Diamond Color Vs Clarity

After knowing of the science of sparkle and why you should never compromise on the diamond cut, you probably wonder if the other 4Cs can be flexed to suit your taste and budget. If the diamond cut requires only Excellent/Ideal grades by the top labs, is it the same for all the other diamond factors?

save money with IF Diamonds

Good news is, diamond color and diamond clarity can be easily compromised to get the biggest bang for your buck. There are tips and tricks where you wouldn’t even notice the difference with your bare eyes, and thus, save yourself a lot of money!

Now, I often get asked by readers about diamond color vs. clarity, and which one is more adjustable to get the best price for the best diamond. Which is more important?

Is Diamond Color or Clarity more important

In this post, I will look into this issue from all angles. We’ll start with a rough guide on how to compromise on color and clarity. Then, I will draw a conclusion and explain which one will give you the best deal for your money. Sounds good? Read on!

How to Compromise on Diamond Clarity

I think we can all agree that opting for an eye-clean diamond (no inclusions seen with the naked eye) is one of the best industry secrets that you can discover before purchasing an engagement ring.

Browsing through diamonds at James Allen

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

The VS2 – SI2 range is comparably cheap, and there are quite some “gems” that can be found within that scope. You will also see “not eye-clean” diamonds in these grades, and this is why it is super important to have a close look at each diamond beforehand.

The pictures below are 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 you 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 examine diamonds up-close is James Allen with its magnified high definition 360° videos and Super Zoom! Currently, there is no other online diamond vendor that can offer a deeper look for every diamond in its inventory like James Allen.

A Word to the Wise:

However, you would have to take into consideration that you get to see 20x magnification of all the diamonds in James Allen. And its Super Zoom function lets you view up to 40x!

The thing is, diamonds are always graded with a 10x magnification loupe. With James Allen’s Super Zoom, you’ll even be able to make out small inclusions in IF-graded (internally flawless) diamonds!

James Allen Zoom

Thus, to truly know whether a diamond is eye-clean or not, I would only have a look at the standard 20x magnification. If there is an inclusion that is starkly noticeable, then it’s NOT eye-clean. But if the inclusion is hard to make out in 20x zoom (or only from a certain angle), then it’s probably eye-clean.

The more time you take, the more likely you will find eye-clean diamonds within the magic range. The bottom line in compromising on clarity is to make sure your diamond is eye-clean. Everything else wouldn’t make sense as noticeable inclusions immensely distract from the beauty of the gem.

 How to Compromise on Diamond Color

GIA color grading scale

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

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 is not the best idea if you are out there to get the best cost/performance ratio. Plus, it is highly unlikely for you to notice a hint of color from a top grade. Please check out this amazing diamond color simulator for a glimpse of what each color grade should look like:

James Allen diamond color simulator

If you want to make the best deal for your money, my recommendations for diamond color grades are as follows:

Color grades recommendations for your diamond

Just have a look at this color chart, and you will see why you don’t have to go for the best clarity grades:


Colorless Diamonds (D-F):

        • D colored diamond
        • E colored diamond
        • F colored diamond

Near Colorless Diamonds (G-J):

      • G colored diamond
      • H colored diamond
      • I colored diamond
      • J colored diamond

Faint Color Diamonds (K):

      • K colored diamond

As you can see, the variance between color grades is pretty evident when viewed from the side of the diamond. You might see a difference between a D and a G if they are held next to each other.

Furthermore, it’s exhibited so well in the examples above because you are looking at loose diamonds. But once your gem is set on a ring setting, it will pick up some of the metal’s color and won’t seem as tinted as it is.

Diamond Color vs. Clarity – So, Which One Should You Prioritize More?


Now, the thing you need to understand in this context is the following:

Once you have an eye-clean diamond and you cannot see any inclusions with your naked eye, a better clarity grade won’t be necessary. You could be lucky and have found an eye clean SI1 or SI2 stone. Because if you compared it to an IF  diamond, both would appear the same to the naked eye!

With the diamond color, however, it is different!

I do have to admit that I find it difficult to distinguish a D and an F diamond! On the other hand, setting a D and a G diamond apart is quite accomplishable. Thus, the diamond color is something that you would appreciate with your bare eyes if you make an effort to go for a better color grade.

The Bottom Line

 And the winner is


I think that it is wiser to prioritize the diamond color, BUT only after you have made sure that your gem is eye-clean! 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 stone. The money you save on clarity can then be reinvested in color – or better yet – a bigger carat size!

If you aren’t sure if your diamond is eye-clean or not, please don’t hesitate to contact me via mail or drop a comment below. I usually answer within 24 hours! 🙂