People ask me all the time “What color diamond should I buy?” How different does a D-color diamond look from a G-color diamond? And is it a difference worth paying for? The color grading wheel featured on the GIA web site is a pretty cool way for consumers to get an idea of what the different color grades look like, just move the slider to see the different color grades (on the GIA site).
Let’s face it, at the end of the day, you’re just trying to get the most bang for your buck, and as a professional diamond buyer with 25+ years experience, I know just how to help you do that. The first thing to know about diamond color grading, is that when we grade diamonds for color, we are evaluating them for an absence of color, not the presence of color… thus we refer to the colorless range, which is designated alphabetically using D-E-F, as “colorless” and the letters G-H-I-J, represent the range known as “near colorless” with the grades following that representing the ranges of faint yellow to yellow.
When people hear the world “yellow” they tend to think “bright yellow” like a canary, but that intensity of color would actually fall into a different realm of the diamond market known as “fancy colored diamonds” which uses an entirely different standard for grading color, based upon the intensity of the color in terms of saturation and hue. The degrees of faint yellow and yellow represented within the scale of color for grading “white diamonds” is much less saturated and is not always that easy for people to detect. So you don’t necessarily need to buy a diamond in the D-E-F “colorless” range to get a diamond that is going to face up crisp, clean and white, there are lots of options available in the G-H-I-J range, which are going to look relatively the same from across the dinner table.
This 1.01 carat, D-color, VVS-1 clarity, True Hearts Diamond from James Allen, is graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL), as you can see by the lab report to the left, with an overall cut rating of AGS Ideal-0 on the Platinum Light Performance grading platform, and it happens to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, you just can’t get any better than that in terms of the volume of light return and visual performance! But it weighs in at a whopping $19,480.00 for a diamond which has an average outside diameter of 6.47 millimeters, and it is absolutely gorgeous, but the fact is that you can buy a much bigger diamond than this for that kind of money, if you just broaden the parameters for clarity and color just a little bit.[separator]
For instance, you could buy this 1.517 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin for just a few hundred bucks more and be sporting a diamond with an average outside diameter of 7.39 mm, which is going to look considerably larger! Now in terms of the overall volume of light return and visual performance, these two diamonds are going to be pretty much the same, both of them have an overall grade of AGS Ideal-0 for Light Performance from the AGSL on the Platinum Light Performance grading platform, and exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows.[separator]
The primary difference between the two diamonds is carat weight, and color… the difference in clarity is not something that you would be able to see without 10x and higher magnification, but the difference of half a carat will definitely be noticeable! So what about the difference in color? All right, it is something that would be readily apparent if you were looking at the two diamonds, while they were next to each other on a diamond sorting tray, separated by a distance of about half an inch or so, especially if you were looking at them under the controlled light of a diamond grading light, but if you were looking at them from across the dinner table, the only difference most people would be able to detect is the size. So guess which one I’d choose?
That’s right, the 1.517 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin because at the end of the day, most of the women that I know are more concerned about size, than color and clarity… Now if I had around $25K to spend, I might hop up to this 2.058 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, True Hearts Diamond from James Allen, because an I-color diamond isn’t going to appear that much warmer than a G-color, even in a white gold or platinum setting. By the way, both of these diamonds meet my selection criteria for overall cut grade, proportions, and inclusions… I’d be happy to present my bride with either one.
I’ll tell you where things start to get sticky in terms of tripping my snob factor, it’s right around the J-color of this 2.05 carat, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts Diamond… there isn’t anything wrong with it, the diamond is cut exactly how I like it to be, everything is right about this diamond in terms of cut grade, optical symmetry, inclusions, etc., it’s just that it’s going to be a bit too warm in terms of tonal value for my personal taste, which tends to run to the cooler range of diamond color grading. But this is a matter of personal preference, over the years I’ve had a lot of clients who have asked me to help them find “warmer” diamonds like this 2.26 carat, K-color, SI-2 clarity, Round Brilliant Hearts & Arrows Diamond produced by Crafted by Infinity, which thankfully has medium blue fluorescence, because it will help to lift the body color of the diamond when it is exposed to bright sunlight.
So what are we talking about in terms of price for these two diamonds? Well at the time this article is being written, the 2.05 carat, J-color, VS-1 clarity, True Hearts Diamond from James Allen is selling for $21,220.00 and the 2.26 carat, K-color, SI-2 clarity, Crafted by Infinity Diamond is selling for $17,358.00 so obviously the clarity and color grades of diamonds have a dramatic effect upon price… and I’ll tell you a secret, I’ve never heard anybody ask another person at a cocktail party what the clarity and color of their diamond is, but I hear a lot of women ask “how big is it?”
I’m going to let you in on a big secret… There is substantial savings to be gained by buying a diamond which exhibits blue fluorescence, like this 1.746 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Round Brilliant Ideal Cut Diamond from the Brian Gavin Blue Collection. The reason is simple, and stupid…
I’m going to explain this as simply as possible… Back in the last century, there were quite a few stock investment firms which were putting together parcels of “investment diamonds” for their client portfolios, apparently in an attempt to distinguish their offerings apart from the competition, some of the firms in Asia, elected to omit diamonds with blue fluorescence from their parcels… it resulted in an overstock of blue fluorescent diamonds, the diamond cutters were forced to discount the diamonds to sell them, and the discount stuck… and the really funny thing is, that I’m extremely fond of diamonds with blue fluorescence, so practically all of the diamonds which I’ve ever bought for myself, have exhibited blue fluorescence, it’s like getting paid to buy what I was going to buy in the first place, it’s stupid.
So if we compare this 1.746 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Round Brilliant Ideal Cut Diamond from the Brian Gavin Blue Collection, which is selling for $15,785.00 to this 1.741 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Round Brilliant Ideal Cut Diamond from the Brian Gavin Signature Collection, which is selling for $18,153.00 the difference in price is $2,368.00 and do you know what the difference between the diamonds is in terms of the overall volume of light return and sparkle factor? Nada, Zilch, Nothing! They were produced by the same diamond cutters, on the same production line, to the same standards of optical symmetry, the only difference is that the 1.746 carat, exhibits medium blue fluorescence… and I consider that to be a bonus![separator]
Now I realize that not everybody is prepared to spend more than $10K on a diamond engagement ring, in fact if I recall correctly, fewer than 30% of the women in the industrialized nations will ever even own a one carat diamond… so let’s look at some options which are a little more reasonable in terms of price, but which are still going to sparkle like crazy from across the room!
This 1.12 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity, True Hearts Diamond from James Allen is only $6,680.00 and exhibits the medium blue fluorescence which I am quite fond of… I also like the look of this 1.083 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round brilliant cut diamond from the Brian Gavin Blue Collection, which exhibits very strong blue fluorescence.
Back when I was the diamond buyer for Nice Ice, I made it a point to buy up everything that I could find which met my selection criteria between the range of 0.74 – 0.99 carats, and 1.20 – 1.49 carats, because people love to buy those sizes, because they represent such a great price point! So imagine how excited I was to find this 0.967 carat, H-color, SI-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity Diamond! It faces up really close in size to a one carat diamond, without your having to pay the premium which is applied to diamonds at the 0.99 – 1.00 carat mark. If you look closely at the clarity photograph, you’ll see that the inclusions within the diamond are “mirroring” so it looks busier than it actually is, this is something which happens a lot when we photograph diamonds for clarity, but which is usually much less apparent when the diamond is viewed using a standard 10x diamond grading loupe, so I wouldn’t worry about it.
This 0.947 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, puppy from Crafted by Infinity is also a keeper, it would go quite nicely with this 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, pup from Brian Gavin, in case you’re looking for a pair of diamond earrings for an anniversary gift! They’re pretty much twins, so you can’t go wrong picking either one! Such a dilemma 😉
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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