The Diamond Pro

Q&A: Color vs. Clarity Tradeoffs for under $5000

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us.
Personal information is always removed. Learn from these posts, or contact us yourself to get free personalized help.

Hi Ira, Thank you very much for create such a site, it really helps me get a better idea for the quality of diamond I should be aiming for. I’m looking for an engagement ring and looking to pay around $5000 or less if possible.

I had a list of “must haves” for the diamond before reading through some of your articles. It would need to be at least 1 carat, G, VS2, excellent cut. After reading some of your posts, I’m thinking that I could get a eye-clean,H, VS1, very good-excellent cut and still end up a happy customer.

Something along the lines of

or Blue Nile LD01290816

I was contemplating on going for a SI1 as long as its eye clean, but my girlfriend is a bit of a diamond fanatic and is usually quite perceptive on flaws and brightness of the diamonds. I am wondering if you could recommend for me several diamonds without compromising on the clarity and colour. Thank you!

Thanks for the kind words about the site.  Regarding your two picks – I don’t like the one from Blue Nile.  It has strong blue fluorescence.  That’s why the price is relatively cheap.

I also think you could do better than the stone you chose on James Allen.  It has a Very Good cut on the GIA cert.  You should try to find a stone with an Excellent cut grade.

Have a look at these: – H VS2 0.96ct.  Excellent GIA Cut grade.  Small black inclusions on the table, but they should be clean to the naked eye. – H VS2 1.01ct. Excellent GIA Cut grade.  Pic looks clean.

There might be more, but many of James Allen’s stones in this range don’t have cert scans available.   Normally, I can check on GIA’s report check feature, but it’s down now.  So I’ll try to take another look tomorrow.

Another issue to think about – I noticed that you sent me a link to Blue Nile Canada.  Where in Canada do you live?  Is it near the border with the USA?  I ask, because I know James Allen will gladly ship your ring to a fedex facility for pickup.  So you could have the ring shipped to a border town in the USA, and you could drive in and pick it up tax free.

Thanks for the quick response Ira.

I like the look of the second one and just for sake of comparison and discussion, I checked to see a matching diamond and came upon this one

Looking at the picture, there is a bit of cloudiness around the lower left on the table, apart from that, visually it looks clean as well, the difference between the two is this diamond is G, SI1 vs H, VS2.  Between the two, is there a preference? Understanding that any colour G and above translates to features that I probably would not be able to notice.

I live in Ontario and is about a 4 hour drive to the US border and I did not think about the option to do a pick up in USA.  It would definitely be an option especially if the fedex facility is open during the weekend.

That stone looks very nice.  I didn’t bother looking for any SI1s because I gathered from your original email that you were only interested in VSs.

Actually, the opposite of what you said is true (in terms of color and clarity).  There’s always an incremental benefit to upgrading color – the only claim I make is that it’s not necessary to pay for that incremental benefit because it’s slight, and you can achieve “whiteness” with an H or an I color.  But if you put an I color next to a D color, you will 100% notice a difference.  They I color looks white, but the D color looks REALLY white.

This is opposed to clarity. Once a stone is clean to the naked eye, it can’t get any cleaner.  So to your naked eye, an eye-clean SI1 will look exactly the same as a flawless diamond.  Upgrades in clarity (when you’re only discussing eye-clean stones) offer you NO visual benefit.

So having said that, I think G SI1 is definitely a smarter choice than an H VS2, as long as the stone is eye clean.

The only thing I would say is you should ask JA to visually check this stone to make sure there are no noticeable clouds.  It’s hard to tell from the picture because what looks like cloudiness is most likely just a smudge on the stone or lens.

If you’d like, I’d be happy to look through the inventory again, but focusing on eye-clean SI1s.


Did you ever get my response to your last email?

Either way, I remembered there’s something else I wanted to tell you.  I had a person I helped out who was from Toronto.  She picked up her ring with her fiance at the following fedex location.  It was both the closest she could find and it was also open on Sunday for pickup.

1779 Walden Ave. suite 100
Cheektowaga NY, 14225
ph# 716 893 0256
E: [email protected]

I’d love to hear an update from you!

Sorry for the slow response, I wasn’t able to get to a computer yesterday.  Thanks for the advice on the colour, I asked JA to check on the diamond for any naked eye visible clouding and they report that it is “beautiful, bright and completely eye-clean from all angles” . I think I will search for some more G/SI1 gems and push my luck with a G/SI2 and see if there is a less expensive alternative to this one but this looks like a good contender at the moment. Once its visually clear, I might as well go for a whiter white.  I’ll update back in a couple days.

You know what?  I just realized that you can’t have JA ship the ring to that address in Buffalo, because then you’ll have to pay NY sales tax!  I forgot that the customer who I had go to Buffalo to pick up the ring was a brokering customer, not a customer of JA’s.

No worries,  I think I’ll end up getting it shipped but that’s a moot point at the moment because the G/SI1 diamond is gone

I have another 2 that I’m wondering if I can have your thoughts on

Both are very close in price and from the website pics, they look eye clean.  Just wondering what your thoughts are between them.

I checked for you, and the cut grade on the F is “VG” and not “EX”.  So my vote is with the G SI1.  Here’s their two pics blown up for you:

To me, they both definitely look eye clean.

If you want to see the cert details (the scan isn’t available on JA), use the cert # 17263603 and weight 1.01 on this site to get it:

Thanks Ira!  It definitely helps.  the F is out for me as well, can I trouble you for one more opinion, its down to the G SI1 and this E SI1.

I noticed that the major mark on this one is the black crystal in the upper left of the table.  Just wondering know of any technical reasons why the G would be preferred over the E in this case.

And thank you for your time and hopefully I haven’t been too much of a bother.

Don’t touch that E with a 10 foot poll!  That black inclusion is 100% visible to the naked eye.

Btw, which ring were you considering to mount this in?

I think its going to be a simple solitaire 6 prong without any side diamonds.  Funny, if there anything I’m confident on for the ring it would be the band…

It’s going to look great.  Are you going to go with plat or white gold?

white gold.

I would say go for it before someone snaps up this GSI1 like they did the other one!

lol, yea, I just did that actually.  I truly appreciate all the help that you’ve provided!


Top Recommended Vendors
James Allen James AllenJames Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online. James Allen is currently running a 25% sale on all engagement rings! This a great chance to save on Valentine’s Day purchases.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
Arrow down
Arrow up

Blue Nile Blue NileBlue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Blue Nile have generously offered our readers an exclusive one-time use coupon. (Click Here to save $100 off orders of $1000 or more)
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
Arrow down
Arrow up

Still afraid of getting ripped off?

Before you buy a diamond, get personal buying advice from industry veterans. We'll help you get the best diamond for the money.

Ask your diamond purchase question here

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

DISCLAIMER: We don't use your email for marketing. Period.

Click for Diamond Purchase Advice 100% Free

Ask your diamond purchase question here

We are a team of diamond experts who will teach you to identify scams and avoid spending money on features you can't see. Tell us as much information as possible to help us help you (ie, budget, preferences, etc)

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


DISCLAIMER: We don't use your email for marketing. Period.

Please enter your email address to receive your personal code:

Here is your coupon code: GFDSF3GF