How Well Can You See Diamond Color Differences?

internal reflections and dispersion of light

Diamond with multi-colored dispersion and reflections of surroundings.

When it comes to diamond color, first time shoppers often have questions along the lines of: “Do you think a H color for a diamond ring is good enough?”, “What’s the best color grade to buy if I don’t want to see any yellow tints in the diamond?” and “Does the general public perceive color hues in engagement rings easily?”

Well, it all boils down to one thing: How well do you personally see colors?

In diamond grading, the differences between 1 color grade is very minute and it takes a trained eye to discern between 2 loose diamonds under a specific set of lab conditions.

In reality, when diamonds are mounted in a setting, it is going to be very hard to detect color differences in casual viewing. For example, if we to compare 2 diamond engagement rings with G and H color ratings side by side, I can tell you that 99% of people won’t be able to tell any differences at all. 

But what if you belong to the 1% of people who have extremely sensitive eyes? Would you be able to see visual differences between color grades in real life?

That’s what we are going to do today.

To find out how sharp your eyes are in discerning color nuances, here’s a simple 5 minutes test for you to quickly find out: https://www.xrite.com/hue-test

I Did The Test Myself And Here’s a Screenshot of My Score

online color vision test

Here’s my first attempt and I scored a perfect score of 0.

Having been around diamonds, I developed a very sensitive eye and this online color challenge is a test that I can complete with ease.

If you had completed the color test as well, feel free to leave a comment below to let us know what you scored. I love to hear from readers and see how you fared.

And on this note, I want you to know that it is completely normal if you didn’t get a perfect score.

It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your eyes. In fact, I see it as a blessing in disguise as you can save money on your diamond ring purchase with a lower color diamond.

Also, I want to highlight one mistake that consumers make by having the misconception that a higher color rating automatically equates to a diamond with better sparkle and brilliance. Cut is actually what determines the performance of a diamond and not color.

White Flash and James Allen are 2 highly recommended vendors when it comes to ideally cut diamonds. Besides a good selection of diamonds, they also have hundreds of beautiful ring designs to choose from.

Comparing Various Color Grades in Real Life For Differences

Here’s the thing, even with a trained eye, I am not able to tell the differences between a mounted D color and a F color diamond easily. Until I can scrutinize and inspect the stones closely under correct lighting conditions, any color differences won’t be obvious.

And this is what really happens in the practical world.

Most people on the streets probably glance at your jewelry for a couple of seconds. If a trained professional can’t see differences immediately, do you think it is likely for the public to tell the differences between a couple of color grades?

I’ve made a video comparison of colorless diamonds vs near colorless diamonds to help you put things into perspective. This suite of 5 engagement rings consist of diamonds with the following color ratings: D, E, F, H and I.

Watch the video and see if you can detect the yellow tints in the near colorless diamonds.

 

 

The bottomline is, you don’t have fret too much or get too obsessed in buying diamonds with the best color specifications. Sometimes, the premium paid might not necessary translate into something that you can visually appreciate.

Here’s more food for thought… Would you get a bigger carat diamond at the expense of lower color? Or, would you rather get a diamond with higher clarity and sacrifice color?

Ultimately, the choice of color would be up to individual tastes as you will be the one wearing the piece of jewelry. I would love to hear your opinions and how you would place your priorities on these factors.

Drop a comment and let me know!

Blue Nile and JamesAllen.com have enormous inventories of GIA graded diamonds with interactive videos to help you cherry pick the perfect diamond. Check them out!

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30 Comments

  1. Liz-
    January 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I scored 48 in the test. A little disappointing but I guess I can’t differentiate color that easily.

  2. Paul-
    January 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    This test isn’t 100% accurate but rather, serves as a useful gauge. Even if you scored a perfect 0, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically be able to see color nuances in real life.

    If you look at it from the positive side of things, you have higher tolerances to color and can probably go down to lower grades without noticing much differences in a diamond’s outlook.

  3. toni-
    July 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I would prefer color rather than the size and I would rather have the best clarity than the best color.

  4. elizabeth dawn-
    February 21, 2015 at 2:05 am

    thanks Paul. for the most useful information. This is helping me gain more insight to diamonds and how to choose a special diamond. I scored 35 , not giving much attention to the colour grading since the tints are not noticeable to me.

  5. Paul Gian-
    February 22, 2015 at 4:26 am

    In a way that’s good since you can buy near colorless diamonds and not see a tinge of color in them. Too many consumers get worried about seeing color when it really isn’t that straightforward to do so in reality and this is a test that helps you gauge your eye sensitivity.

  6. TB-
    September 4, 2015 at 1:12 am

    I scored an 11. I think that means that color is important. Jewelers have pulled out diamonds for me and I always say it look too yellow. This is helping me to choose a diamond

  7. Regina-
    September 11, 2015 at 6:45 am

    I scored a 4! I think that is pretty good for an old lady! LOL. :O)

  8. Geoffrey-
    September 14, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Got a score of 4. Not bad!

  9. Paul Gian-
    September 15, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Well done! That’s probably means you may have to pay more for higher colored diamonds if you are color adverse.

  10. Martha-
    October 2, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Hi Paul: I would prefer a lower colored diamond with an excellent cut and VS1 or better clarity.

  11. Richard-
    October 21, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Hi Paul – an enjoyable test. I’ve always thought I have quite good colour sensitivity (a critical eye some might say!) but only scored 7 in the test. However, at almost 65 years and with no prior experience in diamond grading as such, I guess that’s not so bad. Colour and clarity would be important to me, but also the cut, and not so much the carat. (Though my wife may have something to say about that!).

  12. JK-
    December 2, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Scored a 3 :-) Would like to try again in better lighting without sunlight blinding me.

    Lowest colour I can settle for is E. The yellow in G onwards is glaringly obvious even when mounted. VS1 to be relatively eye clean. Carat is least important of the 3 mentioned. I really can’t understand ppl buying SI stones just to get more carats. Quality over quantity!

  13. Dominik-
    December 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Scored 0 after two previous attempts (18, 19). I find calm and relaxedness necessary.

  14. Jennifer-
    February 24, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I scored a 0 and I can definitely distinguish between colorless and near colorless diamonds. Will be opting for colorless when it comes time.

  15. Paul-
    April 9, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Male, scored 39 – undecided yet what is the most important of the 4 cs

  16. Danyal-
    May 4, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I scored 0 first time. Does this mean I will more easily distinguish colourless from near colourless?

  17. Paul Gian-
    May 5, 2016 at 1:24 am

    If you get to compare diamonds in a proper environment and lighting, I think you would be able to see very subtle differences in between colorless and near colorless diamonds.

  18. evelyn-
    July 20, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Paul… An enjoyable test especially since my fiance and I went ahead and purchased a 2.3 CT emerald cut. H Colour VVS1.. I scored 12 ! I learnt a lot from your 4Cs and what ultimately becomes a personal choice of either going for better colour or larger carat. I found that because I am enamored with the clean lines and simplicity of the emerald cut that I could not forsake clarity. Eye clean would be important. Being Tall I also wanted at least 2 carats and now that i have received the ring, the H colour does come off as White! I want to thank you for the online retail sites that you proposed as they made the buying process more scientific and I could view the stone up close. There was also an expert to help me identify where the inclusions were and whether it would be noticeable as it was VVS1, it was certainly eye-clean!! I decided against an IF H Colour which was several thousands more expensive as the VVS1 clarity was great!! My fiance is of course all the more happier!! Lol..
    I am learning more and more from you Paul so thanks again in giving me the needed assurance to dive into a large purchase.

  19. Bonnie Hardt-
    September 13, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I got a perfect 0 on my first try, but I’ve been a professional photographer for a couple of decades. Thanks for all the great information! I am trying to replace a men”s vintage ring that was stolen from my husband. It was his late Daddy’s. Not having a whole lot of luck so far.
    Thanks again.
    Bonnie

  20. Karen-
    October 21, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I scored a 0! I would much prefer clarity, and excellent cut of the diamond than size. I have learned a great deal from your newsletters mainly about cut, girdle, etc… I would really like to find a perfect diamond. I know it will probably be small due to my budget and the increased price of a perfect diamond but it is a dream of mine to own a perfect diamond. Thank you for your newsletters and wonderful information.

    Karen

  21. Linda-
    January 25, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Thanks Paul, this was interesting, I scored a 0.
    I work in a jewellery store and always wondered if my customers were seeing as much color differentiation as I was. It gave me better perspective when dealing with color in our diamonds.

  22. Mags-
    April 26, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I scored a 2 , am very pleased , but will give it a second go , I’m a perfectionist

  23. Mags-
    April 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Woohoo, got a 0 , happy bunny

  24. Ted-
    May 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Male – 63 yrs old – Scored a 0 on first attempt, but there’s not much difference between side by side hues. Would be difficult to discern if only two blocks.

  25. Nicola-
    October 18, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    I scored 0

  26. lynn-
    January 13, 2018 at 12:09 am

    Hi Paul, I got a 2 on the test..
    It would depend on the type of ring I purchase.. for an eternity band, I go for f/g color sl1 clarity and get a very good cut…40 each diamonds, if it was one diamond ring, I would go for g/h color go up a step in clarity very good cut and try for a full carat size diamond..
    Thank you for your advice Lynn

  27. Paul Gian-
    January 13, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Personally, very good cut is not going to be good enough. There’s already so much junk in the excellent cut grades that I will never consider bottom fishing in the Very Good cut range.

  28. Marnie-
    May 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I scored a 0. I am definitely drawn to color and cut and will choose an eye clean diamond of VS1 or VS2 with a color rating of H or better. Currently shopping in the 1.5 -1.75 range. Your articles have been very helpful and informative. Thanks Paul!

  29. Anne-
    September 30, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Only time I think a Zero on a test is perfect! As a painter, even minute changes in lighting and angle can influence one’s interpretation of color. I know I drove a jeweler friend nuts when looking at the subtle differences between each of the color grades. Buy the best cut and clarity, that you can afford. The carat weight & color is absolutely a personal choice. Color wise, once you are at an “I” or above, unless you have multiple diamonds side by side in a setting, your diamond will be lovely.

  30. Paul Gian-
    October 1, 2018 at 2:13 am

    You nailed it. The lighting environment actually affects the color of stuff we see. Some jewelers use yellowish spotlights (e.g. Tiffany) and it makes even the whitest diamond look yellowish. I would say most people would be ok to go down in clarity to VS2 or SI1. It’s an attribute people can save money on as most inclusions can’t be seen with the naked eye at those ranges.

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