One of the things we hear most often from our clients who are shopping for engagement rings is that it feels like there is just so much to learn...maybe even too much. What they want is an easy answer, a simple recommendation, a right or wrong option. But instead, they find that there is an exception to every rule and nothing is ever really black and white.
The truth is, they’re not wrong. There is a lot to learn when it comes to diamonds! (And we recommend educating yourself as best you can, given both the expense and significance of buying an engagement ring.)
However, we also understand wanting quick tips and straightforward help. And that’s why we’ve created this series.
Soon, we’ll be sharing an in-depth, expansive guide to buying diamonds that will cover everything you need to know. But that’s not this...
This series is for those looking to make the diamond-buying process as fast and simple as possible. If you want specific answers and direct advice, without (most of) the caveats and exceptions, you’ve come to the right place. Hope it helps!
First up in our series is the question of diamond color. In simple terms, what color grade should your engagement ring's diamond have?
The GIA grades diamonds on 4 key features (The 4 C’s), the first of which is color. The color of a diamond, or lack thereof, is graded on a scale of D through Z. All D-Z diamonds are considered white, even though they contain varying degrees of color. D is the highest or “best” grade on this scale, signifying that the diamond is colorless. Z is the lowest grade on the scale, signifying that the diamond is a faint yellow.
Keep in mind: This grading scale only pertains to white diamonds. True, fancy colored diamonds (such as yellow, pink, blue, etc.) are graded differently.
Generally speaking, a diamond that has less of an internal color will reflect light more purely, making it look brighter. And brighter a diamond is, the more attractive it is in its appearance. Therefore, diamonds with less internal color will cost more than a diamond with a yellow tint in a it, no matter how slight.
OVERALL FREEDMAN RECOMMENDATION:
If you’re looking for an easy, simple recommendation, without the usual “if this, then that” response, here’s ours:
F, G, and H diamonds are really the “bread and butter” color for engagement rings. So when in doubt, if you can, choose a diamond within that range.
While a D or E diamond is inarguably flawless in color, the only real benefit of having one is the bragging rights that come with it. This is especially true given the exponentially higher cost of a diamond with near colorless grading. So, again, if you are working within a budget, it’s best to spend your money elsewhere.
On the flip side, while you can find a beautiful diamond with a color grading in the I and J range (and we’re happy to help you if you choose to do so), we don’t usually recommend choosing one as the color will make a visible difference.
There you have it ... that’s our simple answer! However, here at Freedman Jewelers, our goal is to find the perfect diamond for each of our clients -- even those working on a very tight budget. So when affordability is a top priority, we take a more careful look at the ring’s overall style and setting in order to make a more specific recommendation that will optimize cost (while still maintaining a look you will love).
Here are our specific color recommendations based on your engagement ring's style, setting, and intended cost:
Solitaires: The color of a diamond is most important if it will be featured in a solitaire or accent ring setting. After all, the center stone will be the focus and attention-grabber of the ring. So if you’re interested in this style, we recommend choosing a diamond with the highest color you can afford (within reason - F, G, and H are all good options), and plan to compromise elsewhere.
Halos: If you choose a setting with a halo design, you’ll have a bit more wiggle room on the color of your diamond because a halo of diamonds can offset and mask any hint of yellow in the center stone. Plus, the halo serves to distract the eye from focusing too much on the center stone, making the color less important. So feel free to consider diamonds with a color grade as low as I for these settings, though we don’t recommend going any lower than that.
If your diamond will be set in white gold or platinum, we recommend choosing a diamond with a grade of at least I on the color scale.
If you are planning on a yellow or rose gold setting, you'll have more flexibility with the color of your diamond. In fact, you should feel comfortable considering diamonds with as low as a J or K grade.
Why? A yellow or rose gold setting actually masks the yellow tint of a diamond, where a white gold or platinum setting enhances it. In other words, if you took two diamonds that both have a K color grade - meaning they have a slightly yellowish tint - and placed one in a white gold setting and one in a yellow gold setting, you'll notice that the diamond in the white gold setting looks more yellow than the one in the yellow gold setting (as seen on the left!)
The shape of your stone will also affect what color diamond you’ll want to choose for your engagement ring.
ROUND: Of all the diamond shapes, round is the one that will offer the most flexibility in color, meaning you can consider diamonds with lower grades. Because of all their facets (cuts), round diamonds reflect the most light which creates the most sparkle. The more sparkle in a diamond, the less obvious any hint of internal color. So if you are on a tight budget and looking for a place to compromise, consider round diamonds in the lower range of our overall recommendations (H, I, J).
OVAL/CUSHION: Ovals and cushions are close relatives of the round cut diamond so they are naturally pretty sparkly. That said, because they have less facets, their internal color isn’t as easily masked or hidden by reflections as they are in round diamonds.
So if you’ve chosen either of these shapes, we recommend you choose a stone with an I or higher color grading (unless your ring also meets some of our other color guidelines, like a yellow gold setting or halo design).
EMERALD/RADIANT/ASSCHER: If you are looking at emerald cut diamonds, or others similar in shape, it’s more important to prioritize the color of your diamond.
Unlike a round or oval diamond which is admired for its sparkle, an emerald diamond features “step cuts” which look more a hall of mirrors. And while their large, open facets are elegantly striking, they they are also more revealing in their body color. In other words, there isn't any sparkle to mask a yellow tint. This is why many emerald shoppers are looking for near-flawless color gradings, which is actually driving up their cost even more than a typical D-F stone.
But before choosing a different shape because of the cost of a colorless grade, ask your jeweler to see a few in person. We’ve found that many of our clients actually prefer the warmer tone of a G-H emeralds compared to their less colorful, D-F options (see above). And it's possible the same may be true for diamonds of other shapes as well.
So, as always, you never really know until you see for yourself! And sometimes, pricier isn’t always better.
We hope this color guideline helps you in picking the perfect diamond for your engagement ring. Still have questions about diamond color and which grade is the right for your ring? Do keep in mind, these are just guidelines. Sometimes, other features of a diamond make up for a lower-than-recommended color grade. Other times, a diamond with an ideal color grade falls short elsewhere, making a stone with a lower grade more appealing.
Each diamond is unique and deserves to be examined and assessed based on its own individual beauty. So if a diamond looks beautiful to you, trust your eyes and your gut. It probably is! And sometimes, what your heart says about a diamond matters more than what its certification does.
Still have questions about what color grade is the right choice for your ring and why? Let us know! You can leave a comment here or on one of our social pages, or give us a call. We’d be happy to share more information on the topic. And if you’re ready to begin the process of choosing the perfect diamond for your engagement ring, schedule a visit or just stop by our store in Boston. Your dream diamond is out there, regardless of your budget and style. And we’re here to help you find it.
Keep an eye out for the next post in our “Quick and Easy Diamond Series,” which will focus on the second of the 4 C’s, diamond cuts!
Until next time,
The Freedman Team