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Color Grading White Diamonds

Mastering the art of color grading white diamonds is a challenge. Learn about the standards, terms, tools, and testing procedures and start practicing.

14 Minute Read

For almost a century, gemology has been regarded as a science. The work of pioneers like Robert M. Shipley Sr. and B.W. Anderson reached a level of accuracy and repeatability that elevated our discipline. However, some elements of gemology remain an art, such as color grading white diamonds. This continues to be primarily an interpretation of what a person observes.

Nevertheless, your descriptions must be as accurate as possible. Diamond color grades can make a difference of hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. If you intend to pursue this art, pay attention to every detail listed below. Mastering color grading white diamonds requires considerable practice as well as help from experienced graders.

GIA Color Grading Terms for White Diamonds

Please note, “white diamonds” refer to colorless or slightly yellowish diamonds. Diamonds of all other colors, such as blue, pink, and brown, are known as fancy colored diamonds. These classes of diamond have different color grading standards. The standards described here are strictly for white diamonds. For fancy colored diamond standards, see this article for details.

Today, the white diamond color grading system established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is almost universally accepted. By far, it’s the least ambiguous system…

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

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