What is the Best Diamond Color Grade to Buy?

So, how do you go about determining what is the best diamond color grade for your purchase? Well, it really depends on your own preferences, how color sensitive you are and the style of jewelry you are buying.

A Quick Recap on the Different Categories of Diamond Color

diamond color grade chart

Diamonds in the colorless range (D,E,F) appear cool, icy white. Due to their relative rarity in nature, these diamonds are priced at a higher premium. If money were no object, these are the diamonds I would personally love to get my hands on.

For diamonds in the near colorless range (G,H,I,J), their color tints are very hard to differentiate in the face up view. To most untrained eyes, the G and H colors would face up white if the diamonds are well cut.

For consumers who want to get the most bang for their buck, these are the best color grades to get a good balance between icy white appearances and affordable costs.

For faint colors like K,L,M onwards, most people would be able to pick up a tinge of color in these diamonds. If you are someone who is color averse, you should avoid diamonds beyond the K color grade.

  • Did you know that the presence of nitrogen in a diamond’s chemical composition is responsible for its yellowish color? Just one part in a million would cause the stone to appear as a K color!

    Paul Gian
    Trivial: How Do Diamonds Get Their Color?

    How Color Sensitive Are Your Eyes?

    If you are someone who is buying a piece of diamond jewelry for the first time, color can be one of the most confusing attributes of the 4Cs. You probably have questions like these on your mind: “What color grade diamond should I get?” or “What is the best color diamond to buy?”.

    From first-hand experience, I know many people get too hung up about seeing yellow tints in their diamonds. As a result of their paranoia, some people choose to pay the premiums for colorless diamonds even though they might not be able to see color tints in lower graded diamonds.

    Now, color sensitivity would vary from one individual to another and the best way to find out your own acuity is to look at diamonds across the various grades for yourself. To help you do this, I’ve created some videos to show you how the different colored diamonds look like in real life.

    The first video you should watch in full is a comparison of colorless diamonds vs near-colorless diamonds.



    The second video shows a side by side comparison of diamonds that are found on the different ends of the spectrum. This will give you an idea of how they look like in real life.



    As you can see in the videos above, when a diamond is viewed from a top down manner, the body color would not be that obvious to your eye. In the case of ideally cut diamonds, the extra brilliance and scintillation will help mask body color significantly.

    If you are looking for a bright, sparkly diamond that is full of life, I recommend checking out White Flash and James Allen for their super ideal cut diamonds. Plus, they also have beautiful ring designs to choose from!

    Your Ideal Color Grade Also Depends on Your Setting Design

    It’s no secret that the majority of consumers in the market loves “white-looking” diamonds. Personally, I do as well. However, there are times when the best color grade to buy is actually one with a yellowish tint.

    For example, if you are buying a yellow gold setting or looking to get a vintage design diamond ring, I would recommend getting lower color diamonds in the I, J and K range to complement the setting.

    I’ve listed 2 such examples below of a filigree vintage ring and a halo setting in 14k yellow gold.

    unique yellow gold engagement rings
    best color grade for 14k yellow gold diamond ring

    If you prefer a warmer look to your jewelry, the good news is that you will enjoy significantly cheaper prices with lower color grades. Make sure you check out James Allen and Blue Nile for their awesome selections of lower colored diamonds.

    A Dilemma on the Choice of Color to Select

    Bear in mind that the demand for color is largely market driven. Most consumers in US and Europe generally purchase diamonds in the near colorless range (G-J). On the other hand, the Asian market (e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore) is fueling demand for the colorless spectrum of stones (D-F).

    If you are unsure of what your recipient likes, a safe choice of color would be G or H.

    In reality, unless your girlfriend/wife is always walking around with a set of masterstones and knows how to compare her diamond against the masterset, she probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a D or G colored stone.

    The truth is, the majority of people will not be able to tell color differences apart easily. Here’s a comprehensive article that reveals how diamonds with different colors will compare against each other.

    Now, I know most consumers will strive to purchase a diamond with the best grades they can afford. However, one of the mistakes that beginners make is the assumption that a higher color rating will make a diamond more beautiful.

    That’s not true. Cut is what really makes or breaks a diamond’s appearance.

    Relative Carat Size And Color

    half carat i color 18k white gold diamond engagement ring
    5 carat i color diamond solitaire ring comparison

    0.5 carat vs 5 carat diamond ring with I colored center stones.

    The last point I want to highlight is that bigger sized diamonds trap more color in their bodies compared to smaller sized diamonds.

    For example, let’s say you have two I colored diamonds, a 5 carat and a 0.5 carat, and you place them in a side by side comparison. It would be easier for you to notice a nuance of yellow in the larger diamond even though both may have the same GIA color grade.

    So, if you are buying a large size diamond and you don’t expect to see any color hues at all, you’ve got to pony up the extra cash for a higher color diamond.

    On the next page, I am going to talk about other factors that can affect a diamond’s visual appearance. Continue reading to find out more…

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    1. Diane-
      February 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Paul,

      I’m going to buy a 3.14 carat VS1 H Triple Excellent cut GIA Cert for $60,595 or 3.01 carat VS1 H Ideal cut AGS Cert for $64,995. Do you think it’s good ideal to choose from? I’m also considering a J color diamond but was worried that the grade will be too yellow.

    2. Paul Gian-
      February 8, 2014 at 4:29 am

      It is best to get in touch directly with me via email. You can find the details on our contact us page. Offhand without knowing further details, the J diamond color will offer the best value for money IF you are ok with a warm looking stone.

      Here’s some perspective to help you visualize how a J might look like.

      d color vs j color diamond

      Test link

    3. Amy Stanley-
      June 23, 2016 at 6:24 am

      What is the best diamond color for a 1 carat oval stone in a rose gold halo setting? I’m thinking of a H but I am worried that it would be too yellowish.

    4. Paul Gian-
      June 23, 2016 at 6:25 am

      The best color for diamonds in rose or yellow gold setting would be in the I, J and K range.

    5. Ludy-
      August 28, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      What does “AA8” and “AAA5” mean in the certificate that the jeweler gave me after i bought a diamond ring and earring for almost $10k

    6. Paul Gian-
      August 29, 2017 at 5:04 am

      It means you were ripped off and overpaid for a pair of earrings with questionable quality.

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