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White gold is the most popular metal for engagement rings, but how do you choose a diamond to go with it? Picking a white diamond that will still appear white when set in the ring without busting your budget can be tricky. Read our recommendations for the best diamond color choices for a white gold engagement ring. [Reading time: 7 min]
vintage style white gold engagement ring

Surrounded by sparkling diamond accents, this G color diamond center stone is the perfect match for its white gold ring. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

No matter what color grade you choose, it’s important to take a close look at the diamond you’re buying. We recommend shopping at James Allen or Blue Nile for just this reason. Their magnified videos will give you a good idea of the diamond’s color, and their in-house experts can help you choose one that will look great.

If you prefer a more personal experience, working with a custom jeweler like CustomMade will get you the perfect diamond in a ring designed just for you.

What Does a Diamond Color Grade Mean?

Most diamonds come with a grading report from a gemological lab. One of the grading criteria is color, which for white diamonds really means how colorless the stone is. The diamonds with the least color receive the highest grade, “D.” Those with slightly more yellow or brown receive grades further down the alphabet. Intense yellow or brown diamonds and any other color are considered “fancy colors,” but for this article we’ll focus on white diamonds.

Diamonds with a grade of D, E, or F are considered “colorless,” while G, H, I, or J are “near colorless.” Diamonds with a grade of K, L, or M have a “faint” color. Let’s talk a little about these grade ranges and how they look in white gold.

G color cushion cut diamond

Even though this is a “near colorless” G color diamond, it looks perfectly colorless in this halo setting. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Colorless Diamonds: D, E, and F

As you can imagine, colorless diamonds will appear perfectly white in a white gold setting. Even though E and F diamonds have slightly more color than the top “D” color diamonds, this difference is nearly imperceptible.

Let’s take a look at some colorless diamonds in white gold rings.

These white gold engagement rings from James Allen all have F color diamonds, which will always look perfectly colorless.

Near Colorless Diamonds: G, H, I, and J

For the most part, near colorless diamonds will also appear white in a white gold setting. Unless you’re directly comparing it to a colorless D or E diamond, you’re unlikely to see the difference.

In fact, it takes highly trained gemologists, bright lighting conditions, and close comparison with a master set to determine a diamond color grade. And they don’t even grade the color face up — they look at the diamond from the side! This makes diamond color impossible to tell from its face. Try it for yourself in our impossible diamond color quiz.

Let’s look at a few pictures. Compare the rings in this slideshow. For each ring style, one of the center diamonds is D color and the other is H. Can you tell which is which?

These white gold rings from James Allen look great whether you have a D color diamond or an H color.

Answers

1 H,  2 D, 3 H, 4 D, 5 D, 6 H

While it can be difficult to distinguish between H and D color diamonds, you might be able to see a slight color in the H color diamonds in the slideshow.

Diamond Prices and Color Grades

Now, let’s look at how a diamond’s color grade impacts its price. To keep it simple, we’ll compare prices of 1-ct, excellent cut round diamonds with a VS2 clarity grade and no fluorescence.

2020 Average Diamond Prices by Color Grade, 1ct Excellent Cut VS2

These 2020 averages are calculated from diamonds at James Allen.

As you can see, choosing an H color over a D color diamond will save you, on average, over $2,000 for a 1-ct, VS2, excellent cut diamond. So, even if you can see a slight difference between these color grades, is it worth the difference in price?

Diamond prices drop rapidly for lower color grades as well. Will an I or J look OK? How about a K color diamond?

Recommended Diamond Color for White Gold

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a color grade for a white gold ring. We can narrow it down to four factors: ring setting type, diamond shape, preference, and price.

Ring Settings and Diamond Color

First and foremost, consider the type of ring you’re choosing. Are you opting for a solitaire, halo, or side stone ring?

For solitaire rings, you’ll have more leeway to choose a lower color grade.

I diamond color for white gold

In this sculptural flower ring, the diamond accents are far from the I color center stone, so the center diamond still appears very white. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

On the other hand, you’ll want to check the details on your halo or side stone rings. A low-color diamond with high-color side stones isn’t a great look. Most rings have diamond accents with G/H color, but some will have H/I or F/G color. You’ll want a center stone to appear as white or whiter than the accents, so don’t pick anything lower than the lowest side stone grade.

I color diamond in white gold halo ring

This I color diamond shows a slight tint in its halo setting. Check it out at James Allen.

In white gold or platinum, you probably won’t want to go lower than a J color for a round diamond.

k color diamond in white gold solitaire ring

Notice the slight tint in this K color diamond. Check out this ring at the James Allen site.

Diamond Shape and Color

Different diamond shapes might show more or less color. The ever-popular round diamond shows the least color, which makes lower color grades more appealing options.

However, in other diamond shapes, the color can concentrate in the ends or corners, which makes low-color diamonds unattractive.

Princess, emerald, and asscher-cut diamonds don’t show too much color. Although J is a little low, an I color diamond will still look great.

In other diamond shapes, the color can concentrate in certain areas, making the diamond appear two-toned: white and off-white. To avoid this, try an H color or better.

I color pear shape diamond

Notice how the color is concentrated at both the tip and the opposite rounded end of this I color pear-shaped diamond. Take a look at the video on the James Allen site.

Color Preference

Of course, these recommendations all go down the drain if you prefer something different. Most people won’t notice the soft white of a near-colorless diamond. However, some are particular about getting a bright white stone.

On the other hand, some like the off-white vintage look of faint diamonds or even diamonds below an “M” on the color scale.

m color diamond in white gold

This M color diamond shows some color, but its large size is a good tradeoff for the cost. Check out this ring on the James Allen site.

In general, though, if you’re buying for someone else or if you’re not sure what you want, you’ll be happiest with a near-colorless diamond.

Price

Why do we recommend these color grades? Simply put, they offer the best tradeoff between colorless appearance and price. That means that you can put your money toward a higher carat weight, or even save a little for the honeymoon.

Choosing the lowest color grade that still appears white keeps you from paying for something that you’ll never even see. In other words, if you can’t tell the difference between a G and an I, why pay more for it?

Choosing a Jeweler

Ultimately, the best white diamond color is the one you like best. For most, that means going for the one that will look great while keeping some money in your pocket.

If you’re shopping online, remember to check the diamond you’re buying for any noticeable color. James Allen and Blue Nile offer magnified video of all of their diamonds, making it easy to pick one that will look great.

Alternatively, working with a custom jeweler like CustomMade will ensure that there are no surprises when you get your ring. They can help you find the ideal diamond within your budget and make sure it’ll look great in your ring.

Money-Saving Tip: 25% Off at the James Allen Summer Sale until July 13See Sale Items