M Color Diamonds: How to Appreciate its Faint Warm Tint

Last Updated on August 7, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

M color diamonds have often been relegated to the sidelines due to misinformed perceptions about their yellow tint. This shade is perceived as a flaw rather than an asset, leading to undue criticism.

M Color Diamond 2.01 ct vs1 excellent cut

Many buyers gravitate towards higher grades, erroneously assuming that anything less than near-colorless lacks beauty or value. This misconception propagates a negative image for M color diamonds. But don't let the grade fool you — M color diamonds, with their warm hues and distinctive glow, have an appeal all their own.

If we look past conventional wisdom, we might just unearth a gem in the rough. This guide aims to dispel these prejudices, shedding light on the true allure of M color diamonds, their significance in the grading scale, and why they deserve a closer look in your diamond exploration journey.

What Is an M Color Diamond?

As a diamontologist with years of experience in the field, I’ve come to recognize the unique charm that each diamond brings to the table, and M color diamonds are no exception.

Often depicted as the final rung in the "faint" category, M color grade diamonds represent diamonds that exhibit a noticeable tint of color, typically a warm yellow hue. This hue, however, is far from being a disadvantage. It can create a unique vintage aura and distinct character that can mesmerize even the most discerning eyes.

Understanding the GIA Color Grading Scale

To understand diamond color better, it's essential to discuss the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Color Grading Scale. The scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). Diamonds in the D-F range are considered colorless, those in the G-J range near colorless, while those in K-M are considered to have faint color. The rest in the N-Z range show increasing degrees of color.

Diamond Color Scale

Position and Significance of M Color Diamonds on the Scale

M color diamonds often find themselves undervalued. As a diamontologist, I've seen numerous M graded diamonds that exude an undeniable charisma, usually attributed to higher-grade stones. Their warm hue can add a charming antique feel to a piece of jewelry, often desired in vintage or heirloom pieces. They're the starting point of the faint yellow diamond range, but they carry their color with a unique elegance that, when paired with the right cut and setting, can outshine even some higher-graded diamonds.

Unfortunately, M diamonds often get sidelined, mostly because people tend to flock towards the "higher grade, higher value" myth. In my experience, however, I've found these lower color grade diamonds to be an absolute delight, especially for those seeking something different from the norm. They represent a unique intersection of quality and affordability in the diamond market. 

Characteristics of the M Diamond Color Grade

M grade diamonds are known for their distinct hue, a trait that can be either celebrated or misunderstood. This particular group of diamonds holds a special place on the color scale, with specific attributes that set them apart from their counterparts.

Color and Tone

Unlike diamonds that fall in the D-J range, M grade diamonds proudly exhibit a noticeable faint yellow hue. This tint may be discernable to the naked eye, particularly when compared to higher-grade diamonds, but rather than detracting from the diamond's beauty, it adds a unique warmth and richness. The yellowish tone that is found in most M color diamonds reminds me of sunset; they contain the natural essence of earth's richness, embodied in their color.

I should tell you though, that there are other M diamonds out there that might give other hues — some appearing brown, others gray. Like these stones below.

M yellow and M gray diamond top view

M yellow and M gray diamond top view in natural light

M yellow and M gray diamond side view

M yellow and M gray diamond viewed from the side

The Warmth and Vintage Look of M Color Diamonds

This warm color gives M color diamonds a vintage look and feel. In today's world, where antique and vintage styles are making a strong comeback in the jewelry industry, M color diamonds are a perfect fit. They carry a romantic, timeless appeal, reminiscent of eras gone by. They're incredibly well-suited to designs that draw on vintage influences, providing an authenticity that is hard to replicate with higher color grades.

In my career, I've seen these diamonds spark new life into heirloom pieces or lend an old-world charm to new jewelry designs. Each M grade diamond carries within it a story — the story of the earth, of time, and of the distinct journey it has undertaken from deep within the earth's crust to the gleaming piece of jewelry it becomes. It's this story, encapsulated in the warm hues of M diamonds, that makes them truly special. Their characteristics are not just physical traits but are narratives waiting to be unfolded, worn, and admired.

Comparisons With Higher and Lower Color Grade Diamonds

One of the most effective ways to understand and appreciate the unique qualities of M color diamonds is to compare them with diamonds of both higher and lower grades.

M vs F Color Diamonds

F color diamonds are positioned at the high end of the "colorless" category, thus, compared to M diamonds, they display virtually no color. This lack of color can be seen as a benefit if you're seeking a "pure", icy sparkle. However, this stark absence of hue can sometimes feel a bit cold and impersonal, lacking the character and warmth that M diamonds provide.

1.5 ct VS1 M Color Excellent Cut Strong Fluorescence

M diamond

1.5 ct F color VS1 excellent cut

F diamond

M vs I Color Diamonds

I color diamonds fall in the "near colorless" rung and are a step closer to M color diamonds on the grading scale. They possess a slight tint, more noticeable than F but less than M. When set in warmer metals with vintage settings, the color difference between I and M can be minimal to the naked eye. Yet, M diamonds, with their stronger warmth, can often offer more character and vintage appeal.

1.5 ct VS1 M Color Excellent Cut Strong Fluorescence

M diamond

Round cut I color

I diamond

M vs L and K Color Diamonds

K and L color diamonds show more color than I grade but less than M. These grades can offer a balance for those who appreciate a touch of warmth but aren't ready to embrace the more obvious tint of an M diamond. The distinction between K, L, and M can often come down to personal preference and the desire for warmth versus the traditional emphasis on colorlessness.

1.5 ct VS1 M Color Excellent Cut Strong Fluorescence

M diamond

1.5 ct VS1 L Color Excellent Cut

L diamond

1-5 ct K diamond with no fluorescence

K diamond

M vs Other Lower Grade Diamonds

As we move past M to lower grades, the yellow or brown tint becomes increasingly pronounced. For those who value colorlessness, these grades might be less desirable. But for those who revel in the character, warmth, and uniqueness that color can bring to a diamond, M color diamonds offer a beautiful balance. They provide a distinct warmth and vintage appeal, without the color becoming too dominant or distracting.

The Advantages of M Color Diamonds

The unique appeal of M color diamonds lies not just in their visual charm, but also in the range of advantages they offer to buyers. Here are some key benefits that make these diamonds worth considering.


One of the most significant advantages of M color grade diamonds is their affordability. As they fall in the middle of the color scale, they are generally priced lower than their higher-grade counterparts. This cost-effectiveness allows buyers to opt for a larger diamond or a better cut for the same price, making them a great choice for those working within a budget without compromising on beauty.

Vintage Appeal

The warmth of M diamonds lends them a vintage appeal that is currently on-trend in the jewelry world. They can imbue a piece with a certain nostalgia and romance that is perfect for those drawn to antique and vintage styles.


In a sea of colorless and near-colorless diamonds, an M color diamond stands out. Its distinct color and tone bring a character and uniqueness that set it apart. Owning an M colored diamond is a statement of individuality and an appreciation for the beauty in the less conventional.

Flexibility in Design

The unique warmth of M color diamonds offers versatility in jewelry design. They pair beautifully with yellow and rose gold settings, which enhance their warm tones. Additionally, their color can add depth and contrast to multi-stone pieces, allowing for truly unique and personalized designs.

The Downside of M Diamonds

While M color grade diamonds possess numerous advantages, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Understanding their potential drawbacks is essential to making an informed purchase.

The most notable downside is their noticeable yellow tint. If you're seeking a diamond with no discernable color to the naked eye, then M diamonds may not meet your expectations. They contrast sharply with higher grade, colorless diamonds and can appear distinctly warm when compared side by side.

Additionally, not every setting is complementary to an M color diamond. Platinum and white gold settings, for example, can make the diamond's color more pronounced due to their cool tones. This can be a disadvantage if you prefer these metals for your jewelry.

Lastly, M color diamonds, because of their position on the color scale, may not hold their value as well as diamonds in the colorless or near-colorless range. However, for those who value the unique charm and affordability of M diamonds, these downsides can easily be outweighed by the many benefits they offer.

Is an M Color Diamond Too Yellow for an Engagement Ring?

Choosing a diamond for an engagement ring is a highly personal decision, and the color of the diamond plays a significant role. The question of whether an M grade diamond is too yellow is subjective and largely depends on personal preference.

How Yellow Is an M Color Diamond?

M color diamonds, being at the start of the "faint yellow" category on the GIA scale, do have a noticeable yellow tint. However, this hue shouldn't be perceived as a negative attribute; instead, it's a character-defining feature of the diamond. The warmth of an M diamond can lend a charming vintage appeal to an engagement ring, setting it apart from the more traditional colorless or near-colorless options.

M Color Diamond 2.01 ct vs1 excellent cut

M Color Diamond - 2.01 ct VS1 Excellent Cut

To some, the warmth of an M diamond color may seem less desirable compared to a "pure" colorless sparkle. Yet to others, this hue adds a unique dimension to the ring and a nod to the classic eras of jewelry design. It's all about embracing the color and understanding that the yellow tint can contribute to the diamond's overall allure, rather than detracting from it.

Ultimately, the decision depends on the wearer's taste. If a warmer, more vintage look appeals, an M diamond could be a perfect choice for an engagement ring. However, if the preference leans towards a more traditional, colorless sparkle, a higher-grade diamond might be more suitable. As with any significant purchase, it's crucial to consider what truly resonates with personal style and aesthetics.

How to Choose an M Color Diamond

The process of choosing an M diamond is a journey that requires a careful balance of personal preference, knowledge of diamonds, and the right approach.

Determining Personal Preference for Diamond Color

The first step involves understanding your preference for diamond color. If you are drawn towards the warmth and vintage appeal of M color diamonds, then these diamonds should be on your shortlist. Remember, the color of the diamond is a key aspect that defines its character. Embrace the color as a feature rather than a flaw, and allow your personal aesthetic to guide your choice.

Balancing Color with Other 4Cs (Cut, Clarity, Carat)

Choosing an M color diamond is also about balancing color with the other 'Four Cs' of diamond quality – cut, clarity, and carat weight. For example, a well-cut M color diamond can display beautiful brilliance and fire, distracting the eye from any color. Similarly, a larger M diamond of high clarity can be a stunning choice, offering size and quality at a more affordable price.

Choosing a Cut

Cut is a particularly important factor when choosing an M color diamond. Certain cuts, like the round brilliant, are more successful at dispersing light and minimizing the appearance of color. Other cuts, such as the emerald or Asscher, due to their large, open facets, might highlight the color more.

Cut and the Perception of Color in a Diamond

The way a diamond is cut can significantly impact how its color is perceived. Well-cut diamonds can manipulate light in a way that minimizes the appearance of color, making the diamond appear whiter. Hence, choosing a high-quality cut can elevate the beauty of an M color diamond, emphasizing its brilliance over its color.

Choosing an M color diamond is about recognizing and appreciating its unique qualities, understanding the importance of balancing these qualities with the other aspects of diamond grading, and aligning these factors with personal taste and style.

How to Make an M Diamond Look Good

Enhancing the beauty of an M color diamond is all about playing to its strengths. From the right setting to the choice of metal, each decision can emphasize its warmth and vintage appeal.

Ideal Settings

Choosing the right setting is crucial in making an M diamond look its best. Settings that allow the diamond's warmth to shine through are ideal. Vintage and antique-style settings can bring out the romantic charm of M color diamonds. Bezel settings can also enhance their color by providing a contrast that accentuates the diamond's warmth.

Ideal Metals for M Color Diamonds

The type of metal you choose for your diamond setting plays a significant role in how an M color diamond is perceived. Here's a breakdown of different metal types and how they interact with M color diamonds:

Yellow Gold

This is a classic choice and tends to be very complementary to M color diamonds. The warm undertones of yellow gold can match the warm tones of the diamond, creating a harmonious look. In this setting, the yellow tint of the diamond color is less noticeable and instead blends with the overall design.

1.5 ct oval SI2 M diamond in open shoulder yellow gold setting

1.5-ct oval SI2 M diamond in open shoulder yellow gold setting (via Eragem)

Rose Gold

Rose gold is another excellent choice for M color diamonds. The pinkish hue of rose gold imparts a romantic and vintage charm, which beautifully complements the warmth of M diamonds. Like yellow gold, rose gold can help the diamond's color blend seamlessly with the overall design.

White Gold or Platinum

White gold and platinum, with their cooler tones, can make the yellow tint of an M color diamond more noticeable due to the contrast. However, this doesn't mean they can't work well with M diamonds. If used creatively, the contrast can add depth and uniqueness to the piece, and the cool tones can provide a modern touch to the overall design.

1.38 ct square emerald cut M color VS1 in platinum

M Color Diamond - 1.38 carat VS1 emerald cut in platinum (via Eragem)

Two-Tone Metals

Two-tone settings, which combine two different metal colors, can also work with M color diamonds. For example, a two-tone setting combining yellow and white gold or platinum can offer the warmth needed to complement the diamond while adding a unique stylistic element.

0.90-carat VS2 M color diamond engagement ring in platinum prong and 14k gold knife edge setting

0.90-carat VS2 M color diamond engagement ring in platinum prong and 14k gold knife edge setting (via Eragem)

Ideal Styles for M Diamonds

The style of the setting can greatly impact how an M color diamond is showcased, playing a pivotal role in accentuating its unique warmth and charm.

Bezel Setting

A bezel setting, where the diamond is completely encircled by metal, can help to enhance the diamond's color by providing a color contrast. This style can make M diamonds appear more vibrant and can offer a modern, sleek look.

Halo Setting

A halo setting involves a central stone being surrounded by smaller diamonds. This style can work well with M color diamonds, particularly if the halo is made of colorless diamonds. The contrast between the warmer center stone and the surrounding diamonds can create a stunning effect that draws attention to the central diamond.

Pave Setting

A pave setting, where the band is lined with small diamonds, can add extra sparkle and draw the eye towards the center M color diamond. Choosing smaller M color diamonds for the pave setting can create a consistent, warm glow throughout the ring.

1.02 carat cushion cut SI2 M color diamond in 14k halo pave gold setting

Combining halo and pave: 1.02-ct cushion cut SI2 M color diamond in 14k gold setting (via Eragem)

Solitaire Setting

A solitaire setting is a classic choice that puts the diamond front and center. For an M color diamond, a solitaire setting in yellow or rose gold can enhance the diamond's warmth and offer a timeless, elegant look.

3.17-carat I1 M color diamond engagement ring in platinum

M Color Diamond - 3.17 I1 M color diamond solitaire engagement ring in platinum (via Eragem)

Vintage Setting

Given the warm, old-world charm of M diamonds, they are often perfectly suited to vintage settings. Intricate detailing and designs that harken back to past eras can truly make the diamond's unique color stand out.

The website Eragem is chock-full of stunning vintage M diamond pieces that will truly set your heart a-flutter.

How Much Is an M Colored Diamond? Diamond Color and Price

Throughout my experience working with some of the biggest diamond jewelry retailers in the country, I've seen firsthand how the 4Cs — carat, cut, clarity, and color — impact a diamond's price. M color diamonds, being part of the "faint" color category, typically are less costly than their counterparts in the colorless or near-colorless brackets. This pricing isn't a reflection of inferior quality, but rather an acknowledgment of their distinctive color characteristics.

Many clients find exceptional value in M diamonds due to their vintage charm. Their pricing allows one to consider a larger stone or better cut without exceeding the budget of a higher grade color.

However, all Four Cs influence a diamond's price. Thus, an M diamond with high clarity or excellent cut may still command a high price. Also, remember diamond prices can vary based on market trends and overall economic conditions. It's always wise to conduct thorough research and seek expert advice to ensure a worthwhile investment.

How to Purchase M Color Diamonds

Having worked with prominent diamond retailers, I can guide you through the process of purchasing M diamonds, which involves understanding where to buy, how to buy, and the importance of certified grading reports.

The Best Places to Buy an M Color Diamond

Both online and physical stores have their pros and cons. Brick-and-mortar stores allow you to see the diamond in person, but they often have higher prices due to overhead costs. Online retailers, like Blue Nile and James Allen, provide a wider selection and competitive prices, but ensure they offer a reliable return policy.

Tip for Buying M Color Diamonds Online and in Physical Stores

When buying an M color diamond, prioritize reputable sellers that provide detailed product descriptions and high-resolution images or 360-degree videos for online purchases. Consult with the seller's gemologists or customer service for additional insights.

Importance of Certified Grading Reports

Never underestimate the importance of a certified grading report from a trusted laboratory like the GIA or AGS. These reports verify the diamond's attributes, including its color grade.

FAQs on M Color Diamonds

Are M color diamonds considered good?

The beauty of M diamonds, despite being towards the lower end of the GIA scale, truly lies in the eye of the beholder. If you're drawn to a vintage aesthetic or warm hue, an M diamond could be a perfect fit for you.

Can you notice the yellow in an M color diamond?

The yellow or brown tint in an M color diamond is typically noticeable, particularly when compared to diamonds of higher color grades. However, this warmth can be enhanced and transformed into a desirable feature with the right setting and metal.

Are M color diamonds suitable for engagement rings?

Absolutely! M color diamonds can make unique, stunning engagement rings, particularly for those who appreciate their warm, vintage charm. The choice is largely a matter of personal preference.

How can I make my M diamond look less yellow?

Choosing an appropriate setting and metal can have a significant impact on the perceived color of an M diamond. Opting for yellow or rose gold settings can augment the diamond's warmth, and certain styles can highlight the best features of M color diamonds.

Is an M diamond less valuable?

While M color diamonds are less expensive than diamonds of higher color grades, this doesn't equate to lesser value. Value can be highly subjective. For those who cherish the warm tones of an M color diamond, they can be considered priceless.

Should You Buy an M Color Grade Diamond?

Deciding whether to buy an M color grade diamond boils down to personal preference and style. These diamonds possess a unique charm, offering a warm, vintage aesthetic that can be truly captivating. Their relative affordability compared to higher color grades presents an opportunity for greater size or better cut within the same budget.

If you appreciate the allure of their distinctive tones and can embrace the color as part of the diamond's character, then an M color grade diamond could be the perfect gemstone for you. Always consult with a trusted diamond expert or gemologist to make the most informed decision.

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