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Are J Color Diamonds Best Bang For Your Buck?

by Willyou.net * Sep 10, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • With every one of the Four Cs, there will be a sweet spot – a middle ground between the best and worst of the grading system.
  • For some shoppers, this sweet spot may be the J color grade. It is the most affordable of the Near Colorless grades, but still offers plenty of options for diamonds that appear colorless.
  • It is, however, important to keep wary. If you want a big diamond, then the color of a J grade diamond can be more apparent.
  • Visiting the jewelers and seeing the diamond for yourself is crucial in avoiding this. You can’t judge color effectively through a computer screen, or using the color grade alone.
pave princess j color engagement ring -

Color can be a tricky subject for diamond shoppers. First of all, you’ve got to get your head around the idea that most clear diamonds technically aren’t clear – then, you’ve got to get used to the idea that, in all likelihood, yours won’t be, either. 

The great news is that, even if a skilled diamond grader has been able to identify a definitive tint to your diamond, it’s pretty likely that you won’t notice it yourself. There’s a long spectrum between the clearest diamonds in the world, and the ones that are suffering from a deal-breaking and undeniable yellow cast – and that’s why you probably can’t remember the last time a friend, co-worker, or sister flashed a noticeably yellow diamond your way. It’s easy enough to avoid, provided you know what you’re looking for.

This is why so many shoppers end up looking at the J color grade. While nowhere near the very top of the scale, it seems to fall in that comfortable stretch – the ‘sweet spot’ we talk about for anyone looking to purchase a diamond within their budget.

The Color Grade

Whether you already know a little about the GIA Color Scale, or are just now finding out for the first time that ‘color’ is something you need to be thinking about, here are the basics of J diamonds.

What is a J Color Diamond?

A J Color Diamond is one that has been recorded as part of the ‘Near Colorless’ group of diamonds, six grades from the top of the scale.

The GIA Color Scale runs through D-Z, and is divided into a number of subcategories ranging from Colorless (D-F), through Near Colorless (G-J), Faint (K-M), Very Light (N-R) and Light (S-Z). It is used to identify the presence of a yellow or brown tint in otherwise clear diamonds – something which is incredibly common, due to the presence of trace amounts of nitrogen, which interact with light in a unique way to create a yellow-ish hue.

A very, very small amount of nitrogen will have no discernible impact on the diamond, while a larger amount can give some diamonds a deep, yellow coloration. In some diamonds, this yellow hue will go beyond the D-Z color scale. They will be known as ‘fancy color’ diamonds, and graded differently.

Clear diamonds, however, remain the most popular choice among casual shoppers. As you’ve no doubt guessed, any visible yellow tint is avoided in clear diamonds, and considered a sign of a poorer quality diamond.

Is J Color Noticeable?

Yes and no. If you’re scrutinizing the diamond from all angles in search of a hint of yellow, then you’ll probably notice it. If, however, it is set within a beautiful ring and being admired by your future bride’s friends and family, it’s very unlikely they’ll spot it.

The answer depends on what you consider to be noticeable. Yes, many J color diamonds carry a very faint, just-discernible yellow tint, which will be more obvious from the side rather than the diamond’s table (upper surface), and largely concealed by the ring setting

Is J Diamond Too Yellow?

Not at all. While J Diamonds will show a hint of color (either yellow or, less commonly, brown) it will still be marginal, and, for the most part, go unnoticed by the naked eye.

As we mentioned above, a very slight yellow tint can be more visible when viewing the diamond from the side, rather from the top down. Fortunately, in engagement rings, it is far more common for the diamond to be viewed through the table (the flat part at the top of the diamond).

Also, if you are still worried about any yellow tint showing up in your diamond, then it is worth keeping in mind that some diamond shapes are much better at masking slight discoloration than others. The longer facets and ‘hall of mirrors’ style internal structure of the Emerald cut can mean that any slight color is laid bare more than it is in brilliant and fancy cuts.

The same thing goes for picking a complementary setting. In diamonds with a faint color, the bright white appearance of white gold or platinum can actually highlight any vague yellow tint in the center stone, and make it seem more obvious than it is. In this instance, the warm hues of a yellow or rose gold can complement a J Diamond.

j color oval diamond

In other words, while J diamonds can still appear very close to colorless, you may still prefer to pick out a round or fancy cut to ensure that the diamond appears as clear as possible, and a warmer toned metal for the ring setting to minimize the contrast.

Is H or J Better Diamond Color?

H, since it is two grades higher on the GIA Color Scale than J.

H color and J color diamonds exist in the same subcategory of ‘Near Colorless’ diamonds, and it takes the discerning, well-trained eye of an expert diamond grader or jeweler to really notice any significant difference between the two.

If we got you to take a look at this 1.8 Carat H-VS2 Round Diamond under the exact same lighting conditions as this 1.81 Carat J-VS2 Round Diamond, then the chances are that you wouldn’t be able to spot any significant difference between them. Perhaps the slightest tint in the J diamond, but one that won’t interfere with the beauty of your diamond ring once it’s complete.

Remember that H Diamonds afford a higher price on the market since they are the highest color grade in the ‘Near Colorless’ subcategory. Yes, they are cheaper than D, E and F Color diamonds for that same reason, but that drop in price is reflected once again in the drop from an H to a J Diamond.

So, while H is an objectively clearer color grade than J, there is no need to presume that picking the more affordable J color means that you’re picking something inferior. It can still be an excellent choice for many shoppers.

Do J Color Diamonds Sparkle?

Yes, J color diamonds will sparkle just as beautifully as other diamonds with the same cut, clarity, and carat weight.

J diamonds are very popular, since their coloration lowers their value without making a significant impact on their beauty. All of the most coveted aspects of a diamond’s appearance – its luster, sparkle, and transparency – will all be intact, provided you make a wise choice with regard to cut and clarity.

Cut is, of course, the most important factor to consider when it comes to maximizing sparkle, so don’t let these excellent color grades deter you based on light performance alone. Even a diamond much further down the color scale will still sparkle.

Can Fluorescence Improve J Color Diamonds?

In some cases, yes, mild fluorescence can effectively ‘cancel out’ a mild, yellow hue and give the impression of a clearer diamond.

However, you would probably have a much easier time focusing your search on finding a beautiful, eye clean diamond from the Near Colorless grades, since there are plenty with no obvious tint to them. Diamond fluorescence is always better kept to a minimum, so finding a diamond that is perfectly complemented by its own fluorescence is not as easy as widening your search to include any diamond with a very mild color.

J Color and Price

Obviously, the main reason any shopper starts to look a little deeper into the world of J diamonds is because of price. Making a wise investment is all about striking the balance between eye cleanliness, and affordability, so how do J diamonds fit into that picture?

Are J Color Diamonds Cheaper than G Color Diamonds?

In general, yes. Provided the two diamonds in question are comparable in terms of cut, clarity, and carat weight, then it is fair to say that G diamonds will come out significantly more expensive.

G Color Diamonds represent the very top grade in the Near Colorless subcategory, putting them just shy of the highly coveted group of diamonds spanning the D-F grades. So, while they’re in the same category as J diamonds, they fetch a premium price among buyers for their proximity to those highest grades.

And, naturally, any grade that falls above another will fetch a higher value – provided the two diamonds in question are otherwise comparable.

This is one reason why J color diamonds are a pretty popular choice among buyers – they are the most affordable way of remining within the near colorless category. Of course, purchasing from the ‘Near Colorless’ category does mean that you will always have to pay a premium, but J diamonds represent the most economical way of purchasing a diamond that does not show too much color. 

Are J Color Diamonds Worth the Price?

Yes, but only under the proviso that you have viewed the diamond in person first – and with the help of an experienced, reputable jeweler.

J diamonds can represent the perfect choice for many shoppers, but keep in mind that not all diamonds – even those that have been given the same color grade – will look exactly the same.

Consider the fact that some (typically smaller) SI2 diamonds can appear eye clean, while others will be visibly included. Provided they’re happy with the size, then an eye clean SI2 diamond can be a great choice for someone on a tighter budget. If, on the other hand, that same person knows that they will be unhappy with a below average diamond in terms of carat weight, then the SI2 diamond is unlikely to be worth the price.

The same holds for J diamonds – particularly if you’re looking to ‘go big or go home’ with your diamond since, as we’ve mentioned, larger diamonds are not so good at concealing discoloration.

Also, consider the ring itself. This Emerald Cut Cathedral Engagement Ring in Platinum leaves much of the diamond exposed – and, in particular, that pesky sideview that can so easily betray a slightly yellow diamond. Not to mention it’s a step cut. If this ring were to be paired with a J color diamond –rather than, say, a G diamond – then there is a strong possibility your eyes will pick up on a slightly yellow tint.

Alternatively, take a look at this Pear Halo Engagement Ring in Yellow Gold. Some jewelers recommend encircling slightly off-color diamonds within a halo of accent diamonds featuring a slightly lower color grade, so as to boost the contrast and make the center diamond appear whiter. Similarly, a yellow gold setting can make a yellow tint appear as a reflection of the ring, rather than an innate discoloration.

We’re not saying you should dip way down the Color Scale and trust that the right ring setting will correct discoloration, but that, with very faint yellowing, there are ways of complementing the diamond better.


J Color vs Clarity

Color and clarity both cover the negative aspects a diamond can suffer from – inclusions, blemishes, and the presence of unwanted color. Most of us can’t afford to buy a diamond that has none of these features, but working out how to get that same eye clean beauty within your price range is the trick. 

Is a J SI1 Diamond Good?

In many cases, yes – although it’s not ideal. A J SI1 diamond will typically be eye clean, meaning that no inclusions will be visible without strong magnification. With a J color, it will also appear largely colorless.

Obviously, a diamond of this quality is not seen as the ‘ideal’, but you don’t need to aim for that ideal level of quality to create a beautiful ring – nor should you. We talk a lot about the room shoppers have to explore diamond grades lower than D Color, or VVS1 – and, while a J-SI1 diamond represents the low-end of that ‘sweet spot’ between perfection and visible imperfection, it’s still a wise place to look if you’re trying to create an affordable engagement ring.

There is, however, one key point to keep in mind: the size of diamond you’re looking for.

While it’s a pretty common thing for SI1 diamonds to be eye clean, it’s much easier to find one of this quality if you’re keeping clear of larger diamonds. The same goes for any vague hint of color – it’s far less likely to be noticeable in smaller diamonds than it is in larger, though otherwise comparable, diamonds.

And, remember what we said about cut? That holds true again, with round and brilliant cuts being preferable over step cuts in the case of lower clarity/lower color diamonds. 

Still, the proof is in the viewing. Even if you can spot a couple inclusions in this 2.5 Carat J-SI1 Oval Diamond online, chances are that they will appear far less significant in real life, for instance. Alternatively, a diamond that appears flawless in photos could look totally different in person.

What we’re saying is this: don’t rule out any size of J SI1 diamond outright. Go see it for yourself, talk it through with your jeweler, and you might just hit upon something ideal – both in terms of price, and quality.

Our Summary: Is J Color Diamond Good?

Yes, provided you’re aware of the potential pitfalls of J diamonds – although, in most cases, the benefits outweigh any minor negatives.

Not only is the J color grade the most affordable option among shoppers looking to find a beautiful center stone for an engagement ring but, for that reason, it is also one of the most popular choices boasting plenty of worthwhile options to pick from.

It’s not necessary for you to squeeze every last penny out of your budget in order to move up a couple grades – not least of all because of the fact that, if you do that, you’ll likely run out of money to invest into other aspects of the diamond, such as carat weight or clarity.

The most important things to keep in mind is how the diamond’s shape and size will influence the appearance of color in your diamond. A 0.5 carat J color diamond will look a little different to a 3 carat J color diamond of the same shape, for instance, just as a Pear cut diamond may hide a slightly yellow hue much better than an Emerald cut diamond of the same size.

In other words, we can’t tell you that all J color diamonds will look equally beautiful in an engagement ring, and there will be some that aren’t worth your money.

This is why, once again, the only right way to shop for a diamond is to see it in person before you pay. Photographs and video can never truly capture the way a diamond looks when it’s in your hand, and before your own eyes.

If you’re leaning toward J diamonds, then take a look at our full collection here, then follow through by connecting with a local jeweler in your area, who might just have the perfect piece to show to you.