When couples come into Reve Diamonds to shop for an engagement ring we are often asked the question which is the more important factor to consider diamond clarity or diamond colour? This question is often asked as the basis for a trade-off between these two factors when deciding upon a diamond. For example, should I choose between a diamond with SI1 clarity and G colour or and VS2 clarity and H colour?
This is a hard question to give a straight answer to as there are circumstances when colour matters more than clarity and vice versa. However, what also must be borne in mind is that these are two unrelated attributes much as when going to buy a car for example the colour isn’t related to the fuel consumption, you need to consider both factors separately but meet both requirements to be happy with your purchase. So in terms of diamonds a more educated approach would be to consider clarity and colour independently then decide what the minimum acceptable level is for each attribute. So to help you to do this let’s take a look at the facts:
Firstly the diamond will be visually considered to see if it is ‘eye clean’. This means it will be examined with the naked eye from a distance of 9 – 12 inches without magnification to determine if any inclusions or flaws are present. The diamond will then be more scientifically evaluated using a 10x magnification loupe to determine the extent of any inclusions, and also identify any additional flaws inclusions which may be present. The top clarity grade, FL (Flawless), is assigned to diamonds that have no visible inclusions when looked at with a 10x loupe. The lower a diamond’s clarity grade the more likely you are to see imperfections such as black spots or lines within the stone.
Diamonds are graded for an absence of colour, and then each colour grade represents a range of colour. The scale begins with D-colourless which is considered to be the highest colour decreasing Z which is the lowest grade of colour and used to describe diamonds which are faint yellow. Diamonds are colour graded by placing them on a white tray upside down so that they are sitting on the table facet with the culet pointing up in the air. This is under a diamond grading light which is controlled lighting that is colour corrected. They are observed from the side profile in a completely dark room, and then compared side-by-side with other diamonds known as a “master set” which have already been graded for colour. The colour of a diamond is relatively easy to determine from a side profile under this type of controlled lighting environment but it is much more difficult to establish the true colour under normal lighting from the top-down.
How to choose diamond colour and clarity
Our first recommendation is that you ensure that the diamond is ‘eye clean’ so has no inclusions that are obvious enough to be visible to the naked eye. You do not necessarily need to go for the diamond with highest clarity as diamonds graded VS1-VS2 or SI1 can look just as clean as FL/IF-clarity stones if you choose a diamond that is pleasing to the eye. If you are buying a round diamond for a yellow gold setting, you can safely pick a stone with a colour graded as low as J, K or L, possibly even an M and not worry about the visibility of any tints of yellow when the diamond is set into your engagement ring. However, for other cuts of diamonds you may need to decide upon a higher colour grade such as I, J or K. For a round diamond set in white gold or platinum or white gold then we recommend that you do not go any lower than the colour grades H, I or J. For other cuts G or H is a good choice, but don’t go lower than I colour.
Should I focus more on clarity or colour when choosing the diamond for my engagement ring?
As we have previously said when shopping for a diamond engagement ring the focus upon clarity ‘v’ colour is very much down to your personal preference and quality of vision.
If having an engagement ring with a white gold or platinum setting then selecting a high grade colour will be more important than having top clarity as it is very important for the diamond not to have visible tints. If you set a diamond with slight yellowish tints in white gold or platinum, the yellow will stand out even more against the white backdrop, and the diamond will look darker than its setting. A small inclusion on the side of the diamond would spoil its appearance much less than the diamond’s low-grade colour in these circumstances.
Clarity starts to matter a lot when it is too low. There is not much difference to the naked eye between a diamond graded IF or FL than one within the VS1-VS2 clarity range but diamonds with clarity graded below SI1/SI2 are very likely to have visible flaws. Clarity is much more important when your engagement ring is to be yellow gold setting as this colour of metal can absorb the yellowish tints in a low-grade diamond making it look whiter in contrast to the gold. Therefor in this scenario you would be well advised to choose a diamond that looks clean to the naked eye rather than opting for a perfectly white colour.
One selection factor that should be considered is the overall quality of the cut of the diamond. The reason for this is that the cut determines the amount of light that is refracted by the diamond which gives the diamond its sparkle and brightness. So always choose a diamond that is cut to deliver the maximum volume of light return, brilliance and sparkle which will make it more difficult to locate inclusions. Plus well cut diamonds tend to look whiter than diamonds which are not so well cut.
If you are still in doubt as to the importance of clarity and colour our highly experienced team here at Reve Diamonds are very happy to answer any questions and provide good advice on this, or any other diamond related matter.