Facts About Colorless Diamonds You Need To Know About

Facts About Colorless Diamonds You Need To Know About

To the untrained eye, a diamond is a crystal-clear gemstone ornamenting a woman’s earlobe, an enormous and brilliantly sparkling necklace pendant, it can also be a tiny but very lovely row of stones wrapped around her wrist or a bright and unyielding center stone of a ring. In all these, when people think or see diamonds, what registers in the mind are always colorless diamonds.

Facts About Colorless Diamonds

When it comes to popularity, nothing beats colorless diamonds. Diamonds have about 12 base colors—more than a rainbow’s seven. And crystal-clear diamond or colorless diamond is one of them. It is also the rarest and most expensive.

This article shall dwell only on that. So read on.

What is a Colorless Diamond?

Most diamonds, including those perceived by people as crystal-clear, actually have a slight shade of yellow or brown, which only a trained gemologist can discern.

Grading and classifying diamonds has come a long way. In the early days, terms such as ‘riveror waterwere used to describe colorless or almost-colorless diamonds. ‘Cape was used to describe yellow stones from Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and with flaws or with imperfections to describe clarity.

Then in the 1940s, jewelry innovator Robert M. Shipley, a retail jeweler, started professionalizing the American jewelry industry. This gave birth to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), with the mission of giving formal training, establishing ethics and standards in buying and selling gems.

Thus, in 1953, the GIA established the 4Cs—a diamond grading system that is still being used today. The 4Cs stand for color, clarity, cut, and carat.

So back to the question…

The color scale shown ranges from D to Z – with D as the most colorless.

Colorless diamond chart
Colorless diamond chart

Colorless diamonds belong to the D, E, and F  scales. Those between the G to J fall under the near-colorless category.

These color distinctions are very subtle and maybe impossible to detect by an untrained eye. But they can spell a big difference in diamond quality and price.

Other than those set by the 4Cs, colorless diamonds are defined by these four characteristics:


The most obvious characteristic of a colorless diamond is not the absence of color but its being bright and icy look. if you peer through a D, C, and F diamond, you won’t see any hint of yellow or brown common to other diamond varieties. All you see is a pure silvery-white color that appears transparent.

It’s kind of looking through ice made of purified water with no trapped air bubbles.


About 133 million carats of diamonds are mined each year. Colorless diamonds account for less than 1% of the total. And of this minuscule amount, less than 1% is used in engagement rings such as the one in this Diamond Nexus review. The rest goes to other jewelry types.

This makes the gemstone expensive and extremely valuable.


Diamonds come from bits of carbon trapped deep within the bowels of the Earth—a hundred miles or more below the mantlewhere crushing pressure and searing temperature transform them from a black lump of nothingness to much-coveted precious stones.

Then, by some stroke of luck, they are violently pushed near the surface by volcanic activity. NOTE: By ‘near the surface’ could mean 600 meters down, like the Udachnaya Pipe diamond mine in Russia.

Along the way, that lump of diamond picks up some elements and natural gasses like nitrogen and boron as well as other impurities from its surroundings. This unavoidable contamination will affect its quality down the line.

Colorless diamonds, however, are unsullied. Somehow they managed to avoid these contaminations. They are chemically pure. They don’t have a hint of unwanted hues caused by traces of nitrogen and other natural gasses in their structure.

Perfect Quality

As mentioned earlier, diamond quality is determined by the 4Cs set by the GIA over 60 years ago.  Though they are all important in determining a diamond’s quality, some are more important than others like color, for example

Colorless diamonds set the standard and value of other diamonds. It is the ‘model.’ Of course, the other Cs are also taken into consideration when grading a diamond, but it would be farfetched to see a yellow-hued diamond being of more perfect quality than a colorless one.

But does having ‘pure quality,’ answer the question, “do colorless diamonds sparkle more? 

Yes, they do sparkle more because they absorb light better. And this ‘sparkliness’ makes them an all-time favorite among precious stones.

Are Colorless Diamonds More Expensive?

There are other gemstones more expensive than colorless diamonds. For example, jadeite costs $3 million/carat while that of colorless diamond price goes for around $16,000 at most. But that price is too prohibitive except for people who have money to splurge on a gem. Besides, it is not the traditional stone for engagement and wedding rings. Hence, colorless diamonds can command a high price for their rarity and reputation.

Colorless diamond ringColorless diamond ring

But that’s on the gem level. As a jewelry item, like a colorless diamond ring, the diamond pricing may be affected by other factors like…


This refers to the metal base that holds a gemstone or diamond in place. Setting styles are intended to enhance both the beauty of the stone and the beauty of a jewelry piece.

One thing that makes colorless diamonds attractive as a jewelry piece is that it fits any kind of metal and any type of setting.

Hued diamonds are not so versatile. For example, yellow-tinted diamonds will look ‘colorless’ if set on yellow gold like the piece in this Jewelry Affairs review or rose gold.

And using white gold, platinum, or silver setting for ‘near-colorless’ diamonds will amplify their color. Colorless diamonds, however, will look even more magnificent if set on these metal types.

Of course, this will have an impact on price.

Shape and size

The shape is the way the gem is cut. Colorless diamonds will sparkle more with emerald or Asscher cut because of their multiple facets. On the other hand, low color grade diamonds would look better with a round cut because they reflect light, hiding whatever trace of color they might have.

Size refers to the carat weight of the gem. The larger the stone, the more color (or lack of it) will show. Thus, if you have the money to buy a diamond of large carat weight, go for the colorless type.

And again, you need to shell out a few more bucks.


Diamond fluorescence
Diamond fluorescence

This is the tendency of a diamond to emit a soft glow when exposed to UV (ultraviolet) light. About 30%  of diamonds exhibit fluorescence. While it is not one of the standard factors in determining a diamond’s quality, it can affect its color and should be taken into consideration in your diamond purchase decision.

Any diamond grading report will reflect its fluorescence as Faint, Medium, Strong, and Very Strong. Very strong fluorescence intensity can make a colorless or near-colorless diamond appear hazy or oily. At any rate, colorless diamonds with fluorescence are sold at a discount.

Of course, when shopping for diamonds, you don’t have to be so fixated on colorless diamonds. Near-colorless types, under some circumstances, maybe just as good, and they will definitely be cheaper.

What Are Near-colorless Diamonds

As the name implies, these are diamonds with very tiny (unnoticeable to the untrained eye) traces of color. As mentioned earlier, diamonds will absorb some elements and gasses like nitrogen and boron during their formation stage. These gasses, like nitrogen,  absorb blue and violet light making the diamond appear yellowish or brownish.

F and H near-colorless diamonds
F and H near-colorless diamonds

In the GIA Scale (shown above), near-colorless diamonds lie within the E to H range. They may not be as pure as the colorless diamond, but telling them apart is extremely difficult without using a microscope. And as a jewelry item, no one can tell the difference.

Near-colorless diamonds are consistent favorites for engagement rings and other types of jewelry. They are as sparkling as colorless diamonds but come at a lower price.

When viewed in all lighting conditions, near-colorless diamonds don’t display a strong presence of color. People who are particularly color-sensitive may detect traces of color on diamonds belonging to the “I” category—but not those in the lower classification levels.

Another advantage of near-colorless diamonds is that they can be set on either white or yellow metals as they do not require the setting to make them look brighter. They have their own bewitching brightness. This gives potential buyers a wide leeway of freedom in choosing the perfect setting.

Beauty and Budget Balance

Let’s face it. When people shop, especially for jewelry, their minds are hot-wired on two things: price and beauty. Nobody shops with a bagful of money to pour on the first jewelry item one sees on display. They look around, try this or that, then inquire about the price (if the item has no price tag). If it has, they will ask for discounts.

Near-colorless diamonds remove that hassle. They provide the perfect beauty of a colorless diamond that fits a typical diamond buyer. And they can look good in any setting, i.e., white, yellow gold, or rose gold.

And yes, they sparkle just as much as colorless diamonds do—assuming the cuts are the same.

Is a Near-colorless Diamond Good?

Near-colorless diamonds are not only ‘good’ but very good. It’s kind of enjoying the best of both worlds—beauty and affordability.

Though it is also rare, but not as rare as colorless diamonds. This has a great impact on its price. For example, a colorless diamond could cost around $ 9,000.00/carat, while a near-colorless variety is about $ 7,000.00/carat.

Like its cousin, the colorless diamonds, it can be set in various kinds of metals and cut the same way without diminishing its beauty and allure.

And when set as a jewelry piece, it looks just like a colorless diamond if both are placed side by side.

Is near-colorless diamonds a good buy?

From the reasons cited above, it is a good buy. When money is tight, it is best to settle for the second-best. Besides, everything is not lost, provided you get the right setting and cut. Both can make your gem look larger and colorless.

Because of its near-colorless properties, you have a very wide option regarding settings, shapes, and styles.

But before you whip out your wallet to buy that piece of jewelry item that caught your fancy (colorless or near-colorless) remember these simple tips to help you decide which is best for you…

Consider the setting color

Is your setting white, yellow, or rose gold? If it is yellow or rose gold, your diamond color will not be so noticeable. So you can go for the upper grade of near-colorless diamonds.

Don’t buy a near-colorless diamond set in white gold or platinum. The color will be much more noticeable.

Match it with the accent stones

If you’re buying a ring, for example, with side or accent stones, make sure that these are of a lower color grade than the center stone as they will ‘steal the thunder’ of the center stone. So, if your center stone is a D, choose accent stones belonging to the G or J category.

Don’t get so hung up with colors

The color grading scheme is for loose stones. When set into a jewelry item, the color difference will not be so obvious.

Besides, most engagement rings use diamonds in the G, H, or I range.

Ring setting design matters

What engagement ring setting design catches your fancy? A halo or a solitaire?

A halo has other stones around the center stone. This design accentuates the color of the center stone due to the other diamonds around it. A colorless or near-colorless diamond is best suited to this purpose

If you are on a budget, the solitaire will be perfect. Not only is it cheaper, but you can use diamonds with a more pronounced color.

Solitaire engagement ring
Solitaire engagement ring

Naturally-mined diamonds are always never colorless. They always have a hint of color, i.e., yellow, pink, green, blue, etc.

Every now and then, however (about less than 1% of all the diamonds mined each year) an ‘odd-man’ appears on the scene—colorless diamonds. They are so rare that finding them is more of an accident than by planning or intent. Today, low-grade colorless diamonds can only be found in the mines of Angola. But it is very much worth the money in trying to acquire one.

Now that you know more about colorless diamonds, perhaps you’d be interested in available alternatives. Read our guide, “The Other Stones: Top Five Diamond Alternatives That Don’t Break the Bank.”