Quick and Easy Buying Guide

Carat weight: 1 carat = 200 milligrams = 6.5 mm diameter. Doubling weight doesn't double diameter.

Diamond clarity: FL/IF/VVS/VS = super expensive, near perfect. SI = best value if you can check a photo for obvious inclusions (defects).


Color: D-G = colorless, expensive, only if you have money to burn. H-J = best value. Can go lower in gold metal settings than white metal.

Cut: Better cut ratings let more light into a diamond, making it sparkle more. Very important property, don't skimp here.

Set a budget and minimum cut (Premium). Go J color for gold and I/H for white metals. Go searching for SI1/SI2 clarity diamonds at James Allen. Pick a diamond with small/no inclusions. Choose a ring setting and buy it risk-free (60-day returns).

Diamond Colours

Diamonds are given a colour rating based on how the diamond reflects light. Whiter diamonds are almost always considered more valuable and desirable, and are awarded a better colour grade. The grades are given as letters of the alphabet, starting at D and proceeding all the way to Z. The picture on the left shows some examples of the sort of colour range you can expect when looking at diamonds of different grades.

Diamond Colour Grade
D - F
These are essentially colourless diamonds, at the F end of things an expert can detect the colour but that's about it.
G - H
The only way you can tell that one of these diamonds is coloured is to put it right next to D grade diamond and look very carefully.
I - J
These are the 'almost-colourless' budget diamonds - best compromise between price and being colourless. Some people start to draw the line at J though.
K - Z
These are strongly coloured diamonds and (should) be a lot cheaper, but there's really no hiding the colour on these ones.

How Much Do You Pay for Colourless?

A 'D' colour grade diamond is usually just under twice as expensive as a 'J' grade diamond, so there's a big difference in price. If you're on a tight budget, a colour grade of around I is probably your best balance of colourless and price.

Watch Out For Too Good to be True Deals

In some stores you'll see amazingly cheap large carat diamonds in rings. One of the most common reasons for this is a poor colour ring of say colour K, M or even worse. Don't get tricked! Of course there are some situations when a yellowish diamond may be OK, but just make sure you're comfortable with it.

Sponsored Links


Fluorescence is said to make a diamond with a near-colourless grade (say an I grade diamond) look even whiter. The jury still appears to be out on whether this is true however, and it's probably best to decide this for yourself in person, looking at diamonds. A diamond's fluorescence can be graded from 'none' to 'very strong'. The stronger flourescence diamonds are a little cheaper.

Apparently in rare cases a diamond with strong fluorescence can appear milky or oily, which might be something to think about as a risk when buying diamonds online.

Actual Photos of Diamonds

James Allen has actual photos of almost every diamond they sell - that's more than 15,000 actual diamond photos. This gives you, the buyer, a huge advantage because you can actually have a look at an actual real photo, rather than an illustration of text description of the diamond.

The photo technology James Allen uses is great too because you can zoom in on the diamond photos, to see every last detail. I've put some example pictures below to show you what I mean. You can also have a browse of the diamond photos yourself by finding a diamond using the diamond search tool here, and then clicking on the "Real Diamond Photo" image for a closer look.

This is an I color diamond, and using the magnification tool you can see that the color is fairly whitish but not pure white. I is a good budget color for diamonds.

This is a D color diamond, and using the magnification tool you can see why - it's white as white can be. There's no hint of yellow or any other color at all. This is a really high quality diamond with respect to color.

You can browse lots of photos of diamonds to get an idea of what color rating would be acceptable for you by using the James Allen diamond search tool, available here. I've circled in red the part of the search tool where you select what color ratings you're interested in - in this example, I've selected "H" and "I" which are good value colors - see the table above for an explanation of these terms.