Diamond Color vs Clarity

diamond color vs clarity

Bottom Line Recommendations…

  • Color and clarity are two of the diamond’s 4Cs. While it may be argued that the cut and carat weight have a greater effect on the appearance of the diamond, color and clarity are also highly important considerations. Some diamond shapes are better at hiding color and tint while others are better at hiding inclusions. You can play with these two factors to get an eye-clean diamond at a cheaper price.
  • The lower you go on the clarity scale, the lower the price gets. When buying brilliant cuts, you can afford to go as low as SI1. The fire and brilliance will hide the imperfections. Take a look here. You cannot go as low with the step cuts such as the emerald cut as you can see here. They focus more on clarity and their large tables mean that it is easy to spot the imperfections. Never compromise too much on the clarity with step cuts.
  • You can compromise on color when you are looking for a great deal with both brilliant cuts and step cuts. This is because you have the option of a yellow gold setting. It will shine the yellow hue through the diamond making it appear whiter than it is.
  • As you go lower on the color scale, the appearance of the diamond starts to look more yellow. The lowest color grade diamonds will not look as appealing. Clarity also affects the appearance of the diamond. More visible imperfections will make the diamond less appealing as you can see here. Keep this in mind when buying your diamond and only go for the color grade and clarity grade you are comfortable with.

James Allen Diamonds

If you’ve done your homework before heading out in search of the perfect diamond, then you know that the quality of a diamond is based on its 4Cs. These are the cut, carat weight, color, and clarity.

It is the absence of color that gives the diamond its value. On the other hand, it is the absence of imperfections that gives it its clarity value.

This means that the perfect diamond has no color, is ice clear, and will have no imperfections.

The carat weight of a diamond determines its weight and its appearance, while the cut will affect how much fire, brilliance, and scintillation the diamond will have.

Anyone who has experience with diamonds will tell you that the cut is the most important of the 4Cs. But between color and clarity, which of the two is more important?

The truth is that you can play with these two variables to get the best deal from your diamond. You can also get diamonds that rank lower on both the clarity scale and the color scale but will appear colorless to the naked eye.

Diamond Clarity Scale

Diamond Clarity

When the diamond doesn’t have any visible inclusions and ranks lower in the clarity scale, it will usually come with an affordable price tag.

The GIA clarity scale of VS1 or higher will provide you with an eye-clean diamond. You can even get a much better deal when you move lower into the SI1 or SI2 clarity scales.

Note that you may find diamonds in these lower clarity scales that are eye-clean. It all comes down to how the other factors such as fire and brilliance affect the clarity of the stone.

More fire and brilliance will mask the imperfections making them hard to spot with the naked eye and resulting in a beautiful stone that comes at a cheap price.

It is crucial to observe diamond yourself to make the best choice.

Diamond Color Guide

Diamond Color

It is far easier to compromise on the color of a diamond than on the clarity. You can consider stones low on the color scale and go as far down the scale as you can tolerate. And the more you can compromise, the more you can save.

The importance of the color and clarity scales

You may want a neat looking diamond but you are limited by your budget.

Is a diamond with more color and fewer imperfections better than a diamond with less color and more imperfections?

It will all come down to the diamond shape. Note, however, that the diamond shape is not the same as the diamond cut. Some shapes are better at hiding color while other shapes are better at hiding imperfections.

Between color and clarity of the diamond, before you can decide which of the two to give priority, consider the shape that you are interested in.

The diamond clarity and color chart

Diamond ShapeDiamond clarityDiamond color
Emerald cutSince this is a step cut and features a large table and wide look, tiny imperfections, and inclusions will be easily noticeable.


This cut focuses more on clarity than on fire and brilliance and this is why priority needs to be given to clarity.


It is advisable to go for an emerald cut that is VS2 and above.

Color can also be easily spotted on the emerald cut. It is therefore important to go for color grade H or higher.
Round cutDue to the brilliance and fire of the round cut, they hide imperfections much better than almost any other diamond shape.


This means that you can go much lower on the clarity scale and still achieve an eye-clean diamond.


What’s more, is that you will save considerably on the price of the diamond.

The round diamond will also do an excellent job at hiding color. This also means that you can go much lower on the color scale.


You will save a lot of money and itis recommended to go for a round diamond with a color grade of J and above.


Princess cutPrincess cut diamonds may not have the fire and brilliance of a round cut. However, they still offer decent brilliance which means that you can compromise on the clarity.


That said, it is important to note that the inclusions that are located near the edges may make the diamond prone to chipping.


Clarity is therefore of the utmost importance when judging a cushion cut.  It is recommended not to go below the SI1 clarity scale.

The princess cut can hide color thanks to its brilliance but since it is not as bright as a round diamond, you will not be able to compromise as much on the color.

The best color grade is I or higher.

Cushion cutIt is easy to spot inclusions in the cushion cut due to their large tables.

It is therefore important to focus on clarity and not go below SI1 on the clarity scale.



However, it is far more important to focus on the color scale. This is because the cushion cuts have a tendency to retain more color.


If you are trying to avoid diamonds with any tint, choose color grade H or above. To the naked eye, these diamonds will appear colorless.

Radiant cutDue to the higher number of facets, the radiant cut has a lot of fire and brilliance.


This means that imperfections will be well-hidden and you can afford to go much lower on the clarity scale.


In fact, going as low as SI1 and SI2 will still give you a diamond that is eye-clean.

When shopping for radiant cut diamonds, the color should be given priority over clarity.


The H color grade or above is preferred in radiant cut diamonds. The diamond will appear colorless in this case.

Pear cutClarity takes a back seat while priority is given to color with the pear cut.


The pear shape is still capable of giving a lot of brilliance so you can go down the clarity scale to SI1 or SI2.


This allows you to save considerably on the price.

The pear shape is more likely to show color compared to other diamond shapes. Priority should, therefore, be given to the color when choosing the most appealing pear cut.


For a pear cut lower on the color scale you can pick a yellow gold setting. The hue will shine through and contrast with the diamond making it appear white.


Asscher cutThe Asscher cut is a step-cut diamond. Because of the wide facets, inclusions are more likely to be spotted so priority should be given to the diamond clarity.


It is advisable to choose a diamond in the VS2 clarity grade or higher.

As for the color, you can afford to go lower on the color scale as far down as I.


In this case, a yellow gold setting will make the diamond appear whiter


Oval cutThe oval cut has plenty of brilliance which will obscure the inclusions.


Because of this, you can go lower on the clarity scale and pick a stone that is in the SI1 and SI2 clarity grade.

Oval cuts tend to hide any tints of color quite well. However, priority should still be given to the diamond color over clarity.


Pick an oval cut in the H color grade or higher.


When you should give priority to a diamond color

There are instances when a diamond color is more important than its clarity. The setting, for example, is a highly important consideration. If you are planning on going for a white gold or platinum setting, any tint in the diamond will be made even more visible.

This could cause the diamond to appear darker than the setting.

On the other hand, if you are planning on a yellow gold setting, any Tintin the diamond will be hidden making the diamond appear whiter than it is. This is a good idea when going lower on the color scale.

When you should give priority to diamond clarity

The clarity of a diamond will often start being an issue as you move further down the clarity scale. To the naked eye, Flawless diamond will look similar to a very slightly included diamond.

However, if you move down to the SI1 or SI2 grades, you can see the flaws in the diamond with the naked eye.

If you plan on using a yellow gold setting with a stone that has some visible tint, you should move higher on the clarity grade. This is because the diamond will appear white and therefore any inclusions will be more visible.

In this case, the diamond needs to be eye-clean.

Color vs Clarity — Diamond brilliance

It is the diamond cut that has the largest impact on the brilliance of a stone.

That said, the color or clarity of the diamond will have an effect on its brilliance. A whiter stone will appear more brilliant than the colored stone.

Diamondslower in the color scale might appear darker and the eye may perceive this as being less brilliant even though the overall brilliance of the diamond is mainly affected by its cut.

A stone with fewer imperfections means that the rays of light are not obstructed and are therefore reflected in an optimal way.

Inclusions especially when they are numerous and visible to the naked eye will affect the brilliance of a stone.

Color vs Clarity — Diamond appearance

The lower you go on the diamond color scale, the more tints the diamond tends to have. Diamonds lower than the K color grade has a visible yellow tint. This makes them appear less appealing than colorless diamonds.

Unless you are going for a fancy colored diamond, the aim is to minimize the severity of the tint as much as possible. You can achieve this by using the right diamond setting.

The diamond clarity will affect its appearance. Whenever you are evaluating a diamond, priority needs to be given to how eye clean a diamond will look.

Diamondshigher up on the clarity scale is more appealing as the inclusions will not be visible to the naked eye. The opposite is true. A diamond that has inclusions that can be seen is not as appealing.


The diamond-cut may be the most important consideration of all. However, color and clarity will affect the overall appeal and performance of the diamond. In some diamond shapes, clarity is a more important consideration while in others it is the color that should be considered.

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