest prices


The common method used to grade a colorless diamond is by looking at it through the back of the diamond.  It is easier to see if there is a slight tint when you look at the diamond from this position. A diamond that reveals a greater tint will receive a lower color grade. 


Hue, Tone and Saturation

While hue, tone and saturation have a positive impact on FCDs, in the case of white diamonds they can be detractors that negatively influence the diamonds value.