Color For more than six thousand years diamonds have had a place in man’s history. They have been sought after as mineral’s possessing mystical properties, as objects of beauty and as symbols of status and power. However, before De Beer’s creation of the 4C’s (color, cut, clarity, and carat), in 1939, there were no universally accepted standards used to categorize and describe the qualities of diamonds. Color is an attribute of a diamond which is immediately visible to the naked eye and as such can immediately be compared to other diamonds which are seen as “whiter” or not as white. The color of a diamond is determined by its chemical makeup and impurities inside the stone. There are diamonds of many different colors, from white to black, brown, yellow, pink, orange, red, green, purple, blue and grey. While technically the color white is made through a combination of colors, it is easier in a discussion of diamond ‘whiteness” to think of white as the absence of color. As a diamond has less color in its crystals, it is colorless and appears whiter. When we say that a diamond is colorless or “D” in color, we are saying that this is the whitest a diamond can be. As with any color there are slight variations to that color. A diamond color is no exception and so there are varying color grades of white. In the 1940’s, the Gemological Institute of America began assigning letters to describe the different levels of whiteness found in a diamond. This diamond color grading chart defines diamond color beginning with the letter “D” and continuing through the letter “ Z”. This is considered the normal color range of all diamonds. Diamonds not in this range due to increased or intense color are considered “fancy colored diamonds” and are graded using many of the standards and terminology used to grade colored stones like ruby, emerald and sapphire. Beginning, however, with the letter “D” and continuing with the letters “E, F, G, H, I and sometimes J, are generally considered white stones. The Gemological Institute of America has defined the level of white attributed to diamonds in each of these color grades. As more color is found in the crystal structure of each diamond, it appears less colorless and thus less white. The difference in these color grades of diamonds can only be seen by comparing the color of one diamond with another. Diamonds are generally graded loose, essentially upside down with the culet or point of the stone facing upwards. Yet, it is difficult to determine the “whiteness” of a diamond color in the abstract. Professional’s in the diamond business, grade diamond color by comparing each stone to a master set of color-coded synthetically created crystals. In addition, diamond color may only be determined before the stone is placed in a piece of jewelry. Diamonds like prisms will reflect the color of the metal placed around it, and so a diamond will always appear whiter when surrounded by a white metal, like platinum or white gold. So much so that it can actually appear to be one full grade higher on a diamond color chart. As an example a G color stone will appear to F in color in a platinum or white gold ring. Ultimately, our perception of the whiteness of a diamond is influenced by the amount of light which passes through the diamond, and how that light is broken up or refracted in the stone and then reflected out of the stone. This refraction and then reflection of light in a diamond is what is responsible for the “fire” or sparkle of a diamond. This leads us to a discussion of another of the 4C’s, the “clarity” of a diamond.