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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 diamondsappear far more colorless than their laboratory cut grades. In fact, when selling Frantz Diamonds we must discourage conventional thinking of letter-ranges like DEF because our 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 their preference and budget; (since diamonds of several adjacent color grades will be indistinguishable from one another).
Light getting in and out of the diamond does not illuminate body color the way light trapped inside the diamond does.
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