What is the Best Diamond Color? Learn How Color Affects the Bling of a Ring

What color should your diamond be? The answer – it should be colorless (trick question, did I get ya?) Sure, colored diamonds exist (you can find red, pink, blue, yellow, even black diamonds), but if you’re looking to buy a traditional diamond, you want to make sure there is an absence of color in the diamond. The more colorless a diamond is, the greater ability it has to reflect light back and exhibit greater brilliance (i.e. the diamond’s sparkle)! Diamonds are graded from D – Z, with D being colorless and Z being basically a yellow/brown tint. And of course, the better the color grade, the more expensive the diamond. I am going to go into color into more detail below if you feel like learning more about it. I’ll be honest, this might be the only one of the 4 Cs that is worthwhile reading the entire article on. But if you’re pressed for time (which you probably are), and you’re looking for a quick take away, here you go:

What you need to know about the color of diamonds

  • D coloreds diamond will be considerably more expensive than a G colored diamonds (check out the chart below), but you’ll never be the naked eye will never be able to tell the difference, so choose the G color and save some money.
  • If you’re choosing a yellow gold engagement ring or jewelry setting, the color of the setting will make the diamond look a bit more yellow. So if you’re buying a higher color grade diamond, choose a white gold or platinum setting.
  • The larger the diamond size (more carats), the more prominent the color will be. Go for G-H color grades if you’re buying a diamond over 1 carat, and I-J color grades for diamonds under 1 carat.

Those are a few quick pointers, but there is a lot more to learn about diamond color, so I suggest reading the whole article. Let’s dig in.

Diamond Color Chart

As I mentioned earlier, diamond color is graded from D –Z. The closer you are to grade D, the less color there will be, and the closer you are to grade Z, the more yellow/ light brown you will find the diamond will be. Look at the chart below to get an idea of what the different diamond color grades mean.

COLOR LEVELCOLOR GRADECOLOR DESCRIPTIONPURCHASE CONSIDERATION
Completely ColorlessDThis is the highest color grade. Diamonds of this grade are extremely rare. I think you only buy this grade for investment purposes only.Investment purposes
ColorlessE
F
Small traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. Make sure you only buy white gold or platinum settings for these color grades.White gold or platinum settings (no yellow gold settings)
Near ColorlessG
H
Exceptional value because color is tough to detect (even by an expert gemologist) unless compared side by side. Naked eye will not notice a difference between these and colorless diamonds.These diamonds offer the best value.
I
J
Good value diamond with slightly detectable warmth or tone. These will retail for half the price of a D grade diamond.
Faint ColorK
L
M
Color (a yellowish tint) can be detected by the naked eye. If you’re buying a yellow gold engagement ring setting or jewelry, this this color range will provide the best value. Buy if you're using a yellow gold setting
Light ColorN - RDiamonds in this range will easily be seen in yellow or brown tint.Don't buy
Noticeable ColorS - ZYellow or brown tint is too noticeable. Most people will not buy colorless diamonds with these color grades.Definitely Don't buy

You can find diamonds in all color grades but if you’re on a budget, it’s probably not worth paying up for a D colored diamond when a G colored diamond will look exactly the same. I mean check out the price difference in basically the same diamond from a cut, clarity, carat, and dimension perspective. You can see how much the price jumps up for each color.

Why Does a Better Color Grade Matter?

This is quite simple – the less color there is inside a diamond, the greater its ability to take in outside light and reflect it back out – thus resulting in more sparkle. Of course, this is assuming that you have the right dimensions for your diamond – see our article on diamond cut for more information. But you have to put this in context with the diamond’s cut, if you have a very poorly cut diamond, it won’t matter how good the color grade is. Diamond Cut is still the most important of the 4 Cs when it comes to brilliance or the sparkle of the diamond. I recommend buying a better cut diamond but at a lower color grade (i.e. color grade of G or H).

Diamond Color and Setting Choice

No matter how colorless a diamond might be, it will still pick up some of the color from the metal band and setting it is connected to. So, you will find that a colorless, D grade diamond on yellow gold will have more yellow tint to it than if on white gold. So keep the following rules of thumb in mind:

  • D – J grade diamonds should be set on white gold or platinum settings
  • K – M grade diamonds should be set on yellow gold settings.

Diamond Color and the Shape of the Diamond

The shape of a diamond will have an impact on the overall diamond color – the more facets a diamond has, the less likely it is to show off its color.

  • Round Cut – The least prone to showing off its color, so it’s okay to downgrade a bit on color for these diamonds. But don’t go below a color grade of J.
  • Princess Cut, Emerald Cut, Asscher Cut – These diamonds show off color a bit more, so I recommend you go one color grade higher than you would choose for a round cut diamond. But don’t go below a color grade of I.
  • All the other diamond shapes (specifically elongated diamond shapes like oval cut, marquise cut, and pear cut diamonds) will show the color off even more. Don’t go below a color grade of H.

Color Grade and the Size of a Diamond

The larger the diamond, the more light it will draw, thus showing off more color. Follow these rules of thumb (of course you have to take into consideration that the diamond has proper proportions and symmetry, a decent clarity and good cut)

  • For diamonds greater than 1 carrot, purchase a diamond that is a color grade greater than G
  • For diamonds less than 1 carrot, you can go as low as a color of J.

How does the color grade of diamonds impact their price?

Color grading has a significant impact on the pricing of your diamonds. Check out the table below

While you may feel that you need to have the best diamond and pay the extra money for a d grade diamond, you won’t see much of a difference between this grade and a lower grade with the naked eye. But you know what will noticeable? The price!! Look at the table above. These are all pretty much the same diamond but D colored diamond is nearly twice the price of the I colored diamond. I’d go for the G colored diamond and save $3500.

Making the choice between all of the options from the color chart.

When you look at that color grading chart, you will see how close each of the grades are when you look at them side by side, even a couple of steps away from each other. The difference between grade d and grade e is slight enough that the untrained eye would not be able to discern any difference at all. That is why you see that there is more popularity for the G grade diamonds because there is a significant difference in the pricing because of the lessened color quality. This can make a significant reduction in your price point and still provide you with a great sparkle to your diamond that will be sure to give you some great feedback on the diamond you have chosen.

PHD Conclusion

Color grading is an important part of the pricing of a diamond and can make or break the budget that you have for the ring that you are looking to purchase. Don’t be afraid to invest in a diamond with a little bit of color so that you can save some money on your purchase as well as avoid having to tailor your setting and ring colors to keep the diamond as clear as possible. Instead focus your search on the perfect balance of features so that you can obtain the best of everything for your purchase. While color may be an important aspect of your selection, it isn’t the only element that you want to focus on when you are purchasing a diamond. Look at the cut and design of the diamond to make sure that it is cut in the best way to make sure that the light reflects just right. Then look at the clarity to make sure that even it if has a bit of color, it will be able to shine through correctly. Once you have a diamond that balances these three design features, you will be able to find the perfect diamond for the person you want to make happy with your gift.