Which Is More Important, Diamond Clarity or Color? A Chart for Beginners

Diamond Clarity And Color Chart

If you’re buying a diamond for the first time, you’ve probably done at least some research. You know that gemologists grade diamonds based on the 4 C’s (clarity, color, cut, and carat), and that those grades determine the price of a diamond.

But which one of the 4 C’s is the most important?  If you’re buying on a budget, how do you compare diamond clarity and color? Should you prioritize finding a blemish-free diamond, or does color make more of an impact on the appearance of the diamond?

The truth is that it varies depending on the shape of the diamond (not to be confused with the cut)!

Take a look at our diamond clarity and color chart to see how shape will influence your diamond’s appearance:

diamond clarity and color chart

Diamond Clarity and Color Chart:

Diamond Shape Clarity Color
Emerald Inclusions are fairly noticeable in emerald cuts and other shapes with step cut facets. It’s recommended that you choose an emerald cut diamond with at least a VS2 clarity grade. The emerald cut was originally created to enhance the natural color of emeralds (hence the name). To avoid enhancing any yellow tint, your diamond should fall between D-H on the color scale.
Round Inclusions are usually not noticeable in round diamonds, so buyers can go a bit lower on the clarity scale. Choose a diamond with an SI1 or SI2 clarity grade or higher. These diamonds will look flawless, but will be significantly less expensive than flawless diamonds. Round diamonds reflect more light than other shapes because of the way they are cut. As a result, round diamonds are better at hiring hide low color grades. As long as you choose a round diamond with a color grade of J or above, you shouldn’t see any noticeable color.
Princess Princess-cut diamonds also hide inclusions well, but because inclusions in the corners can make the diamond more susceptible to chipping, clarity is more important than color. Stick to princess-cut diamonds with a clarity grade of SI1 or above. It’s recommended that you don’t go below an I color grade if you are buying a princess-cut diamond.
Cushion Cushion cuts have large tables, so if you go below an SI1 clarity grade, you may be able to see the inclusions. The color grade is more important than the clarity grade because cushion-cut diamonds tend to retain a lot of color. If you don’t want any hints of color, look for a cushion cut diamond with a color grade of H or above.
Radiant Radiant-cut diamonds have lots of facets and angles, which means imperfections are generally not visible. Because of this, you can go as low as SI1 or SI2 on the clarity scale, and the diamond should still appear flawless. If you are shopping for a radiant diamond, prioritize color over clarity. Look for a radiant diamond with at least an H grade on the color scale if you want your diamond to appear colorless.
Pear Clarity is not as important as color when it comes to pear-shaped diamonds. Look for a pear-shaped diamond that has a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 for the best value. Pear diamonds show more color than many other shapes, so color should be your priority. For white metals, look for a color grade of H or above, but you can drop down to a K if you choose yellow or rose gold.
Asscher Another step cut diamond, the Asscher cut, is more likely to show inclusions. Because of this, clarity should be your priority when buying an Asscher-cut diamond. It’s best to stick to a VS2 clarity grade or above. Look for Asscher-cut diamonds that fall between D-I on the color grade scale, with an I grade for the best value.
Oval Inclusions are often obscured in oval diamonds, so you can safely go down to an SI1 or SI2 on the clarity scale. It is hard to find hints of color in oval diamonds, but color should still be a priority over clarity. Look for an oval diamond that has an H color grade or above.

Keep a copy of this chart handy for the next time you shop for a diamond, and you can ensure that you get the best and most beautiful diamond for your budget!

Want more information on the shape and cut of a diamond? Check out our Diamond buying guide chart