Getting Maximum Value from Diamond Color & Clarity


There’s one important thing you need to know about diamond color and clarity:

You don’t need an extremely high color or clarity grade to get a stunning diamond.

When it comes to color and clarity, what most people want is a diamond that looks white and clean to the naked eye. You absolutely do not need a D color, Internally Flawless diamond to achieve that.

The best way to explain this is with a crash course in how color and clarity grading are done. Below are the standard color and clarity grading charts from the Gemological Institute of America.

GIA Color Grading Chart

GIA Clarity Grading Chart


THE SECRET OF “THE HIGH-VALUE SWEET SPOT”
People who have a bigger budget to work with may love colorless and very slightly included diamonds. Salespeople in the jewelry business also love to sell colorless, very slightly included diamonds because they’re more expensive. But, and I can’t overstate this, these are not right for everybody. Here’s why:
 
ON COLOR:  
The human eye can pick out extremes in color (an E color diamond vs. an M color for example), but it can’t pick out subtle differences. Unless you plan on carrying around a professional master set of color grading diamonds, 99%+ of people (including you) will not be able to tell the difference between an “F” colorless diamond and an “I” near colorless diamond.
 
So, if keep your purchase in the “Near Colorless” range (G-J), it will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars and give you a diamond that looks white and gorgeous to the naked human eye.
 
ON CLARITY:
Clarity grading is done at 10x magnification. Again, unless you plan on carrying around a 10x magnification jeweler’s loupe, you simply need the diamond to look “clean” (mostly free of inclusions) to the naked eye.

So, if you keep your purchase in the SI1-SI2 range, you will save a lot of money, and not compromise on the overall beauty of your diamond.

G-J color, SI clarity is the High-Value Sweet-Spot where you get maximum beauty for the best price.

“CLARITY ENHANCED” DIAMONDS
Clarity Enhanced diamonds, also known as “fractured filled,” are exactly what they sound like. They are diamonds of a low clarity grade whose appearance is enhanced by filling the fractures (cracks) inside the diamond with a lead-based glass.

There are pros and cons to clarity enhanced diamonds and you should be fully aware of both before you consider buying one.

The pros are that diamonds of a lower clarity grade cost less. You can get a beautiful clarity enhanced diamond for a price that would be impossible in a diamond that naturally has fewer inclusions.

The cons are that your diamond doesn’t just cost less, it is actually less valuable. Just because the fractures aren’t obvious, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If you ever wanted to sell your diamond, or trade it toward a larger diamond later, you will get less for it than a diamond that naturally has fewer inclusions.

You are also responsible for disclosing that your diamond is clarity enhanced whenever you take it in for service. Jewelers often use high-heat torches to work on the precious metal that holds your diamond in place. This is completely safe for diamond, but it will burn the lead-based glass in the fractures of a clarity enhanced diamond.

If you decide on clarity enhanced, you should also tell the wearer of the jewelry (if that’s not you), and tell them to disclose it to any jeweler who services their jewelry.

NEXT: Read about Diamond Size