D Color Grade Diamonds
Why buying a D color diamond is not the best choice for your engagement ring
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Why buying a D color diamond is not the best choice for your engagement ring
D color diamonds are the highest color grade on the GIA color scale, meaning they are colorless both when viewed under magnification by an expert as well as to the naked eye. However, this exceptional quality comes with a hefty price tag. While they are a great choice for those seeking the absolute best, it’s important to remember that lower color grade diamonds can also provide equally stunning beauty at a more affordable cost. For instance, a 1-carat D color diamond can start from around $7,130, while a similar diamond with a lower color grade such as G or H can cost significantly less, starting from around $5,000.
D color diamonds are usually set in platinum or white gold, as yellow gold and other jewelry settings detract from the diamond’s uncolored beauty.
D is the highest color grade, meaning it has nearly no color. Under magnification and to the naked eye, a D color diamond will appear colorless.
D color diamonds are usually set in platinum or white gold, as yellow gold and other jewelry settings detract from the diamond’s uncolored beauty. Diamonds with a D color grade are the most rare and expensive on the market, with a significant price premium over other color grades.
Thinking of buying a D color diamond? I think it would cross anybody’s mind. After all, looking at a diamond like this one from Blue Nile that is incredibly clear is enticing. While D color diamonds look absolutely stunning in any cut and setting, diamonds of this grade are exceptionally rare in nature and, as such, sell for a significant premium compared to diamonds with lower color grades.
Naturally, diamonds can vary hugely in color. While most of us associate diamonds with a clear, colorless appearance, most diamonds have at least some level of yellow tinting, ranging form a very faint yellow to a stronger, darker tint that, in some cases, is visible with the naked eye.
Before they go on sale, diamonds are evaluated and graded for quality by a trusted gemological lab, such as the GIA. As part of this grading process, diamonds are sold with a certificate listing factors such as their cut quality, clarity, carat weight and color.
We’ve covered these factors and how they relate to the quality of a diamond in our guide to the 4Cs of diamonds.
According to GIA, the worlds leading diamond certification laboratory, grades are determined as such: “A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value.”
Simply put, diamonds with a D color grade are the highest quality diamonds on the market, at least from a color perspective. They’re also by far the rarest, accounting for a small percentage of all diamonds sold worldwide.
Other excellent diamond color grades include E color and F color, both of which are also considered to be “colorless” by the GIA. Diamonds that receive a grade of G through J are “near-colorless,” while diamonds with more noticeable color may receive a grade from K through to Z.
As you’d expect, D color diamonds can look incredible. A well-cut D color diamond can have a bright, icy white appearance that looks stunningly beautiful.
However, this beauty comes at a price. Because of their rarity, D color diamonds are by far the most expensive white diamonds on the market. This means that unless money is no object, buying a diamond with a lower color grade (such as E, F, or even G or H) is generally a better idea.
We’ve explained this in more detail below, along with side-by-side visual comparisons of D color diamonds and diamonds with lower color grades.
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As we mentioned above, D color diamonds are famous for their stunning white and transparent color.
However, while D color diamonds can look absolutely incredible, you don’t necessarily need to buy a D color diamond to get a stunning engagement ring center stone. In fact, when a D color diamond is compared to an E or F color diamond, it can often be hard to tell the difference.
First, take a look at the image below. On the left side, you can see this 1.02 carat, VS2 clarity, D color oval diamond from James Allen. On the right, you can see this K color oval diamond from James Allen of the same carat weight and clarity:
The K color diamond on the right is a full seven grades lower on the GIA’s scale than the D color diamond. Side by side under magnification, it’s easy to see the color difference between the two diamonds, even for a non-expert.
As you’d expect, there’s a significant difference in price between these two diamonds, with the D color diamond priced at $5,090 and the K color diamond more than 60% cheaper at $2,000.
However, how about a D color diamond vs. an F color diamond? Take a look at the image below and see if you can spot any difference in color between the diamond on the left (D) and the one on the right (F):
Even in the oval cut, which shows color quite readily, it’s very difficult to notice any difference in color between the D color diamond and the F color one, even when they’re viewed under bright lighting and 20x magnification.
Despite looking virtually identical, the F color diamond costs $4,470 – $620 less than the D color diamond.
Now, let’s try a similar comparison with an I color diamond. Unlike the F color grade, diamonds with an I color grade aren’t considered colorless. Instead, the GIA place the I grade in the “near-colorless” range, five steps further down the scale.
For this comparison, we’ve chosen diamonds in the extremely popular round brilliant cut, which is known for hiding color well due to its numerous facets.
On the left, we’ve chosen this 1 carat, excellent cut, VS2 clarity round brilliant cut diamond in D color from James Allen. The diamond on the right is this I color round brilliant cut diamond from James Allen with identical carat weight, clarity and cut grade:
Even with a difference of five color grades, it isn’t easy to see any significant difference in color between these two diamonds. If you look carefully, you can see that the I color diamond is ever so slightly more yellow. However, the difference is very small, even under 20x magnification.
Despite looking almost identical, there’s a difference in price of slightly over $2,300 between these two diamonds. The D color diamond on the right costs $7,130, while the nearly identical I color diamond is available for $4,810.
D color diamonds are the most expensive on the market, as you can see from the numerous examples provided above.
For a round brilliant cut diamond, you’ll generally need to pay about 10 to 15% more for a D color diamond than you would for a diamond of the same cut, clarity and carat weight with a color grade of G, the highest grade in the near-colorless.
As you move from a G color grade further down the near-colorless range, diamonds quickly become more affordable. For example, the 1 carat, excellent cut, VS2 clarity, I color diamond from James Allen we used for the comparison above is around 30% cheaper than the equivalent D color diamond.
In short, yes, you get the very best in color when you buy a D color diamond. However, there’s quite a significant diamond cost involved in this, all for a feature that doesn’t have a huge impact on how the diamond actually looks.
Remember, there’s much more to just color when it comes to choosing a diamond. A diamond with a D color grade that’s not very well cut will look far less beautiful than a stone with a lower color grade (for example, a G or H color diamond) that has a higher cut quality.
As we mentioned in our guide to diamond clarity chart, it’s best to think of your total investment in a diamond ring as a pie. Each feature of the diamond, from color to clarity, cut quality and carat weight, is a slice of the pie.
The more you spend on any one slice of the pie, the less you have to spend on others, unless you have an unlimited budget.
The two factors, or slices, that will have the biggest impact on your diamond’s appearance are the diamond cut and its carat weight. A better cut means more brilliance and fire; a greater carat weight will translate into a larger, more impressive diamond.
Both of these factors have much more of an impact on a diamond’s appearance than a perfect color grade.
The answer to this question depends on how much you’re willing to spend on an engagement ring.
If money is truly no object and you have an extremely high budget, buying a D color diamond can make sense. The D color grade is the best of the best, and if you have an eye for quality and want something truly exceptional and rare, a D color diamond certainly fits the bill.
However, there are far more situations in which buying a D color diamond simply isn’t a smart move.
First, if you plan to set the diamond in a yellow or rose gold engagement ring, buying a D color diamond is pointless. Once the diamond is set in the ring, the yellow or pink tone of the metal will make the diamond look slightly colored anyway.
Second, if you don’t have an unlimited budget, buying a D color diamond means you’ll be able to spend less on the factors that actually matter the most, such as the diamond’s cut and carat weight.
Essentially, you’re paying more for a feature you can’t see with the naked eye, all while giving yourself less to spend on features you’ll be able to see and appreciate.
To help you get the best deal on a diamond, we’ve shared our recommendations for diamond color grades in different cuts.
Pro Tip: From a value for money perspective, we recommend the G, H and I color grades for Asscher, emerald and princess cut diamonds. For all other shapes, diamonds in the F, G and H range typically offer the best combination of color and value for money.
D color is the highest color grade for a diamond. When a diamond is graded D for color, it has nearly no trace of color whatsoever, even when viewed under precise conditions by trained professionals.
D color diamonds are the highest quality, the most rare, and thus the most expensive color grade. Diamonds with a D color grade always command a significant premium in price.
D color diamonds are as good as it gets for colorless diamonds, completely colorless and transparent, even if viewed under intense magnification. D is the highest color grade a diamond can receive, and thus D color diamonds are rare and expensive.
Only a small percentage of all diamonds sold worldwide have a D grade for color. It’s estimated that D color diamonds make up less than 1% of all diamonds sold for engagement rings.
Purely in terms of quality, D is the best color grade for a diamond. However, in terms of value, the best color grade to go for is in the range of G to J, where you can find a diamond that still appears colorless for a much lower price.
Well cut D color diamonds are undeniably gorgeous. They have a stunning icy white color that’s extremely impressive, particularly when the diamond is very well cut and shows lots of brilliance and fire.
However, buying a diamond is all about balancing each of the four Cs. While a D color diamond can look amazing, we don’t recommend buying a diamond with this color grade unless you have a very high budget that lets you to do so without compromising on cut, clarity and carat weight.
We also don’t recommend the D color grade if you want a yellow or rose gold setting, as these metals will cause any diamond to look slightly darker than its true color.
If you need help choosing a diamond, feel free to contact us. Our experts can help you choose a diamond that matches your tastes and budget, whether you’re looking for the best of the best or want to shop practically for something that offers optimal value for money.
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