The 4C’s – Color

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The 4C’s – Diamond Color

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Most diamonds contain some hint of color. This is caused by the presence of nitrogen in the earth where they formed. Color grading for most diamond is done on a scale of D to Z. A diamond with more color than a Z is a ‘fancy colored diamond’ and could be a different color like pink or blue. These ‘fancy colors’ are not graded on the same scale.

Common Grading Standards

diamond color commercial grading standards

The world’s largest labs are soft on color. Diamonds in most chain stores, malls and discount outlets have far more tint than diamonds sent to the stricter labs. This can give casual shoppers a false and negative first impression about warmer colors.

AGS and GIA Standards

AGS and GIA diamond grading standards

The world’s best diamonds are sent to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gem Society (AGS). These labs employ strict and consistent standards. Diamonds with AGS and GIA reports command a higher premium and hold their value better than diamonds from softer labs.

Cut Influences Color

Diamonds in the D-Z scale are graded face-down, viewed through the side of the pavilion. This is because shape and cut quality both influence how light gets in and out of the diamond; grading face-down allows for a neutral assessment of body color. The brilliant cutting style is most efficient for returning light, so a round brilliant or princess may show less apparent color face-up than a step cut like an emerald or asscher.

Above-Average Cut Quality

above average cut quality grading

When cut quality is above average brilliants can “face up” with notably less color than the AGS or GIA color grade they were assigned, which was determined face-down. Why? Because light gets in and out faster. This is the opposite of poor cutting (or cutting for colored stones) where critical angles are missed and light rays escape through the pavilion or make multiple bounces before leaving – which illuminates body tone. The more superior the cut quality the less color is seen face-up.

High Performance Diamonds = Less Color Face Up

High Performance Diamonds have superior brightness through cutting standards

Diamonds cut to the highest level of performance have critical angles and precision-cutting so light gets in and out with the greatest intensity. Such high performance diamonds appear far more colorless than their laboratory cut grades. In fact, when selling High Performance Diamonds we must discourage conventional thinking of letter-ranges like DEF because these diamonds break those barriers. In hundreds of live viewings buyers are shocked when we don’t disclose color and they choose a “favorite” diamond several grades below their previously imagined threshold.

Only a fraction of the world’s diamonds have such cut quality; they are rare enough that most people have never even seen one. When buyers are considering such cut quality we urge them to dismiss preconceptions and find the “perfect” diamond in a range of color that fits preference and budget; since diamonds of several adjacent color grades will be indistinguishable from one another.

Ray-Tracing Example

Light getting in and out of the diamond does not illuminate body color the way light trapped inside the diamond does.

diamond ray tracing example perfect cut stones


Our Recommendation: “Crafted By Infinity” Diamonds

Our favorite manufacturer of high performance “superideal” round and princess cuts is Infinity Diamonds, a boutique operation in Antwerp, Belgium. Infinity crafts only 1000 diamonds per year, with a complete focus on cut quality for unsurpassed performance and precision. We are proud to be a Select Infinity Dealer and consider them our private diamond cutter.

In addition to the American Gem Society grading report with Ideal light performance and actual AGS ASET® images, Infinity diamonds all include Hearts & Arrows cut precision photos. Infinity also boasts the world’s first “superideal” princess cut.

Founder Paul Slegers’ high performance design for Infinity pre-dates GIA’s Excellent cut grade, the AGS Ideal performance grade and HRD’s high clarity Hearts & Arrows grade. Every diamond exceeds the standards of those systems and goes farther, answering to a higher authority in the person of Mr. Slegers. He takes every diamond from birth to final polish with excruciating attention to detail. His “Crafted By Infinity” inscription will only be branded on 1000 perfectly cut diamonds this year.

Infinity clients include renowned diamond collectors, appraisers and researchers in the world’s strictest grading laboratories. Paul Slegers’ uncompromising standards and modest pricing combine to make Infinity the perfect choice for architects, engineers and diamond enthusiasts seeking technical perfection, as well as “regular people” seeking the world’s highest level of cut quality.

With over 50 combined years of dealing with fine diamonds the staff of High Performance Diamonds has sampled and sold every “superideal” brand in the world. We judge Paul Slegers’ boutique Antwerp operation to be the finest: Every Infinity is absolutely, truly a superideal… but not every superideal is an Infinity.

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