The Diamond Color Grading System starts with D, why not A?

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Last updated: September 1st, 2016

A frequent question asked here at our NYC Wholesale Diamonds office in the new York Diamond District is a logical one for sure:

Why does the Diamond Color Grading System start with D?
The answer is to avoid confusion, and any association with the outdated, inaccurate pre GIA Color Grading systems.
The first ever official grading of Diamonds was in England by the London Diamond Syndicate – in order to sort through rough Diamonds for sale. From that point up until the 1940s there were many different color systems used by diamond traders.

Letters of the alphabet were used (A, AA, AAA; A, B and C, with multiple A’s for the best stones), Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman Numerals(I, II, III), and descriptions such asgolconda”,  “river”,  “jagers”,  “cape”,  “blue white”, “fine white”,  “gem blue” and “brown” and more…

Comparing and determining Diamond Color was confusing, inconsistent and inaccurate.

Then along came the Gemological Institute of America, bringing order, accuracy, and integrity to the diamond industry. The Color Grading Scale along with so many of the GIA’s incredible work in the field of diamond grading, was developed in the 1940’s and 50’s. The GIA wanted a fresh start and to avoid any association with the past bedlam surrounding Color Grading. Thus the Color Grading System we have today was born – starting not with the already confusing I, 1 or A …but the fresh and untouched letter D. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Today, across the Globe, Diamond experts fully co-operate and use the GIA Diamond Grading Chart, ranging from Perfect, Colorless “D” to Yellowish, Brownish “Z”.

The GIA exists to protect the consumer, as well as those in the industry with integrity. We are all quite thankful for its existence.

A unique, personal jeweler who works nationwide, Keith Saxe is GIA and FIT trained and has been a trusted high end diamond jewelry specialist for 27 years. He is the founder and president ​of NYC Wholesale Diamonds located at 47 West 47th Street Suite 3A in the New York City Diamond District. His website is and he authors a blog ​Keith has recently been named to The Diamond Council of America, is a member of the Jewelers Board of Trade, and Jewelers of America​. He offers GIA Certified Ideal Cut Diamonds,​and state of the art fine jewelry designs at low wholesale prices. Keith has been named the N.Y. Diamond District’s Favorite Jeweler by the N.Y. Post’s Savvy Shopper column, had his diamond education articles published, been recommended in the New York Times, national gift reporter Robyn Spizman’s ‘Perfect Present Guide’ and ‘The GIFTionary’, as well as having his Diamond Halo Engagement Ring design featured on ‘The Knot.’

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