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Summary
What’s the best color for a white diamond? Many novice diamond buyers have a tough time finding ideal color while staying within their budget. Learn about E color and whether this diamond color grade might be the right choice for you.
Reading time: 5 min
e color emerald cut engagement ring

Set in a halo ring, this E color emerald-cut diamond appears bright white. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

No matter what color grade you choose, you’ll want to make sure your white diamond stays white in its setting.

If you’re shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, make sure the jeweler shows you the diamond in its intended setting under a daylight-equivalent light bulb with an ultraviolet component. (That’s the standard lighting for diamond color grading, so you’ll see what the gem grader saw). Also, have the jeweler show you the stone from various angles.

If you’re buying a diamond online, we recommend an online retailer such as James Allen. They have magnified videos for each diamond they sell, which will give you a good idea of the diamond’s color and let you view it in different settings.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like working with experts to create your perfect ring. A custom jeweler like CustomMade can guide you to the perfect diamond and set it in a ring made just for you.

What is an E Color Diamond?

Every diamond with a grading report receives a color grade. White diamonds with the least color get a grade of D, the highest color grade, while stones with slight yellow or brown tints get letter grades further down the alphabet. (This system was actually created to avoid confusion with early grading systems that used A, B, and C grades).

So, an E color diamond has the second-whitest color on the standard grading scale and will appear bright white without a hint of color. In fact, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) considers D, E, and F grade diamonds “colorless” and G, H, I, and J grade diamonds “near colorless.”

One of these James Allen diamonds has a color grade of E, and the other has an H. Can you tell which is which? Click to find out which ring has the E color diamond and which has the H.

When a diamond has enough yellow or brown (or if it has any other tint at all), it’s graded as a fancy color diamond, not a white diamond. For this article, we’ll focus exclusively on white diamonds.

Color Grade and Visible Color

Of course, white diamonds with high color grades come with high prices, too. That’s because these rare colorless diamonds are in high demand.

However, there’s a secret that the diamond industry doesn’t want you to know. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between adjacent color grades. (Don’t believe it? Try our diamond color quiz!)

In gemological laboratories, it takes highly trained professionals, bright light, and careful consideration to grade a diamond for color. And they don’t even grade the face-up color. They look at the diamond from the side and compare it to a master set.

So, when you’re looking at that diamond set in an engagement ring, it’s not possible to tell its color grade. Take a look at these rings and try to guess each center diamond’s color.

Can you guess the color grades for these James Allen diamonds?

Answer

The slides show eight diamonds with color grades from D through K, set in rings with different metal colors. These diamonds are actually arranged in order, from the least to most color: 1-D, 2-E, 3-F, 4-G, 5-H, 6-I, 7-J, 8-K.  Metal colors and settings make a big difference in a diamond’s appearance.

Colorless vs Near-Colorless Diamond Prices

Now, let’s compare the prices of diamonds with different color grades. To keep it simple, we’ll compare prices of 1-ct, excellent-cut rounds with VS2 clarity 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, diamond color can have a big impact on price. When choosing between D, E, and F color, it’s clear that you’ll save some money by avoiding the top grade. You can also opt for a G or H color diamond without losing any eye-visible quality.

Should I Buy a High-Color Diamond?

In most cases, it’s tough to see any color in a diamond. In a white gold or platinum setting, even an H color diamond will appear white. For yellow or rose gold settings, an I, J, or even K color might appear white. In fact, a diamond with D, E, or F color will appear to have more color in a yellow or rose gold setting.

Take a look at these two diamonds. They’re set in rings with the same style but different metal colors. Which diamond has the lower color grade?

Can you guess which of these James Allen diamonds has the lowest color grade?

Answer

Even though the diamond set in yellow gold appears to have more color, they both have E color.

So, when is it best to choose an E color diamond? In general, if you’re looking for a large size or a fancy shape, keep your color options open. Cut quality is the most important factor in diamond quality, and diamonds can be difficult to find in certain shapes and large sizes.

2.5ct pear e color diamond

Although James Allen has over 250,000 diamonds, if you’re looking for a pear shape over 2.5 cts, your choices shrink to only a few hundred stones.

Choosing a Diamond Color Grade

We recommend picking the lowest color grade that will still appear white in the setting. Of course, this depends on your choice of setting and metal color. Here are our recommendations for round diamonds:

  • For a solitaire setting, an H color diamond will still look bright white in white gold or platinum. For a yellow or rose gold setting, you can drop to an I or J color. If you like the soft white look, a J color can look good in white gold or platinum, and you can go down to K, L, or even M in yellow gold or rose gold.
  • For settings with side stones or halos, make sure that the center diamond appears as white or whiter than the accents. Consult the ring description carefully — text, photos, and videos —
    and check the accent colors. These will often be G/H in color, but some settings have accents with higher color grades.

The first ring in this slideshow has an E color center diamond, while the second has a J. Against the F/G color diamonds in the halo, the J color has a slight tint.