Diamond color vs clarity – Which one should you prioritize?

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!