Diamond Color vs. Clarity Explained

Published by Virtu on

When you are buying a diamond, you often question whether the color of the diamond is a more important factor to consider than its clarity? Both clarity and color indeed impact the diamond’s appearance, but you need to ensure finding the right balance between them. They are also not the only features you should look for while buying a diamond.

Suppose you had 12,000 dollars to buy a diamond that was the best possible color and had exceptional quality; you would end up ignoring other factors such as its size and weight. The diamond you will come home with will be beautiful but too small. If you focus solely on buying a big diamond, you might end up with a diamond with blemishes and inclusions, which would look unappealing. Thus, finding the right combination of all important factors, including color and clarity, is essential.

Before you buy a diamond, you need to have proper information about how the color and clarity of the diamond impact its appearance. Let us dive deeper into understanding the color and clarity of the diamond and how you can achieve a balance.

Impact of clarity on a diamond’s appearance

Suppose you have searched the market for a beautiful diamond that ticks all the right boxes. In that case, you must have heard terms like ‘clarity grade,’ ‘internally flawless,’ or ‘included.’ Diamonds are graded for their clarity on a scale that begins from internally flawless (IF) to included (I). The higher a diamond is graded on the clarity scale, the clearer its appearance is, with very few blemishes and black inclusions. The biggest mistake customers often make while buying a diamond is that they overpay for its clarity. Sellers usually try to misguide a customer into thinking that the clarity of the diamond when observed under the gemological microscope is more important than what is visible to the naked eye.

Instead of overpaying for flawless clarity, it is more important to opt for a diamond that looks clean, without any blemishes and inclusions to the naked eye. Suppose you have to choose between diamond A which is 1 carat, has VS1 clarity, costs 31% more than diamond B, which is also 1 carat, and has IF clarity. Both diamonds have the same cut, color, weight, eye clarity and look almost identical. Which one would you opt for? If you chose diamond A, then you have made the right choice. By choosing to spend less on the clarity grade of the diamond, which barely has any impact on its appearance to the naked eye, you can use the saved amount to invest in a larger diamond with a better color grade.

It is not worth spending on something that you will never notice. This does not mean you should not look for a diamond with good clarity but choose one that looks clean to your eyes and not worry too much about its clarity under a gemological microscope.

Impact of color on a diamond’s appearance

Just like there is a scale for clarity that runs from IF to I, there is a scale for grading the color of the diamond, which starts with D (colorless) and runs all the way to Z (visible brown or yellow tint). Typically, the majority of the diamonds used in jewelry lie between the grade D and M on the color scale. The rest of the diamonds with a higher letter grade on the color scale are reserved for industrial use. To understand the relationship between the appearance of the diamond and its color grade, refer to the picture below to see color grades D to I.

The closer a diamond is on the color grade scale to D, the more colorless it is, and it is less likely to have a yellow or brown hue. The color of the diamond plays a huge role in the overall look of your jewelry. However, you should only focus on the color as long as it looks colorless relative to its jewelry setting. You do not need to overpay for a D color grade diamond if your G, H, or I grade diamond looks the same in your ring. All diamonds in the D, E, or F color grade look almost identical to those in the G, H, or I range, so you can minimize the cost by choosing the latter.

Suppose you have diamond A, a 1 carat, G color diamond, and it costs $2000 less than diamond B, which is a 1 carat, D color diamond. Which one would you opt for? If your choice was diamond B, think again because it is not worth spending $2000 more for a diamond that practically looks the same as a diamond from a different color range and costs way less.

Another thing to remember is that differently shaped diamonds display their colors differently. For example, an emerald cut diamond that has sharp cuts will show any internal color more, whereas a round cut diamond will be better at concealing any internal color.

Comparison between diamond color and clarity

By now, you already know that both color and clarity are important features to look for when buying a diamond. They both greatly impact a diamond’s appearance; however, they are not the only features you should look at when comparing your diamond options.

Before you start shopping for your diamond, familiarize yourself with the 4 Cs of the diamonds, including cut, color, carat weight, and clarity. Knowing these 4 diamond properties will help you choose the right diamond for your budget since they play a huge role in determining what the diamond looks like and what it typically costs.

When we talk about finding the right balance of factors that impact a diamond’s appearance, we mean that you need to focus on the aspects that matter and affect a diamond’s appearance and worry less about the ones that do not.

You could achieve the right balance by considering color and clarity as to the negative features of a diamond. The color and poor clarity with blemishes and inclusions are features you do not want in your diamond. So, if these features are not visible, you will have a diamond that looks beautiful to the naked eye.

Your diamond’s cut and carat weight is considered the positive features because you need them to be present in your diamond as much as possible. From all the 4 Cs of a diamond, you should start by focusing on the cut quality. Once you have found a cut you find appealing, you can begin to look at the clarity grade of each of the options you sorted out. The clarity of the diamond should be checked by looking at it from the naked eye. If the diamond looks eye-clean to you, you can move on to explore each option’s color grade. You should not just look at the color of the diamond on its own, but compare every diamond’s color in the type of jewelry setting you want and filter out the possibilities. Many diamonds will look almost identical in your jewelry setting, which means you can get rid of the more expensive options.

After you have identified the cut, clarity, and color of your options, you may now dedicate as much of your budget as you would like to the carat weight of the diamonds. However, if you are shopping online for your diamond, we have compiled some easy-to-follow steps below.

Shopping online for your diamond

You may follow the steps below to make your online shopping process for diamonds much easier.

Limiting your search

It would be best if you tried to limit your search by focusing on diamonds that have excellent cuts. Excellent cuts in a diamond are more important than its color or clarity. If your diamond is clear and colorless but does not have a brilliant-looking cut, nothing is appealing about it. For online shopping, use the filter feature on the search page to limit your search results.

GIA approved

Ensure that the brand or manufacturer you are thinking of buying your diamond from is GIA approved. GIA is the Gemological Institute of America that approves all the diamond sellers who do not use unapproved enhancement methods for diamonds. All brands that the GIA approves are certified and reliable in terms of their color and clarity grading information.


Focus on buying the diamond that appears to be eye-clean. You do not need to worry too much about the diamond’s clarity under a gemological microscope as long as it looks clean to your eyes. You should not fall for any scams by sellers who make it sound like a big deal if the diamond is not the best grade on the color and clarity scales. Please do not overpay for a feature that does not look different and better to the naked eye.

Remember, certain shapes display clarity differently. Some shapes hide the black inclusions better than others. So always try to opt for a shape that is better at hiding the inclusions and looks clean to your eyes.


Always try to opt for a diamond that does not appear yellow. A diamond that appears yellow has a color grade in the latter range of the scale and is mostly used for industrial purposes. However, if a diamond does not appear yellow to your eyes and also looks colorless in your desired jewelry setting, there is no need to overpay for a D color grade diamond. The color of your diamond may look different in various settings. For example, it may look more yellow or brown toned in a setting of colored metals such as rose and yellow gold but look colorless with metals such as white gold and platinum.

Please also keep in mind that the cut of the diamond plays a significant role in how well the diamond can conceal any color within it. Brilliant cut diamonds are better at hiding a yellow or brown color than step cut diamonds. You may ask your seller for color grade suggestions when deciding your jewelry setting.

Side stones

If your ring or any other piece of jewelry has side stones around your diamond, ensure that their color and clarity match the color and clarity of your diamond. These side stones are also known as diamond accents and greatly impact the overall look of your jewelry, making it look too yellow or overly white if their color and clarity do not match your diamond’s color and clarity.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a D color diamond?

The color of a diamond ranges from a color grade scale starting from D all the way to Z. The color grades D, E, and F are colorless. The grades G, H, and I are called nearly colorless. J, K, L, and M are faintly colored. N to R color grades are very lightly colored. S to Z grades are lightly colored.

  • What are inclusions in diamonds?

All diamonds have a few imperfections. These imperfections are known as inclusions, and they are in the form of black dots, markings, or air bubbles inside the diamond. The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the better its clarity and, thus, increased worth.

  • Do all diamonds sparkle?

All diamonds reflect light differently, with their shape being a big factor. Most people expect all diamonds to spark a lot; however, that is not the case. Round cut diamonds sparkle the most, with princess, oval, pear, and heart the second most sparkly cuts. Baguette, emerald, and cushion are not very sparkly but give off long light flashes.


To sum it up, you can easily say that a diamond’s color and clarity largely impact its appearance and are important factors to consider. However, it is also important to understand that focusing too much on either of them will not be worth it, and achieving a balance is the right way to buy a diamond. It is not worth paying extra for flawless clarity and an absolutely colorless diamond. For clarity, focus on whether the diamond looks clean to your eyes and no blemishes or inclusions are visible. Ensure the diamond does not look yellow relative to your jewelry setting for color. If you have not spent your entire budget after finding your ideal color and clarity, you may invest in a larger diamond.

Categories: Jewelry


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