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What color and clarity is good for diamond?

What color and clarity is good for diamond?

Diamonds come in a wide range of colors and clarity levels. When choosing a diamond, considering the color and clarity is key to finding a stone that aligns with your preferences and budget. This article will provide an overview of diamond color, clarity, and the factors to consider when selecting a diamond with ideal color and clarity combinations.

Diamond Color

Diamond color refers to the presence or absence of color in a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamonds on a color scale that starts at D (colorless) and goes down to Z (light yellow/brown). Here is a quick overview of the GIA diamond color scale:

Color Grade Color Description
D-F Colorless
G-J Near colorless
K-M Faint yellow
N-R Very light yellow
S-Z Light yellow/brown

The best and most expensive diamonds are those graded D-F with no detectable color. As you go down the scale, the diamonds begin picking up faint traces of yellow and brown hue.

Most jewelers recommend choosing a diamond in the top color grades (D-H) if your budget allows, since these diamonds will look virtually colorless face-up. Diamonds graded J or below may start to show noticeable color.

However, opting for a lower color grade can help you get a larger diamond at better value. Slight color can be hard to detect once the diamond is set, especially in a yellow gold setting. The choice depends on your preferences and budget.

Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes inside the stone. Inclusions are tiny natural imperfections trapped in the diamond during formation. Blemishes occur on the diamond’s surface.

Like color, the GIA also grades diamond clarity on a scale. Here is an overview:

Clarity Grade Inclusion Visibility
FL (Flawless) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
IF (Internally Flawless) No inclusions, only minor blemishes
VVS1-VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included) Inclusions extremely difficult to see under 10x magnification
VS1-VS2 (Very Slightly Included) Inclusions difficult to see under 10x magnification
SI1-SI2 (Slightly Included) Inclusions visible under 10x magnification but not to the unaided eye
I1-I3 (Included) Inclusions typically visible to the unaided eye

Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds are exceptionally rare and expensive. The top clarity grades like VVS, VS, and SI offer excellent clarity where inclusions are minor and difficult to see without magnification.

I1-I3 diamonds have visible inclusions that can detract from beauty for some buyers. However, choosing a lower clarity grade can help you get more value in carat weight. Slight inclusions are often hard to see when the diamond is set.

Ideal Color and Clarity Combinations

When selecting a diamond, considering color and clarity together is important. Here are some popular combinations that offer an ideal balance of beauty and value:

– D-F color, VVS-VS clarity: Top colorless grades with barely visible inclusions. Offers exceptional beauty but at a premium cost.

– G-I color, VS clarity: Near colorless with minor inclusions difficult to see under magnification. An excellent sweet spot for beauty and value.

– J-L color, SI clarity: Faint color becomes visible in large diamonds over 1 carat. Inclusions visible under magnification but not to the naked eye. A great value option.

– M-O color, I1-I2 clarity: Noticeable yellow hue and inclusions visible under magnification. Much more affordable, excellent budget choice.

The combination you choose depends on your budget and preferences. It’s best to see diamonds in person when making your selection. Work with a reputable jeweler who will show you stones with various color/clarity combos so you can choose what’s right for you.

Prioritizing Color vs. Clarity

If you have to compromise on one over the other, many experts recommend prioritizing color over clarity.

While flaws and inclusions affect sparkle and brilliance, they are difficult to see once set in jewelry. Color is typically more obvious in finished jewelry.

Given the choice, pick an H color stone with an SI2 clarity over a J color stone with a VS2 clarity. While the second may have better clarity characteristics on paper, face-up the H color will show less visible color than the J.

Every diamond is unique, so it’s important to evaluate each stone individually. Work with an expert who can guide you in prioritizing beauty, sparkle and value.

Best Color and Clarity for Diamond Shapes

The ideal color and clarity combinations can vary slightly depending on the diamond cut. Here are some recommendations for popular shapes:

Round Brilliant:

Round shapes show color and clarity characteristics like inclusions and blemishes the most. Focus on choosing a whiter (D-H) color grade with higher clarity in the VS-SI ranges.


These square and rectangular shapes with sharp, transparent corners also show color and clarity very well. Stick with color grades under J and clarity down to SI for the best face-up appearance.


Ovals complement most skin tones. A faint yellow J-L color is usually acceptable with clarity in the SI ranges.


The step cut of emerald diamonds makes inclusions and color less obvious. Lower clarity (I1-I2) and color (K-M) can offer good value.


Focus on finding a cleaner stone since pear shape concentrates inclusions in the narrow tip. Choose VS clarity or better with color under J for best appearance.


Hearts are cut to showcase fire and brilliance. Hue and clarity are very visible. Select a diamond with color grading I or better and VS clarity or higher.


The Asscher cut highlights clarity and color. Look for stones with grades of H or better and VS2 clarity or higher.

Does Fluorescence Impact Color Appearance?

Some diamonds exhibit fluorescence, a glowing effect when exposed to ultraviolet light. Fluorescence can occur in nearly any color grade.

In very faint to faint fluorescent diamonds (the most common), the effect is negligible. But in diamonds with medium to strong fluorescence, some feel the glow can compensate for yellow tint and make the diamond face up whiter.

Others argue fluorescence has little impact on perceived color. If considering a fluorescent stone, be sure to examine it carefully in multiple lighting conditions. Work with experts to ensure the diamond suits your preferences.

How Cut Impacts Color and Clarity

Well-cut diamonds showcase color and clarity to their full potential. Diamonds with ideal cut proportions exhibit maximum light return through the crown.

In contrast, a poorly cut diamond with facets cut too shallow or deep can result in light leakage. This diminishes sparkle and makes imperfections and hue more obvious.

When evaluating diamond color and clarity, it’s essential to also assess the quality of the cut. Insist on ideal cut proportions to get the most beauty from your diamond.

Does Size Impact Color and Clarity Needs?

With diamond carat weight, sometimes less is more when it comes to color and clarity factors.

Large diamonds over 3 carats magnify body color and inclusions significantly. A lower color or clarity grade that’s adequate in a 1 carat stone might be more obvious in a 3 carat size.

Conversely, in diamonds under 1 carat, differences in color and clarity are less apparent. You may be able to go down a grade or two on clarity and color while still getting a beautiful diamond.

Evaluate diamond quality characteristics in the context of the carat size you are considering. Let size guide your decision making on acceptable levels of color and clarity.

How Should You Clean and Store Diamond to Maintain Color and Clarity?

Proper care is essential for keeping your diamond sparkling and preventing damage that can detract from color and clarity. Here are some tips:

– Clean diamonds regularly using a gentle jewelry cleaner or mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.

– Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub behind diamond settings and under gallery areas that can collect dirt and skin oils.

– After wearing diamond jewelry, wipe pieces down with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove grime before storage.

– Store diamonds separately from other gemstones and metals to prevent scratching. Place in soft cloth pouches or jewelry boxes with compartments.

– Keep your diamond away from harsh chemicals like bleach, acids, and household cleaners that can cause damage.

– Take your diamond to a professional jeweler once a year for inspection and cleaning to maintain its original color and clarity.

With proper care, your diamond should retain its sparkle and give you a lifetime of wear. Be sure to remove diamond jewelry before doing physical activities, sports, swimming, and sleeping.

Are Lab-Grown Diamonds a Good Option for Better Color and Clarity?

Lab-grown diamonds offer an affordable way to get higher color and clarity grades while spending less. Their man-made origins allow for greater control over diamond production.

Lab diamonds rate D-F in color with flaws virtually non-existent. Their exceptional color and clarity approaches that of top-grade mined diamonds at a fraction of the cost.

One downside is that lab diamonds do not hold resale value as well as natural. But for buyers wanting maximum brilliance and sparkle for their budget, lab diamonds present an appealing option.

Make sure to buy certified lab diamonds from reputable brands and look for GIA or AGS grading reports. Review lab diamond specifics carefully to verify they match your desired color and clarity levels.

Should You Buy Eye-Clean Diamonds to Get Better Apparent Clarity?

Eye-clean diamonds have no inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye, even if magnification may reveal some. They offer the look of flawless diamonds to casual observation.

Buying eye-clean diamonds certified as SI1 or VS2 clarity can give you the appearance of higher clarity at lower cost. It also allows you to potentially go up in carat weight.

Keep in mind eye-clean is subjective. Be sure to personally inspect any diamond certified eye-clean. Make decisions based on what your eyes see, not just what reports say.

How Reliable are Old Diamonds Certificates for Color and Clarity Grades?

Diamond grading technology has improved significantly in recent decades. Color and clarity assessments on decades-old certificates may not align with today’s stricter standards.

If you have an heirloom or antique diamond with an old report, get the stone reevaluated and re-certified by current grading labs before making jewelry or selling. Old certificates are mainly useful for ID purposes.

Do not make diamond quality or valuation decisions based on outdated documentation. Work with jewelers to understand if and how your diamond would differ if graded by today’s reports.


Choosing an ideal diamond involves balancing color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. While top color and clarity grades offer unmatched sparkle and brilliance, excellent diamonds are available at lower grades that meet most buyers’ needs.

Work within your budget to select a diamond with the optimal combination of color, clarity, and cut for your satisfaction. Let the diamond’s size and shape guide your decision making. Rely on certified reports and expert guidance to help you pick a diamond that looks stunning in its finished jewelry setting. With proper care, your chosen diamond will maintain its color and clarity to give you a lifetime of enjoyment.