Can you correctly identify the K diamond from the D and H color diamond?
What is a K colored diamond? Is it too yellow for an engagement ring? Will a K diamond look dull? Are they bad choices in platinum or white gold settings? How do they look like when worn on a finger?
These are common questions I frequently receive from readers who are shopping for engagement rings. In this article, you will find answers to these questions and more.
In addition, you will get to see different colored engagement rings being compared in everyday environments and see how a K color diamond looks like in real life. And lastly, check out some handshots of my wife wearing a K color solitaire ring.
Let’s dive in!
When diamonds are graded in the laboratory, they are assessed in a face down manner for a lack of color under controlled lighting conditions. The GIA color scale is the industry standard that is widely used around the world and it runs from D-Z, with D being colorless and Z being light colored.
On the GIA color scale, a K-colored diamond lies at the top of the Faint category (K-M) and they have a slight body color tint that is somewhat noticeable. Due to popularity and market stigma, most retailers do not sell diamonds that are lower than K ratings because of their lower demand.
GIA is the industry standard when it comes to color grading and according to their grading scale, the K, L and M colors fall under the Faint category. In the industry, most people characterize K diamonds as “faint yellow” or “tinted”.
From experience, I know a “faint yellow” description for a diamond would probably freak out a first time shopper because it resonates to something that is aged and unsightly.
In reality, the body color of a diamond isn’t that readily seen once it is mounted in a setting.
For most people (myself included), the yellow tint in a K diamond isn’t obvious when looking at white gold/platinum settings from a top down perspective. That’s because the sparkle and brilliance of the diamond helps mask its body color.
The following video compares diamonds across the GIA spectrum of colorless, near colorless and faint color. So, if you are wondering how yellow a K diamond really is, this is the closest comparison you’ll see in real life.
Having watched the video above, can you see differences between the various rings? Leave a comment below to let me know if you can see the nuances in a K color diamond and whether a K is too yellow for your taste.
One of the main considerations people have when buying an engagement ring is budget. And if you are a price conscious shopper, there are plenty of good reasons for you to consider buying a K colored diamond.
To illustrate this, we will perform a price comparison using round diamonds with ideal cut quality across various carat sizes.
As you can see, a diamond with similar specifications (except for different color grade) can have significantly different costs. By choosing a K color diamond instead of a D or a G color, the savings can be substantial!
Also, the price differences become more pronounced as size increases due to the disproportionate effects of carat weight and rarity factors. i.e. a two carat D diamond costs 3 times more than a similar two carat K diamond!
When GIA grades faint color diamonds, they actually list the color undertones that the diamonds exhibit. By default, when a diamond is graded and listed as a K in the GIA certificate, the diamond has a yellow undertone (the most common hue).
Sometimes, you may actually come across diamonds with grading reports that list color as “K, Faint Brown” and this means that the diamond has a brownish undertone. Check out these two K diamonds below to illustrate what I mean.
Can you tell which is the faint brown ($4,240) and which is the faint yellow diamond ($4,820)?
The market discounts faint brown diamonds because they are less popular with consumers. Personally, I love the appeal of brown undertones and setting them in rose gold can result in a very beautiful and unique appearance.
So, if you are like me and you like the brown hue, the great news is that you will be able to save even more money on the center stone. If you prefer the yellow hue, that’s fine as well. Just bear in mind that you buy a diamond with the correct undertone you like when shopping for a K color diamond ring.
From my own experience and market research, there’s a negative connotation when a diamond displays a slight tinge of color.
When buying an engagement ring, I know many people instantly shun lower color diamonds because they have a misconception that K diamonds are bad and of low quality.
However, if you intend to buy a yellow gold band or mounting, it makes sense to match it with a warm colored diamond. This is because an icy white diamond like a D color will still appear yellowish in a yellow metal setting as it picks up environmental colors.
Here are some real-life examples of K colored diamonds in yellow gold settings…
This 4 prong platinum solitaire engagement ring from James Allen which features a 0.60ct K VS1 round diamond cost me a little over $2000 ($1,380 +$830). FYI, it’s the same ring you seen in the comparison videos above.
My wife volunteered her hands for this photo shoot with the platinum ring.
To the untrained eye, a well cut K diamond ring has a subtle tint which isn’t obvious.
At such an affordable price, it’s amazing how the engagement ring holds its own weight beside a D colorless diamond ring. While it may show a tint of color at certain angles and in some lighting environments, the diamond faces up white most of the time.
This is because the combination of ideal proportions and cut precision enables the diamond’s facets to return more light and brilliance.
Besides that, I must say that this platinum ring has superb craftsmanship. And when a 4 prong solitaire ring is well made, the setting allows more light to enter and enhances the sparkle factor of the center stone.
While D color diamonds are highly desirable and represent the “best” color grade on the GIA scale, they can be out of reach for people with a limited budget. By going down to a K color diamond, you can save alot of money and even get a significantly larger sized diamond.
The key is to select a K diamond with the best possible cut. Better cut quality results in better brilliance which makes it face up white and beautiful. When such a diamond is viewed in most environments, the color tint will not be readily seen by casual viewers.
At the end of the day, it still boils down to your personal preferences and tastes.
Personally speaking, I find K diamonds to be perfect for yellow gold settings. The subtle warmth tone also offers a complementary look for antique style ring designs that you cannot get from an icy white D diamond.
With that, I hope this article has offered insights into shopping for your engagement ring.
Now, I want to hear from you. Would you buy a K color diamond or would you rather pay more for a higher color diamond? Drop a comment below to let me know!
I’ve read that faint color diamonds can exist in many different types of hues like brown or yellow. Should I be concerned whether a K diamond in yellow gold would be in yellow or brown hue?
You are right that faint yellow or faint brown colors can both exist in the GIA K color grade. Personally, I would be OK with a faint yellow diamond in a matching yellow setting. I would have preference for faint brown stones if I were buying a rose gold setting as it complements the appearance nicely. Does that make sense to you?
I’m planning to match a K color diamond in rose gold. Should I be concerned that the rose gold is too saturated and will add more color to the diamond? Would white gold prongs help alleviate the problem?
It’s quite an irony because if you plan on buying a rose gold engagement ring, color should be the least of your worries.
I can tell you that even a D colorless diamond will look reddish brown when it is mounted on a rose gold setting. That’s because well cut diamonds pick up environmental colors and reflect them in their facets.
Whether you should or shouldn’t buy a rose gold setting for a K diamond is up to your own tastes. I personally see no problems in doing so.
Are k color diamonds bad for fingers with pale skin tones? I don’t want the color to stand out and contrast the color of my hands.
First of all, are you buying matching a K color diamond in platinum or white gold settings? If you are, then I can tell you that the contrast between the diamond and setting will be more obvious than that of your fingers. That is unless your skin tone is even whiter than a platinum setting. I highly doubt so if you are a normal human being.
As for whether the K color diamond ring is too yellow, that is the question that only you have the answers for. Did you look at the videos above to get an idea of how easy or hard it is to see the hue? Use that as guidance for you to make decisions.
Thank you for the ultra-comprehensive article! Do I have to match the side stones to suit the color of the center stone in a three stone setting? Since the diamonds are right next to each other, what would you recommend for the side stones? James Allen offers I/J quality sidestones in one of the designs I shortlisted. I’m not sure whether it is cheap or expensive to go with them.
I-J color sidestones would be perfectly fine to pair with a K middle stone. Actually, you can also see and visualize how a K diamond looks like in a 3 stone setting by heading to the “Previously Purchased” section. You will find similar three stone rings with other diamond colors.
A K colored diamond represents good value for money and are ideal for people who have smaller budgets. JA actually caters to shoppers like you with their attractive price points.
Will an F color diamond produce better brilliance and dispersion under diffuse lighting than a J/K colored diamond with the exact same cut/proportions?
No it won’t. Color has nothing to do with brilliance and dispersion. It’s cut quality that affects that. Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILKgmUce1dc
Recently went with a 1.9 ct K which looked good in natural lighting by the poolside/ there was a difference with D colour and G when compared from the bottom. face up both were similar and it will be set in platinum. i have some added comfort seeing a few more examples from your post.
I found two princess cut diamonds for studs at James Allen, .54 the other .58 both VS2 , very good cut, both color K for just over $1540. With the white gold setting I’m at $1880. But I really don’t like the yellowish tint. To me it looks super obvious, but I want to stay around 2000 with the biggest stones possible. There are 1.26 cw stones I found (total 2.53) for $2200 but there are huge white inclusions visible to the naked eye. At least they’re icy white and huge. I don’t know what to do.
Well, the first thing you want to do is to manage your expectations. If you don’t expect to see any tints in the diamond, you need to go up to an I color or better. For around $2000, each diamond is going to be allocated a budget of around $1000. Realistically speaking, you will need to go closer to the half carat (0.5ct) size to get a well cut diamond that’s eyeclean.
I did a search for you and would recommend these 2:
These 2 diamonds are well matched and are eyeclean. They also display superb performance and contrast patterning. And it also gets you white, icy appearances with their color ratings.
I recently visited a local jeweler twice, and given my budget (CDN$12,500) and size (1.7ct+) desires, he recommended I opt for this K diamond. At first I was very skeptical because of the colour grade and “faint brown” description, but he challenged me to discern the difference between the K and a few H/I stones – I literally could not tell.
I decided to do some more research and I found this article tonight which felt like a god-send because it literally speaks to my situation! I am suddenly emboldened to pursue this K diamond which I never would have considered before based solely on stigma and lack of education.
I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to look at the report linked below and let me know your thoughts.
Thank you so much.
The diamond is absolutely terrible in terms of cut quality. The steep crown and depth will cause the diamond to look small for its carat size. The 41.2 degrees pavilion angles will also cause light leakage. Ditch the diamond and the jeweler who actually recommended you this diamond.
If I went with a K color diamond but put it on a solitaire setting with a secret halo and had sapphire stones (her birth stone) on the secret halo would that potentially absorb some of the yellow and bring back more of the blue tone in the diamond?
It depends on how the ring is designed and how well cut the diamond is. Assuming you are making a comparison against a plain 6 prong solitaire ring, then the design you are describing will probably help “absorb” some of the yellow and cause blues from the sapphires to be picked up.
Paul: The K – color tutorial is superb!! A subtle point would be that in the various light settings presented it is very difficult to discern differences in the metal color, let alone in the diamond color, in the rings presented. Yellow gold? White gold? Platinum? Shank vs basket? Hard to tell sometimes! Specifically, the diamonds exhibit much less color than the metal . . .
Hi, I have a necklace that I think is a diamond but removed stone. Its yellow tint but can kind of have a green tint. Its very light but my at home diamond tester says its a diamond and tried a few other tests. lol Like it floats and doesn’t to fog. Do you think its a diamond if very light and yellow/kind of green tint. I was told its a K diamond and its 3carats.
Bring it to a jeweler to identify it for you.
Hi Paul, I want to buy a trilogy ring with three round diamonds in an J or K colour so that I can get a larger carat centre stone. They will be set in yellow gold band with a white gold crown prong setting. Does the fact that I am setting the stones in white gold cancel out the yellow in the diamond offsetting the yellow in the band. As I heard you can go lower in colour if setting in a yellow gold band. Basically, can I stick with lower colour diamond set in white gold prongs but yellow gold band or must I go higher in colour so I don’t see the yellow tint? Thanks!
You will see a yellow tint in the diamonds with a yellow gold band. Whether it is a D color or K color diamond or whether you choose to use white gold prongs, it won’t matter. The yellow tint is going to be there because the diamonds will pick up color from their surroundings. If you hate the yellow tint, ditch the yellow gold setting. Otherwise, just accept that the tint and warm color is going to be present and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Thank you for this article. I love reading your articles because they are so interesting and informative. I was actually considering between a G diamond .9 carats and a K diamond that is 1.2 carats in a yellow gold setting. Both are $2700 on Frank Darling. You answered a lot of my questions in this article so thank you, now I’m leaning towards the K diamond.