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Most diamonds appear colorless but actually have slight tones of yellow or brown. The closer the stone comes to colorless, the more valuable it is. Diamonds are graded on a color scale ranging from D (colorless) to Z (heavily tinted.) Only a highly skilled professional will detect any color in E or F stones, and the color in diamonds rated up to J will be virtually invisible when set in a ring or other jewelry.
Color is only one of the four C's so even when a stone has a visible tint, such as K or above, it can still be very lovely if it has good clarity and cut. How the diamond is set can make a difference, too; you might not want to put a truly colorless diamond in a yellow gold setting since the yellow color will reflect in the stone. On the other hand, a slightly yellow stone will appear whiter in a yellow gold setting.
Diamonds also come in a wide variety of other colors, including red, blue, green and a bright yellow known as "canary." These are graded as Z+ and are known as "fancy" diamonds. Ones with good color are very rare and can sell for much more per carat than white diamonds.
The following is the GIA color scale, which is very commonly used in the United States: