With regular diamonds, the ideal situation is for a stone to be completely colourless. However, the opposite is true for Natural Fancy Coloured Diamonds, which are considerably more valuable as the strength of their colour increases. It is also worth mentioning that the rarity of colour plays a major role in the diamonds value. For example, Pink Diamonds are far more rare than Yellow Diamonds and are worth more even if they are considerably smaller in size.

Here are the terms when referring to the intensity grade of Coloured Diamonds (simplified):

  • Fancy Vivid – The strongest colour saturation and brightness.
  • Fancy Deep – Strong colour saturation combined but with a darker hue than vivid.
  • Fancy Intense – Strong colour saturation but less then vivid.
  • Fancy – Lighter colour than both vivid and intense but still bright and colourful.
This image shows the different intensity levels of pink, blue, and green diamonds.

Diamond colour is a Fancy Coloured Diamond’s most significant characteristic. In fact, unlike a colourless (or white) diamond where the 4C's (carat, clarity, colour and cut) are all equally as important, colour is the most important factor in determining the value of a Fancy Coloured Diamond.

Diamond Grading

The colourless diamond grading system measures the amount of colour present in the stone (or rather the absence of colour) and breaks it down into six different categories:

The Colourless (White) Diamond Grading Scale

In fact, the very end of the colourless diamond colour scale is where the Fancy Colour Diamond colour scale begins. The last two groups in the white diamond colour scale are referred to as Cape Diamonds, which are actually Very Faint or Very Light Yellow or Brown Diamonds.

The combination between white and yellow diamonds (at the end of the white diamond colour grade scale)

However, Fancy Coloured Diamonds are graded on a different scale altogether. As opposed to single letter grades, Colour Diamonds are referred to by the actual colours within the stone.

When assessing a Fancy Coloured Diamond, there are two major characteristics that define the colour of the stone.

  • The Colour
  • The Intensity

Defining the Colour of a Diamond

There are twelve different main fancy colours. Coloured diamonds can contain one single pure colour or be combined with one, two, or even three overtones.

The greatest thing about diamond colour is that it never fades. A diamond can be stored for years, and other than simply wiping the diamond clean it will sparkle as much as it did the day it was first polished. Diamonds really are forever.


Approximately one third of all diamonds glow fluorescent under ultraviolet light. While the lack of fluorescence is no indication that a stone is not a diamond, a stone that glows in any way under ultraviolet light definitely is. Stones with lower fluorescence are more desired but this factor does not have a major affect on the diamonds overall value.

The History of Colour Grading

The Fancy Coloured Diamond grading scale was developed by the GIA in the mid-1970s. With the growth in popularity of Fancy Colours, the industry required a standardized list in order to better define and understand these stones. Because there are so many colour combinations available, the decision was made to grade Natural Fancy Coloured Diamonds with a description as opposed to a letter.

White stones, on the other hand, are graded on an alphabetic scale. Many years ago people used various colour grading systems including Roman and Arabic numerals to grade diamonds. Others used an 'A, B, and C' scale where 'AA' and 'AAA' would have been given to higher grade stones. In 1953 a man named Richard T. Liddicoat, from the GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) developed a standardized grading scale that measured colourless stones from 'D-Z.' The letter 'D' was chosen as an appropriate start for the scale as not to confuse it with the 'A' that existed prior. Also, since D was the first letter in the word 'diamond' it seemed to fit its position.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

Working with Northern Cross Diamonds was great!  The staff was very knowledgeable and provided me with a great deal of information about the canary yellow radiant cut diamond that I purchased.  They wanted to make sure that I understood everything about the stone before I made my decision.  The price was very competitive, less than other diamond providers.  Once I had made my decision to purchase, the process and delivery time was very quick.  Now I have a beautiful and valuable diamond in my possession, thanks to Northern Cross.  I hope this helps spread word about your services.

Read MoreSoultana A.
East York, Canada

I found Northern Cross Diamonds because I was looking for a colored diamond for an engagement ring to propose with. There are not many companies that have colored diamonds but they have quite a few. After considering for a couple of weeks, I decided to contact them to discuss the diamond I was looking at. The guy I worked with, Stephen, was very kind and helped me with the purchase process. I even had to ask them to ship my stone across the world to China.  After I received it I had no doubt about the high quality of their products. I appreciate Stephen and Northern Cross to help me to achieve my perfect proposal plan. I am very happy to have done buisness with them and I will definately recommend Northern Cross Diamonds to anyone looking to get married or who would like to add more stones for their collection. Again, thank you Stephen

Read MoreXu
Beijing, China

I have used Northern Cross Diamonds for the last couple years. I have a full time job, rental properties, stocks and mutual funds, yet I am always looking for new investment opportunities. Meeting and dealing with the professionals on staff (especially Stephen) has pointed out creative ways of maximizing the investment potential within coloured diamonds. They are always there to answer questions when I am curious on making a new investment and the experience has been nothing but great! 

Read MoreAngelo f.
Etobicoke, Canada


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