Diamond Color Vs Clarity

You have surely read about the fact that the diamond cut is the most important factor in a diamond that you should never compromise on. In my post about the diamond cut I have described thoroughly why you should make sure to get a diamond with an Excellent/Ideal cut grade (depending on the grading lab) and accept nothing less.

The diamond color and clarity however, are factors than can be easily compromised to get the biggest bang for your buck. It is even possible to do it in ways where you would not even notice any difference with your eyes from the best color and clarity grades – and you can save yourself a lot of money!

Now, I get often asked questions by the visitors of my website about diamond color vs clarity and which one is the better to compromise on to get the best price for the best diamond. So, is diamond color or clarity more important?

Is diamond color or clarity more important

I will look at this issue from all angles and I will first describe how to compromise on a diamond’s clarity and color. Finally, I will draw a conclusion and explain to you which one you should compromise on more to get the best deal for your money!

How to compromise on the diamond clarity

I think that we all agree that we want to make sure to have a diamond that is eye-clean. An eye-clean diamond is a diamond where no inclusions can be seen with the naked eye!

In my experience GIA graded diamonds with a clarity grade of VS1 or better are always eye-clean. This is why VS2, SI1 or SI2 diamonds are the perfect clarity range to browse for really cheap and eye-clean diamonds.

The VS2 – SI2 clarity range is comparably cheap and there are quite some “gems” that can be found within that range. You can find eye-clean and not eye-clean diamonds within that range and this is why it is super important to have a very close look at the diamond beforehand.

Browsing through diamonds at James Allen

Now, browsing through VS2 – SI2 clarity graded diamonds you will likely find eye-clean and not eye-clean diamonds.

The pictures beneath show you examples of eye-clean and not eye-clean diamonds within the VS2 – SI2 clarity range.

eye-clean and not eye-clean real life diamond examples within the VS2 - SI2 clarity range

You want to make sure to get an eye-clean diamond that has the lowest possible clarity grade like SI1 or SI2. These diamonds will be cheaper and can save you a lot of money.

The best place to look at diamonds very closely is James Allen with its magnified high definition 360° videos of all its diamonds! Currently, there is no other diamond online vendor that let’s you have such a close look at all its diamonds!

However, you will have to take into consideration that you get to have a 20x magnification of all the diamonds at James Allen. If you even use James Allen latest Super Zoom function you even get to have a 40x magnification of all the diamonds! Diamonds are however always graded with a 10x magnification loupe. With James Allen’s Super Zoom function you will sometimes even be able to make out small inclusions in IF graded diamonds! These are the ones that are internally flawless!

Thus, in order to make out whether a diamond is eye-clean or not I would only have a look at the standard 20x magnification of the diamond. If there is an inclusion that is starkly noticeable, then the diamond is most likely not eye-clean. However, if the inclusion is hard to make out on the 20x magnification or only from a certain angle, then the diamond will most likely be eye-clean.
The more time you take, the more likely you will be to find eye-clean diamonds within the VS2 – SI2 clarity ranges.

The bottomline in compromising in diamond clarity is to always compromise on the diamond clarity in a way that the diamond remains eye-clean. Anything else, would not make any sense because noticeable inclusions immensely distract from the beauty of the diamond!

How to compromise on the diamond color

Compromising on the diamond color is far easier than compromising on the diamond clarity and there are not many things you will have to consider when doing it.

Basically, you just pick the color grade that you want to have. You have to be aware that the lower the clarity grade of a diamond, the lower the diamond price will be. In the table below you can clearly see how diamond prices go down the lower the color grade is (with all the other parameters remaining the same):

Diamond color vs. clarity? Price table showing the correlation of diamond color and price

As I have described in my post about diamond color, choosing any color grade higher than G does not make any sense if you are out there to get the best cost/performance ratio. It is highly unlikely that you would notice any difference from the very best color grade.

Please check out this amazing diamond color simulator and you will have a better idea what each color grade should look like:

James Allen diamond color simulator

You might see a difference between a D and a G colored diamond when they are held directly next to each other and if they are both loose diamonds. But if both diamonds are set onto a ring it is highly unlikely that you would notice any real difference with your bare eyes because diamonds tend to pick up the color of the ring metal.

My recommendations for diamond color grades are usually as follows if you want to make the best deal for your money:

Color grades recommendations for your diamond

Just have a look at this real life diamond color chart and you will see why it really does not make too much sense to go for the best clarity grades:

Colorless Diamonds (D-F):

D colored diamond E colored diamond F colored diamond
D Color E Color F Color

Near Colorless Diamonds (G-J):

G colored diamond H colored diamond I colored diamond J colored diamond
G Color H Color I Color J Color

Faint Color Diamonds (K):

K colored diamond
K Color

You mainly only see a difference between color grades from the back view of a diamond.

Furthermore, you only see the differences so well in the examples above because you are looking at loose diamonds. Once your diamond is set on a ring setting it will pick up some of the metal’s color anyway.

Diamond color vs clarity – So which one should you compromise on more?

Now, the thing you need to understand in this context however is the following: Once you have an eye-clean diamond and you cannot see any inclusions with your bare eyes it does not make any difference whether you get a diamond with a better clarity grade.

You could be lucky and have found an eye-clean SI1 or even SI2 graded diamond. For such a diamond it would not make any difference if you compared it to an IF graded diamond because to the naked eye both would appear to be the same!

With the diamond color however, it is different! I do have to admit that I find it very difficult to distinguish even between a D and an F graded diamond! Distinguishing between a D and a G graded diamond on the other hand is quite accomplishable. Thus, the difference in the diamond color is something that you will be able to appreciate with your bare eyes if you make the effort to go for a better color grade.

Therefore, I think that it is wiser to prioritize the diamond color BUT only after you have made sure that your diamond is eye-clean!

It does definitely make a difference to the bare eye if you have got a G or an J colored diamond! Depending on how good you are at disginguishing colors with your eyes it might also very well be that you can see a difference between a G and an I colored diamond.

Thus, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, I would begin by filtering for diamonds within the VS1 – SI2 clarity range and try to look out for an eye-clean diamond. The money you save on the clarity can thus be reinvested in the color – or of course the carat size.

If you have a concrete question about whether a diamond is eye-clean or not please don’t hesitate to contact me via mail or drop me a comment. I always answer in person and usually within 24 hours!

Diamond Color Vs Clarity
2.94 (58.85%) 52 votes

About 

Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.

60 Comments

  1. Your comments are excellent and highly informative.
    Will u please tell the approximate cost of following diamond ring.
    0.33 carats round
    D.E color. vvs Clarity
    Good cut

    • Hi Ranganayaki,

      Thanks for your feedback! Diamonds are priced depending on their manufacturer/vendor, so I couldn’t give you an estimate. But if you’ll look at James Allen’s filter tool here, you can get an idea of your 4Cs’ price range. Although I wouldn’t recommend a good cut, so if you can, please opt for an Ideal/Excellent cut to assure optimal light performance. Goodluck!

  2. Hi Sebastian. I am purchasing a rectangular radiant shape diamond 1 carat (or slightly under) on a white gold halo setting and I’m wondering if you can give me feedback as to what cut to choose, color, and clarity for the best bang for my buck? Your articles were extremely helpful. Last diamond I saw was E color and SI3 with an inclusion that was visible to the eye. Even my partner was discouraged. Any feedback would help. Thank you!

    • Hi Saida,

      Thanks for your feedback! Radiants’ large facets would require high color and clarity grading as they can easily display imperfections. I would always recommend the best cut possible and an eye clean stone. So, opt for an excellent/ideal cut and you may go lower in clarity as long there’s no visible inclusions. The sweet spot is between SI1-VS1. For color, I suggest F-G color.

      Hope that helps, cheers!

  3. Hi Sebastian

    Please can you help me… I have recently lost the diamond out of my engagement ring. Very Sad 🙁
    I have apprx $3200 US to spend on a diamond. I’m looking for a round cut and around 0.74. The ring is yellow gold but setting is platinum
    What is the best color, clarity to go for?
    It’s so overwhelming…

    • Hi Laura,

      So sorry to hear that. I’m sure you’ll find one that’s just as special. 🙂 Now, I would recommend VS1-VS2 for clarity and an H color if it will be set on a platinum setting. Actually, you may still upgrade carat-wise or opt for the best cut/proportions possible because diamonds in your preferred specs are usually priced lower than the budget you mentioned. Take a look at these diamonds filtered with your 4Cs on James Allen.

      Hope that helps, cheers!

  4. I am looking for diamond stud earrings mounted on white gold for a valentines gift. I have it narrowed to two choices and would like your input as to what would look better on her ear in terms of sparkle vs size etc.:
    1. 1.0 TCW Color = F Clarity = VS2 ($900.00)
    2. 1.21 TCW Color= H Clarity = VS1 ($1,040)

  5. hi how about a round diamond .90ct VVS1 G
    6.19-6.24 x 3.79 mm
    table is 56%
    depth is 61%
    crown is 34%

    paid for 7,084.51 cad for everything (setting,duties and tax). Do you think its a worth it price? Thanks

  6. I am about to purchase a 18 Ct White Gold Setting
    1 Ct Round Brilliant Cut Diamond
    Si1/H Clarity and Colour GIA Certified for 7000 dollars is it a good price? Help please.

    • Hi Yazmin,

      Can you please provide the cut grade? I won’t be able to say much if there’s no cut grade as it’s the most important factor when evaluating a diamond. I would recommend an excellent of ideal cut. Although very good cuts are sometimes okay if the gem is within ideal proportions. Other than that, make sure it’s eye clean since it’s in the SI1 clarity range.

      Maybe you can provide the exact proportions and image/video of the diamond, so we can better know if it’s a good deal. Cheers! 🙂

  7. Hi –
    I looked at a round brilliant 2.20 carat diamond today. The clarity was SI2, color was K and it was a triple excellent in polish, symmetry and cut grade. I’m not sure whether I should proceed with the process. I’m extremely hesitant about the color grade but the triple excellence really makes the diamond shine especially since the cut grade is perfect. It is also GIA certified. I do see a black carbon with my naked eye if I focus enough on the spot it is on which is around 6 o’clock. What is your opinion on this diamond and how much do you think I should spend on it?

    • Hi Abigail,

      A Triple Excellent doesn’t mean much if the cut is not really perfect. GIA gives an Excellent cut grade to diamonds that are outside of super ideal cut proportions (34.0° – 35.0° crown angle and 40.6° – 41.0° pavilion angle). Also, if you can see an inclusion with your naked eyes, then it should be avoided. This is all I can say without seeing the diamond and knowing more about the exact proportions.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  8. Hello,
    I am currently looking at a 6.55 pear shaped diamond with 2 GIA certificates. it measures 16.60X11.49X5.11 proportions: table 45% table and depth 43.7%.

    The GIA describes it as a type IIa diamond. It is a VVS1 However, the color grade is L faint brown and has a faint fluorescence. Should I even consider this stone with the L color?
    The

    • Hello Jasmine,

      L colored diamonds should only be considered for yellow gold rings. Even then, J or K color might be better. Also, the excellent cut proportions for pear shapes are:
      Table %: 53-63
      Depth %: 58-62

      This means the proportions you’ve provided are way off. To achieve optimal brilliance, you might want to consider better options out there. Goodluck! 🙂

  9. Hi sebastian. Your page is awesome! I am having difficulty in choosing between these two:
    1. 0.9 crt, F color, vvs2, excellent cut, flourence none; or
    2. 1.17 crt, I color, vvs2, excellent cut, flourencr none.

    People are telling me to better get the F color diamond but for of course the I color diamond is bigger.

    Your input would really really help me 🙂

    Thanks

    • Hi there, Gaby!

      Thanks for your feedback. 🙂 Now, let’s get to your query. F color is usually an overkill and an I-color diamond will still look great on any white gold or platinum engagement ring. Know more about The Best Diamond Color for White Gold Rings here. And if you can get more carat this way and the price is about the same, then the second option seems like a better deal.

      Hope that helps, cheers!

    • Hi there, Howie! I would go for the latter because the grades better than VS1 won’t give you the maximum value for your money. Opt for an Eye Clean SI1-VS1 instead as they’re cheaper, but still bear superb quality in terms of clarity.

  10. Which one of these diamonds suppose to have more sparkle? h-vvs2 or the d-si1? They r both ideal cut an they r both over a carat!

    • Hello Mikey,

      Cut determines the sparkle of the diamond. So, what you can do is to take a look at the grading report (preferably GIA or AGS) of the gem and check which one has better proportions. Here’s a reference of the ideal cut proportions: http://yourdiamondteacher.com/diamond-4cs/cut/

      Also, make sure that they are eye clean, the gem that shows no visible inclusions especially on the table facet is the better choice. Cheers! 🙂

  11. Hello Sebastian I just purchased a 1.3 ct. D color Si2 oval diamond set in a Platinum ring. I paid $9200. Just wanted to know if you think my purchase is a good, fair, or bad deal. Thank you Dave

    • Hi Dave,

      There are other factors that determine the quality of the diamond than just the 4Cs. Is your diamond eye clean or does it show no visible inclusions? Is it GIA or AGS certified? Maybe you can show me the exact picture or 360-degree video, so I can better assess your gem. 🙂

  12. Hi Sebastian,
    I need your help, which is between this diamond do I have to choose
    F VS1, G VS and G SI1
    And does the size important

    I would appreciate if you would answer my question

    • Hi Lita,

      I would prefer G VS and G SI1 if they’re eye clean. And the importance of carat size depends on your liking. If you have a big budget, why not go bigger. But bigger isn’t always better as it’s all about the cut.

      Hope that helps, cheers! 🙂

  13. I was able to find a E & F color at SI1 clarity at a local outlet mall for $4499 ea. It’s a $9,000 diamond and I got it for a steal. Guys out there, the ring is going to come in 3 parts: the Diamond, the band, and the head/labor…be sure to leave wiggle room in your budget. ie, if your budget is $6,000 try to keep the diamond around $4,000…the band and workmanship could cost another $2,000 depending if it has a halo or other smaller diamonds associated with it; or if it is platinum expect to pay extra.

    • Hi J,

      That’s a great deal especially if the diamonds bear excellent cuts. And you’re right about leaving a wiggle room in the budget, however, for online diamond shops, you will have to filter loose diamonds first, then the setting and the band, and that’s it. You can find complete rings for less than the added value of $2,000. Today’s reputable online shops have advanced filter tools to make the search way easier for you. 🙂

  14. Hi Sebastian,
    Can you please let me know which one is better for me to purchase,
    0.74 princess cut G-I2 polished good 14white gold $5.999
    0.73 princess cut H-I1 polished, good 18c white gold $6.699
    Thank you

  15. What is the fluorescence of a diamond?
    I see none; faint; med blue & strong blue.
    Which is the most desirable?
    Thank you:)

    • Hi Jean,

      Desirability actually depends on your liking. Diamond fluorescence describes a diamond’s response to UV light. And the most common color is blue which applies to around 98% of all diamonds with fluorescence. There are however diamonds with white, yellow, green, and even pink fluorescence.

      The thing is, they can look impressive and be around 10% – 15% cheaper, but sometimes, they can also cause haziness in a diamond. In cases where the fluorescence does not cause any haziness, then there would only be pros. Take a look at this post to know more: http://yourdiamondteacher.com/diamond-4cs/color/diamond-fluorescence-good-bad/

    • Hi Jessie,

      There are a few factors to consider a diamond good. First is the cut. Does it have a great cut? Always opt for an excellent or ideal cut. Although, in some cases, very good cuts will do. Next, do you like this color? Then, for SI2, is it eye clean or is there no visible dark inclusions? The only way to know – if not in person – is to see its photo or video in 20x magnification like what James Allen offers. If you’ve said yes to all three and the gem is backed by GIA or AGS, then that diamond has good quality indeed.

      Hope this answers your question, cheers!

    • Hey Aaron,

      Since all of them have the same cut, except for the last one, I would exclude the worst cut of the bunch. Given the same carat weight and color range, it then all boils down to the first three diamonds in terms of clarity. And upon seeing the gems in 20x magnification, it’s apparent that the first two contain dark, visible inclusions on the table facet and near the corner of the gem. So, since the golden rule is to consider eye clean diamonds, I would recommend the thrid one for you to pick.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  16. Hi Sebastian,
    I would like to take your opinion in which of these two tennis bracelet would you choose:
    1. I-J color / VVS-VS clarity / pieces is Round Cut on a white cold metal
    2. F-G color / SI clarity / pieces is Round Cut on a white cold metal

    • Hi there Dana,

      The choice depends on one’s preference. Would you like to see a more icy-white color (F-G) or would a hint of yellow (I-J) be okay? For the clarity, I usually recommend VS2 because it’s virtually eye clean and is much affordable. Although there are also eye clean SI1s as well. For VVS, you won’t really notice the difference when it’s compared to a VS clarity gem.

      So, before I choose, I would have to view them in 20x magnification or 360° HD videos like the one on James Allen to guarantee that it’s eye clean. And if both diamonds are eye clean, then the only choice left is the color to your liking. 🙂

  17. Thank you so much for the James Allen recommendation. I was literally about to buy a diamond based on sample photos/GIA report renderings. Was about to buy a VS2 with a big gash the middle, just because of the clarity rating and not understanding what that would look like. Now I can actually see what those inclusions mean! Can’t believe other sites don’t have actual photos…

    • Hi Mike,

      Glad to hear that! That’s why James Allen is currently the best. Their website technology attracts modern shoppers and smart consumers. People have been buying blindly for years, so it’s nice to get a professional upgrade in online diamond shopping. 🙂

      Cheers!

  18. Hi, I’ve been reading your guides and I must say I would recommend this to anyone. The images and explanations are amazing…

    Anyway, I’m having a tough time because of either declining site or just being overwhelmed by what you call Brick Store sales. We have a very well known Jewelry store here in Omaha called Borsheims but they seem to more for the Rich and Famous.

    I guess I’m looking for the perfect setup for my future wife. I’d like to get her something that our children would admire years from now after were gone but on a limited budget ($4 – $5K) with 2 – 3 Years of payments.

    Anyway, we came upon something called Canadian Rocks and they seem to provide allot of detail in regards to their diamonds and ideal cuts with their own grading system. I seem to be able to pickup the color is a bit more yellow for a clear diamond and they have SI1’s but I don’t seem to be able to pick out eye clean for a princes cut or is it even possible? I’m guessing with princess we need to go to much higher quality diamond?

    Anyway, through all of this turmoil I’ve learned that I need reading glasses and will have them in the next few days and so maybe the search will get easier.

    With my goals of getting the best diamond for my buck would you recommend against a princess or Canadian Rocks? They don’t seem to provide loose diamonds at all from the store we visited…

    Thanks In Advance

    • Hi Don,

      Thanks for your feedback! Canadian Rocks is a reputable company and Eye Clean SI1 princess cuts do exist. But, if you would like to see more choices and actually see the diamonds through 360-degree HD videos and up to 40x magnification, I’d recommend visiting the James Allen website. Virtually all their diamonds are graded by top US labs – GIA and AGS.

      Even if you don’t buy from James Allen, skimming through their collection and cuztomizing your search through their filter tool will give you an idea if the 4Cs you had in mind or Canadian Rocks is still worth it. 🙂

      Best of luck to your search!

    • Hi Carnell,

      It all depends on the cut. If what you have is an excellent/ideal cut, then you should definitely ask more. Even more if it is Eye Clean or there’s no visible dark inclusions. Here’s the price range of your diamond’s specs in James Allen to give you an idea.

      Goodluck! 🙂

  19. Hey James,

    Which would you choose between these 3?
    First one is $800 more than the last two.
    1) 2ct, I color, SI1, Good Cut, Medium Blue Fluorescence
    2) 2ct, I color, SI2, Good Cut, No Fluorescence
    3) 2.01ct, I color, SI2, Very Good Cut, No Fluorescence

    • Hi Jack,

      I would recommend an excellent/ideal cut, but if these are your only choices, I’d definitely pick the one with a better cut which is #3.

      Cheers!

  20. Hi Sebastian,
    Thanks for the info. Why is cut important? I am looking to upgrade my ring and was offered a diamond the following diamond D SI3 $5700. Because I don’t know much about diamonds, its hard for me to determine of this is a good buy. The diamond is certified but not GIA certified. Any help would be great.

    • Hi Kk,

      Cut is the most important characteristic of a diamond because it determines its light and visual performance. If your gem is cut in excellent proportions, then the light that will pass through in and out of it will be unobstructed, and thus, will give your diamond a superb sparkle!

      I would recommend a GIA or AGS certified diamond, but if not, make sure it’s Eye Clean. Meaning, you can’t see inclusions/flaws in 10x magnification. It’s best to see the diamond before buying because no two diamonds are alike even if they’re in the same grade. Why don’t you check out James Allen’s website for starters.

      Use the filter tool to find a diamond to your liking, then view it with their 360-degree HD video. They’re currently the best diamond shop because of this technology. This will show you how various grades differ and eventually give you an idea if the gem you’re being offered is indeed a good buy.

      Goodluck! 🙂

  21. My daughter and her boyfriend are looking for an engagement ring. She wants 14kt or 18kt yellow gold. Would it be okay to go with an eye clean (meaning nothing visible to the naked eye) in an SI1 and be fine b/c it is in a yellow gold setting? Also because it is in the yellow gold setting it would be fine to get anything in a GH color? Thank you! Enjoy your day!

    • Hi Molly,
      Absolutely! The diamond with eye clean SI1 clarity and G/H color would appear whiter against the yellow gold setting. So it’s totally fine to compromise with color and clarity. As long as you opt for the best cut and it’s eye clean, you got yourself a great deal. 🙂

  22. 0.43 / D / 3ex / si1 (comes wid mini diamonds on d side of the ring)
    Or
    0.43/ E / 3ex / vs1 (simple ring)…
    Which is best…??

    Having a dilemma… Price 30usd difference (si1 cheaper)

    • Hi Vishal,

      I suggest having a look at the diamond in 20x magnification like the one in James Allen. By viewing the diamond up close, you can actually see if the SI1 is eye clean. And if it is, then that’s the better choice, given that you also prefer a more stylish setting.

      Hope this helps, goodluck! 🙂

  23. I was faced with choosing an I-VS2 diamond and another G-SI1 diamond. Both are completely eye-clean. After reading this post I decided to go for the G-SI1 diamond. It really makes more sense.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Rob,
      to be honest I would choose none of these diamonds because I would only choose a diamond with the best cut grade.
      It seems to me as though you badly want to have a diamond with at least 1 carat. This is perfectly legit. But I would rather compromise on the color than on the diamond cut. You can easily tone down the color of your diamonds without having anyone notice. You can reference this table to pick a color that will look completely colorless depending on the diamond and ring setting.
      If you have any more questions, just contact me.
      contact me

      .

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