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Color Diamond Color Scales Or Grades - Don't Know Correct Terminology


Aimee Logsdon
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When I search online the color diamonds are certified by Gia and are fancy, fancy light, etc. But both times I've gone to local Jewelers they refer to a "C scale". One jeweler called me last week and said she'd found a beautiful C7. I asked if it was darker than the stone I had brought in and she said yes the one I brought in probably wasn't even on the C scale. It was a fancy dark yellow brown. I told her no thank you I don't want to go any darker than what I had brought and she told me the lighter C's aren't as desirable. Well, I don't care I like that color for an engagement ring. What's the difference and why don't online and local Jewelers use the same scale?

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The GIA language looks like this:

 

Fancy <saturation modifier> <color modifier> <body color>

 

So, for example:  fancy light greenish yellow.

 

Fancy means not being graded on the D-Z color scale.

The saturation goes very light, light, nothing, intense, vivid, dark.  

Color modifier is the secondary color.  A hyphenated color means the grader thought they were of equal importance.

Body color is obvious (sort of)

 

The C scale they're talking about is sort of all of is wrapped into one.  It's someone's idea of what is 'best'.  Ugly fancies are C1 and pretty ones are C7's.  It came from the Argyle people but few jewelers in the US seem to know that.  There's really no standard, there's no real agreement about the dividing lines, there isn't even agreement on what's better than what (as you've noticed).  It's a pointless grading scale.

 

Why don't jewelers use the GIA scales?  Mostly they do, at least here in the US.  

Edited by denverappraiser
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Hi - it's used quite a bit in the trade, at least here in Australia (was created by Argyle - similar to their pink diamond colour grading scale...only in reverse - - lower C numbers = lighter colour, whereas lower P number = more colour).

The term 'champagne' refers to diamonds graded on the fancy diamond scale from C1 to C6, where one is the lightest colour and six the most intense. Champagne diamonds graded C1 and C2 are light champagne, C3 and C4 medium champagne, and C5 and C6 dark champagne. Diamonds graded C7 are considered 'Cognac' coloured, as they exhibit the most intense, deep brown colour.

Like denverappraiser mentioned, unless it's got a GIA/Argyle colour grade attached, there can be quite a bit of variation as to what people (mainly jewellery shops that don't really know what they're dealing with) call champagnes/cognacs, and can sometimes be a bit misleading. Unfortunately, just because of the generally lower value, not all goods in these colours are certified.

Davidelevi might be the one to get some advice from on this.

Hope this helps

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Davidelevi might be the one to get some advice from on this.

I'm not sure I can add much to your explanation... but I like writing. ;)

 

The saturation goes very light, light, nothing, intense, vivid, dark.

And 'deep' somewhere between vivid and dark

 

When I search online the color diamonds are certified by Gia and are fancy, fancy light, etc. But both times I've gone to local Jewelers they refer to a "C scale". One jeweler called me last week and said she'd found a beautiful C7. I asked if it was darker than the stone I had brought in and she said yes the one I brought in probably wasn't even on the C scale. It was a fancy dark yellow brown. I told her no thank you I don't want to go any darker than what I had brought and she told me the lighter C's aren't as desirable. Well, I don't care I like that color for an engagement ring. What's the difference and why don't online and local Jewelers use the same scale?

... as explained by Neil and ADN, complete baloney:

 

1. The "Champagne/Cognac" grades are relatively ill defined (certainly compared to GIA's colour grading system, imperfect as it is).

 

2. A fancy dark brown is probably somewhere around C6 to C7. While "fancy dark" will go from quite dark to almost black, it's quite unlikely that you'd find stones that are noticeably darker

 

3. "Value" (price) wise, a very dark stone is worth less than a lighter, livelier one. Generally the maximum commercial value for a colour is reached around "vivid" or "deep" (there are no "vivid browns", AFAIK, because the tone of brown is too dark to start with).

 

4. "Desirability" is in the eye of the beholder.

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HI Aimee,

I agree, brown diamond grading is a bit confusing.

It's true that many industry traders use the Argyle scale of C1-C7

IMO the scale is really lacking in that subtle differences in color can't be reliably graded.

 

GIA's scale is far more detailed, yet that does not really solve this issue because there's so much variation which is so subtle it's just not possible to accurately, and repeatably categorize.

Plus, there's plenty of stones in the D-Z scale that have shades of brown which are saturated enough that they'd be fancy colors if the hue was pink, yellow, green or blue.

The result is that two stones with an identical GIA color grade can look very different in person.

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