The Diamond Pro

J Color Diamonds: When Are They Worth Buying?

By Michael Fried
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Considering a J color diamond? J color diamonds can be a great choice in certain situations, although there are several things you’ll want to be aware of before you buy a diamond in this color grade. 

These include the diamond shape, the cut quality, and even the type of setting you choose for the diamond. 

Below, we’ve explained everything you need to know about J color diamonds, from their color and general appearance to how they stack up next to better color grades, both in looks and in terms of value for money. 

What Are J Color Diamonds? 

As we’ve explained in our guide to diamond color, all diamonds receive a color grade ranging from D (nearly colorless) to Z (visibly yellow) from the GIA. 

J color diamonds fit into the “Near Colorless” range of the scale, meaning that while they may display some hints of color, they still appear primarily colorless when they’re looked at with the naked eye. 

The J color grade is actually the lowest color grade that’s considered near colorless using the GIA’s color scale. 

To a certain extent, this has created a false perception that J color diamonds have an obvious, visible color that makes them less beautiful than diamonds in better color grades. 

Because of this, a lot of consumers — often aided by jewelers wanting to sell more expensive diamonds — ignore J color diamonds in favor of G, H and I diamonds. 

The reality is that a high quality, beautifully cut J color diamond can look absolutely stunning in an engagement ring or other jewelry, all while costing significantly less than an almost identical diamond with a better color grade.

With this said, there are a few downsides to J color diamonds that you’ll need to be aware of if you’re considering a diamond with this color grade. We’ve covered these further down the page, along with more information on the best ways to buy J color diamonds. 

How J Color Diamonds Compare to Other Color Grades

As we explained above, J color diamonds are the lowest color grade that’s still considered near colorless by the GIA. 

By far the most common concern people have about J color diamonds is whether or not they’ll look colorless once they’re set in an engagement ring. Below, we’ve compared the color of a J color diamond (left) to a D color diamond (right, the highest color grade):

Both of these diamonds are from James Allen. Aside from their color, they’re identical in terms of quality — 1.00 carat, VS2, excellent cut round brilliant cut diamonds. 

As you can see, the J color diamond looks slightly more yellow than the D color diamond — a difference that’s quite subtle but easy to notice when the diamonds are compared side by side under bright light and with magnification. 

However, viewed with the naked eye away from bright lighting, it’s much harder to see the color difference between these two diamonds.

Despite this subtle difference, there’s a significant difference in price between the D color and J color diamonds. The D color diamond costs $6,000 without a setting, while the J color diamond is available for $4,060 — almost $2,000 less. 

Part of the reason the color difference between these diamonds is quite subtle is the cut. Round brilliant diamonds have a cut that’s designed for optimal brilliance. Because they reflect so much light, they’re very good at concealing differences in color when viewed from above. 

For example, take a look at the same two diamonds, this time viewed from the side rather than from above:

From this angle, the difference in color between the two diamonds is much more obvious and visible.

The difference in appearance between the J color grade and better color grade is also much more obvious with other diamond shapes, especially those that have a different facet pattern from the round brilliant cut. 

For example, compare this 1.01 carat J color emerald diamond (left) to this D color emerald diamond (right) of similar cut, clarity and carat weight:

As you can see, the difference in color is a bit more obvious with this cut. Other shapes with a similar facet pattern to the emerald cut, such as the Asscher, cushion, radiant and princess cuts, may also display the slight yellow color of a J color diamond more than the round brilliant cut.

J Color Diamond Pricing

The color of a diamond has a huge impact on its price, with diamonds in the colorless range (D, E and F grades) significantly more expensive than diamonds in the near-colorless range.

The price difference between a D color diamond and a diamond of the same cut quality, clarity and carat weight with a J color grade is significant. For example, the D and J round brilliant cut diamonds we compared above had a price difference of $1,940.

As well as being significantly cheaper than colorless diamonds, J color diamonds can also be more affordable than other diamonds in the near-colorless range.

For example, this 1.00 carat, VS1 clarity, excellent cut, J color round brilliant cut diamond sells for $3,800 from James Allen. This G color diamond, with identical cut quality, carat weight and color is priced at $5,330. That’s a $1,530 difference in price. 

There’s also a reasonably significant difference in price between the J and I color grades, even though they’re only one grade apart. For example, this 0.8 carat I color princess cut diamond is $3,216, while this J color diamond is more than 20% cheaper at $2,523. 

When is a J Color Diamond a Good Choice?

As we mentioned above, the visible difference between the J grade and better color grades is more obvious in certain cuts than others. 

It’s also more visible in certain settings and metals than others. For example, metals like rose and yellow gold will both pass some of their color into a diamond, making it look slightly more yellow than it really is, even if it has a flawless color grade. 

Because of the effect these metals have on a diamond, picking a J color diamond for a yellow or rose gold setting is a smart buy. The difference in color is almost impossible to notice due to the strong hue of the metal, giving you more money to spend on cut quality or larger carat weight. 

On the other hand, white-colored metals like platinum and white gold can make the slight yellow tint of a J color diamond more visible if you choose a diamond shape that emphasizes color. 

This usually isn’t an issue with round brilliant cut diamonds (we actually recommend the J color grade for any solitaire settings), but it can be an issue with diamonds in other shapes, as we’ve explained below. 

For Round Diamonds

For round brilliant cut diamonds, we think the J color grade can be an excellent choice. While J color diamonds do have a very slight color, the round brilliant cut’s facet pattern and its ability to reflect light means you won’t notice this color once it’s set in a solitaire ring.

J color round brilliant cut diamonds can look great in all metals, including white metals like white gold and platinum. As we covered in our guide to the round cut, you can actually drop down to a K or L color grade for yellow gold solitaire rings, all without the color looking too obvious. 

By choosing a J color diamond instead of a diamond with a better color grade, you’ll be able to set aside more of your budget for cut quality and carat weight — two factors that have a bigger impact on the diamond’s appearance.

For Other Diamond Shapes

While the J color grade can be a great value choice for round diamonds, it isn’t always a good choice for other diamond shapes.

Not all diamond shapes reflect light as well as the round brilliant cut, meaning they tend to show their color more obviously. This is particularly true for diamond shapes like the Asscher, emerald and princess cuts, all of which have a large table that makes their color quite visible. 

For more of these shapes, you’ll generally want to stick with a color grade of I or better to avoid the stone looking too yellow (for some cuts, such as the marquise cut, a grade of H or better is recommended). 

If you do choose a J color diamond in any of these cuts, we recommend avoiding white gold or platinum settings, both of which will make the slight yellow tint of the diamond more visible. 

If you’re considering a diamond in any shape other than a round brilliant cut, check our diamond shape guide for specific recommendations. Each shape-specific guide lists our recommendation for diamond color grades that look the best, all while offering the best value. 

Not sure which color and shape combination is best? Feel free to contact us to get personalized help from our diamond experts. 

J Color Diamonds and Halo/Pavé Settings

Beyond your choice of metal, the design of the setting you choose can also have an impact on how good a J color diamond looks. This isn’t an issue with a solitaire setting, although it can be something worth considering for settings that feature separate diamonds. 

If you’re considering a halo, pavé or side stone setting for your J color diamond, it’s important to check that the diamonds used in the engagement ring setting are similar in color to your chosen center stone. 

With three-stone and side stone settings, and particularly those with reasonably large side stone diamonds (that are certified), we recommend that side diamonds always either match the color of the center stone or are slightly darker. 

This can often be difficult to do with a J color diamond, meaning you may want to choose a G, H or similar near colorless diamond if you like this type of setting.

Conclusion

J color diamonds can look absolutely stunning, provided they’re the right shape. If you’re looking for a round brilliant cut diamond for your solitaire setting, picking one with the J color grade allows you to save anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the cut quality, clarity and carat weight.

This lets you allocate more of your budget towards a larger diamond or a diamond with a better quality cut — two factors that will affect its appearance more than its color. 

If you need help buying a J color diamond or aren’t sure which color grade is best for you, contact us. Our experts can help you find the highest quality diamond for your tastes and budget.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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