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Why Does Diamond Grading Start at D?

Updated on July 16, 2011
GIA Color Scale
GIA Color Scale

What Happened to A, B, C?

If you have ever shopped for an engagement ring, you end up learning a lot about diamonds and specifically color. You may wonder why the diamond color grading scale starts at D instead of starting at A but maybe you felt like it was a dumb question. It is actually a very valid question with a pretty straightforward answer.

A long time ago color grading did start with A and in fact, people in the industry graded diamonds with Roman Numerals and with numbers, i.e. I, II, III or 1, 2, 3. Some individuals even described diamond color with double letters such as AA or BB. There was no set standard and these descriptions were used loosely. A better system had to be established and GIA came along in 1953 to set some new rules.

When GIA came up with what is now the industry accepted standard for color grading, they decided to start with a letter that had not been used previously. Since A, B, and C were all used inaccurately in the past, GIA decided to start fresh with the letter D and the scale goes all the way up to Z.

D refers to the absence of color in a diamond and you should think of D as the IDEAL! This means that the diamond is white or colorless. Think of Z as crap and if your husband comes home with a Z color diamond tell him he is not the man you thought he was....just kidding.

Anyway, I hope this sheds a little light on the diamond color grading scale and on a side note...anything above the letter Z on the scale is considered a "fancy color" and the scale is entirely different.


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