HomeBlog4csColorColorless vs near colorless diamonds

Colorless vs Near Colorless Diamonds

by Willyou.net * Mar 12, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • The color of a diamond does matter but, like Clarity, you don’t need to take it to the extreme.
  • There are different grades to consider, and it is important to read our guide and open yourself up to each option.
  • Colorless diamonds, however, are not really worth it. They cost considerably more and there is hardly any noticeable difference between colorless and near colorless diamonds.
  • The best grade to go for will fall somewhere inside the near colorless range. We would recommend anywhere between grade D and J, but it really depends on whether you are going for a white gold or yellow gold diamond.
Colorless vs Near Colorless Diamonds

As one of the Four Cs and, in all likelihood, one of the first aspects of diamond quality you learned about when you first started researching the subject, it’s easy to get caught-up on diamond color.

After all, as soon as you become away of the (at times major) color differences between white diamonds, it’s hard to shake the idea that you could wind up spending thousands on a diamond, only to find that, when you first take it out into daylight, it’s actually an unsightly shade of pale yellow-brown.

It’s true that diamond color matters, and that you can’t afford to overlook it, or talk yourself into a lower grade than you’re comfortable with simply because you’ve found a diamond that is ideal in every other respect.

But, as with clarity, you don’t need to take color to extremes. We often advise readers to focus on the Near Colorless range for that reason, despite the fact that everyone shopping for a white diamond will feel that pull toward the Colorless grades.

What are Colorless Diamonds?

When we refer to colorless diamonds, we are talking about GIA graded diamonds with a color of D, E, or F.

As you likely already know, D is the highest color grade a diamond can be awarded. And, while the GIA’s color scale includes twenty-three separate grades (ranging from D through Z) only the top three grades are considered to be Colorless.

Objectively speaking, these are the best grades. Even a jeweler would struggle to spot the difference between them without the right lighting conditions, and even if you had the diamond set in a white gold or platinum setting, the color would remain imperceptible.

Nevertheless, Colorless diamonds are unlikely to be the best place for you to shop from.

What are Near Colorless Diamonds?

According to the GIA, the Near Colorless category of diamonds comprises those with a color grade of G, H, I, or J.

Following immediately on from the Colorless group, Near Colorless diamonds are, as the name suggests, very close to featuring no perceptible color at all. Of course, with four grades contained within this category, it’s a little easier to spot the difference. Comparing a G color with a J color diamond, for instance, will prove a lot easier than comparing a D color with an F color diamond.

Even so, the differences are minor. Consider how close to perfect Near Colorless diamonds are. Yes, it’s important to stay realistic about the potential downsides to being ‘too cavalier’ about your diamond’s color, but it’s also important to realize the benefits to focusing on the Near Colorless range.

Does Diamond Color Matter?

Yes, but only to a certain extent.

If you have read our guide to diamond clarity, then you’ll be aware of the fact that the top grades on the clarity scale also represent a waste of money for any shopper with a budget to stick to – even a substantial budget.

Flawless or almost-flawless diamonds are priced thousands of dollars higher than diamonds that are significantly more included – even if those inclusions are invisible to the naked eye.

In other words, yes, clarity matters, but getting the very best clarity grade money can buy is not the way to find the best diamond your money can buy.

The same thing holds true for color. It matters, but not enough to compel you to invest in one of the highest grades.

What’s more, getting a diamond with the least color possible matters even less if your stone is going to be set within a yellow gold setting. While we still wouldn’t advise you go lower than a J color grade, the metal will be substantially more yellow than a Near Colorless diamond and will help to offset any trace amount of color.

Since the yellow gold will be reflected through the diamond, there’s no value in buying a Colorless diamond.

Do Colorless Diamonds Sparkle More?

No. Color matters for the diamond’s appearance, rather than its light performance.

Sparkle is determined predominantly by the strength of a diamond’s cut. Even a D color diamond will suffer from a dull, lifeless light performance if the cut is poor.

This is by far the most important of the Four Cs to get right when it comes to sparkle, and that’s why we would always urge readers to do their research on Cut quality, and diamond proportion.

So, Is a Colorless Diamond Worth it?

No. Colorless diamonds cost significantly more because of the prestige attached to perfection in diamonds, not because there is any profound difference between Colorless and Near Colorless diamonds.

We’re not saying there isn’t any difference. Every single grade is, under the right conditions, distinguishable from the one that came before it, and the one that comes after it. Placed side-by-side – and with the right lighting – these differences become more obvious.

What we are saying is that, while indisputable, the difference between a Colorless and Near Colorless diamond is rarely substantial enough to warrant you paying hundreds of dollars more for the one that looks better on paper.

If you’re working to any sort of budget, then a colorless diamond is as much a waste of money as FL, IF, or even VVS clarity. There’s an element of excitement that comes from owning a diamond so rare and so close to perfection, but how often are you really going to look at the GIA report over the coming decades?

Save your money and forget about buying a colorless diamond.

Which is the Best Color Grade?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but the best grade for most shoppers will fall within the Near Colorless range,

Remember that some shapes retain color more than others. The Cushion, for instance, is a shape you’re likely to spot color in easier than you would if you were looking at a Round Brilliant.

Also, keep in mind what we said about your choice of metal. White gold and platinum will make it easier for you to pick out any contrasts between the metal and a slightly yellow diamond, whereas yellow gold will be wasted on a diamond with a particularly high color grade.

The only way to find that ‘sweet spot’ between D and J? Don’t try to buy your diamond online. It’s fine to browse diamonds, but, before you commit yourself or spend a single penny, you’ll want to head into the store and scrutinize it for yourself. Diamonds photographed under studio lights won’t behave in exactly the same way when they’re surrounded by colorful objects and clothing, moving between daylight and indoor lighting, and sparkling on the back of your hand.