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Diamond Color vs. Clarity: Which Factor Is More Important?

Diamond Color vs. Clarity: Which Factor Is More Important?

When purchasing a diamond, it’s vital to consider every element of the stone, as each one plays a role in the diamond’s beauty and value.

Apart from cut quality and carat weight, there are two more important aspects of a diamond’s quality – which begs the question: Diamond color vs. clarity, which factor is more important?

Both of these impact the stone’s beauty and overall appearance, but as we said, they aren’t the only features you should consider. 

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about diamond color and clarity – and everything else you should look for when buying a diamond. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

What Is Diamond Color?

A diamond’s color specifies how clear or yellow the stone is. The highest quality diamonds are completely colorless – while lower quality gems can often have a yellow tint.

Diamond color is measured using the GIA color scale, from D to Z – color D is colorless, and Z is yellowish or brown. There are quite a few diamond color grades between D and Z, of course, all ranging from almost colorless to slightly yellow. 

When looking to purchase a diamond, the color is one factor that shouldn’t be overlooked since gems can vary significantly in price depending on their color. That essentially means that choosing the right color for your needs could save you some money without impacting the appearance of the jewelry.

Distinctly colored diamonds are available in pink, yellow, or blue colors and are generally priced higher than most other diamonds. However, a yellow tint is often not seen as desirable. That’s because when a slight color is present, the gem reflects less natural light to the viewer’s eyes. So, the more white or colorless a gemstone is, the more radiant and valuable it is.

Colorless diamonds are scarce and rank much higher on the scale of color grading than a stone that has even the slightest touch of yellow to it.

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Does The Color Grade Matter When Buying A Diamond?

Diamond color definitely matters, but only to a certain point. The way we generally approach the diamond’s 4 C’s, we separate carat weight and cut from clarity and color

Carat and cut are positive factors that you generally want to maximize as much as possible.

When it comes to color, there’s usually a point where you can see if the stone is colorless or if it possesses a yellowish tint. You should generally ensure that you don’t purchase a diamond with a yellowish tint that’s noticeable when viewed with a naked eye.

The line between clearness and yellowish tint varies depending on the diamond’s shape and the ring style in which you’re mounting the stone, though. Once the diamond looks clear enough to you, there’s nothing much to gain from spending more on a higher grade of color. 

Remember that purchasing a diamond is a zero-sum game. So, if you decide to spend more on the color grade, you’ll have to sacrifice brilliance, size, or clarity – and that’s something you’d want to avoid.

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Several Things To Remember About Diamond Color

Here are a few things to remember: 

  • The absence of color is usually one of several crucial indicators of good value.
  • The diamond’s color grade should always be evaluated by a grading professional.
  • Diamond’s grade and value differ between colorless and colored stones.
  • Diamond colors are graded on a scale from D to Z, with most gemstones used in jewelry falling somewhere in the range from D to M.
  • The ring’s setting can play a role in viewing and perceiving the diamond’s color.

Before we continue with the specifics of diamond color, let’s touch upon a few things.

Firstly, the difference between color grades is negligible, so much so that they’re almost impossible to perceive – with the naked eye, that is.

However, the difference between one color grade and another color grade that’s four above or below is usually easy to notice when diamonds are set side by side. That’s especially true when the diamonds are under bright light and magnification is used.

Second, like with everything else diamond-related, there’s no actual need to opt for the best possible color grade. Unless you have an unlimited budget, purchasing a D color diamond is entirely unnecessary when a well-cut G or H color diamond would look just as gorgeous once it’s set in a piece of jewelry.

Three, the shape of the diamond and the type of metal you select for the setting both impact which color grade would be best. For instance, the round brilliant cut is perfect for hiding color, whereas the emerald cut isn’t. 

That means that you’ll have to choose a setting that’s appropriate for the color and shape of the stone. Some can hide faint yellow colors better – such as rose or yellow gold – than white gold or platinum.

Just like the quality of the cut, carat weight, and clarity, the color of the stone is only one crucial factor to keep in mind when purchasing a diamond. However, in order to get the best value, it’s critical to balance color with the remaining C’s of diamond grading.

What Is Diamond Clarity?

Diamond clarity refers to a qualitative metric that describes the visual appearance of a diamond. In a nutshell, the fewer blemishes and inclusions a stone has, the better its clarity grade.

The diamond’s clarity can have a substantial impact on its price. However, many imperfections that impact a diamond’s clarity grade are invisible to the naked eye, meaning you’ll have some wiggle room in that department.

What Is A Diamond Clarity Chart?

To provide diamond buyers with an understanding of each clarity level, grading entities, such as the GIA and AGS use clarity charts to evaluate diamonds based on their general appearance. Each gem then gets a clarity grade within a given scale.

Diamond clarity scales range from IF to I, and each clarity grade has its subgrades that provide more detail about the visibility of imperfections within the diamond.

We’ve covered the different clarity grades below:

  • Internally Flawless (IF) – Diamond has no internal or external imperfections, and diamonds with this clarity grade are extremely hard to come across.
  • Very Very Small Inclusions 1 (VVS1) – Diamond clarity inclusions graded VVS1 aren’t detectable at all under 10x magnification.
  • Very Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2) – Diamond clarity inclusions graded VVS1 are sometimes barely visible under 10x magnification. When these imperfections are visible, they’re pretty hard to notice.
  • Very Small Inclusions 1 (VS1) – These diamonds have inclusions that are barely visible under 10x magnification. When looking at a VS1 clarity diamond, it can sometimes take a few seconds until the imperfection is located.
  • Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2) – Diamonds with VS2 clarity grade possess inclusions that are almost always detectable under 10x magnification. Sometimes, the imperfection will be located in a hard-to-spot location. Otherwise, the imperfection is big enough to be noticed quickly under magnification.
  • Small Inclusions 1 (SI1) – SI1 clarity inclusions are easily detectable with a standard jeweler’s loupe. With most diamond shapes, SI1 clarity inclusions are, in most cases, clean to the naked eye.
  • Small Inclusions 2 (SI2) – SI2 clarity inclusions are easily noticeable with the help of the 10x magnification. With step cuts such as Asscher and Emerald cuts, SI2 clarity inclusions will probably be visible to the naked eye.
  • Inclusions 1 (I1) – Diamonds with I1 clarity grade contain inclusions that are even more obvious. Even on brilliant cuts, most I1 inclusions are detectable by the naked eye.

Related Read: What Is The Best Clarity For The Diamond Necklace?

How Are Clarity Grades Determined?

Natural diamonds are created deep below the Earth’s crust, at a depth ranging from 130 to 200 kilometers, and they face extreme temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius. 

While their creation takes billions of years, the diamonds that emerge in perfect conditions are the rarest. Diamonds are often imperfect and possess varying amounts of surface blemishes and internal inclusions.

When determining the diamond’s clarity on a specific scale, experts will commonly inspect the gemstone’s appearance under a microscope when it’s face up. They use a higher magnification grade to locate any diamond imperfections.

Five factors play an essential role in how a particular diamond is graded and how its grade on the diamond clarity chart is evaluated. 

These five roles include size, number, nature, location, and relief of the inclusions:

  • Size – The inclusions’ size in a diamond is one of the key factors in evaluating its clarity grade. That is due to the fact that the bigger the inclusions, the bigger the effect they’ll have on the gemstone’s appearance.
  • Number – Grading laboratories also take into account the number of imperfections within a diamond. For example, if the stone has a significant number of flaws, even if they’re small, they can significantly impact its clarity and overall appearance.  
  • Nature – “Nature” refers to the kind of imperfections that can be seen within the gemstone and the depth of these imperfections within the diamond. This factor also covers other attributes of inclusions that can be seen within the diamond.
  • Location – The location of the inclusion refers to its position within the diamond. If the imperfection is situated in close proximity to the table’s center, then the mark is more visible, and the clarity grade will be affected more drastically.
  • Relief – The relief refers to how visible the imperfections are compared to the gemstone. To put it simply, how much contrast there is between the inclusion and the diamond. The higher the diamond’s relief, the darker its color might seem, which could affect diamond grading.

The Most Common Mistake Involving Diamond Clarity

When purchasing a diamond, we generally advise that you spend the majority of your budget on factors you’ll notice the most, like carat weight and cut quality – and then pay only as much as required on the remaining of the 4 C’s.

And you know what’s one common mistake people make when purchasing a diamond? Buying one with a clarity grade that’s just too high to appreciate – because they believe it will be a good investment.

That leads to overspending on a factor that looks good on paper. However, it has minimal effect on a diamond’s overall appearance in real life.

The reality of diamond clarity is this: Many imperfections that determine the difference between an IF clarity grade and a VVS1 clarity grade, for instance, are completely invisible to the naked eye.

Here’s what this means: 

By focusing on the clarity grade rather than the gemstone’s actual appearance, you’ll end up spending more of your budget on something you won’t even see. That’s a real shame because you could’ve spent that money to get a bigger diamond, for example.

Types Of Inclusions In Diamond Clarity

Even though the term “inclusion” is generally used to refer to any and all imperfections within a diamond, there are a few different types of inclusions that can impact a diamond’s appearance and beauty.

We’ve covered the most common kinds of diamond inclusions below:

  • Cloud – A group of tiny pinpoints that are clustered together. These can impact a gem’s brilliance by giving the stone a hazy and dull look. If a diamond has a lot of big clouds, it’s called a cloudy diamond.
  • Graining – A type of internal inclusion developed due to irregular crystal growth. When a stone has graining, it exhibits white, colored, or reflective lines within the stone that give it a very hazy appearance.
  • Cavity – Surface cracks or dents in a diamond. A cavity can appear colorless or colored, depending on the type of minerals present within the diamond’s body. If these inclusions are colored, they’ll be much easier to notice and can probably be seen by the naked eye.
  • Feather – Tiny cracks that have a feathery look when viewed from a certain angle. While some feathers are barely noticeable, others are obvious. When stones possess feathers, they can appear clear, or they can capture light and exhibit a white appearance.

Related Read: What Are The Characteristics Of A Diamond?

Conclusion

Diamond color vs clarity – two factors that play a significant role in how a diamond will appear to the wearer. 

A stone with a poor clarity grade can appear “dirty,” with noticeable blemishes and inclusions. However, beyond the point at which the stone becomes eye-clean, it’s not really worth paying extra money for a higher clarity grade.

In addition, a diamond with a poor color grade appears yellowish. However, it’s not worth paying more money for flawless color. Instead, you should focus on finding a stone that seems white once it’s mounted in jewelry.

If money is tight, we recommend spending it on other, more crucial factors, such as carat weight and cut quality.

Related Read: What Are The Most Popular Diamond Colors And Clarities?