Updated November 11, 2022

Why H Diamond Color is Good Enough for the Best Value

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Not sure what the best color for your diamond engagement ring is? We recommend H as a safe bet.

H is the most popular color choice in the American diamond market. It offers a good balance of price while still providing the icy-white nature that a lot of people prefer in their diamonds.

On the D-K diamond color scale, H is the tipping point between colorless diamonds and diamonds with a slightly noticeable yellow tint. Most people can't really see the difference - but there is a large price jump between each color grade.

In this article, we'll show you why H diamonds offer the best value for your money, using real examples from online diamond retailer James Allen.

Bottom Line: H color diamonds offer excellent value in terms of beauty and price. H color diamonds appear icy-white, but cost as much as 10% less than colorless diamonds. The untrained eye will not be able to see any yellow tones.

What are H diamonds?

Diamonds come in a range of colors, from perfectly white to light yellow/brown. They're graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light color).

And the sweet spot of the diamond color grade scale? H color diamonds.

H diamonds fall in the near colorless range. To the average person, they look almost totally white. Jewelers may see a slight yellow tint, but it's hardly visible to the casual observer.

That's why an H color diamond is the best bang for your buck. Without the premium price tag, you get a stone that looks similar to a D diamond. They're the best balance between beauty and budget.

Still not convinced that an H diamond can look similar to a D diamond? Check out this video comparing H vs. D diamonds in different lighting conditions. You can barely tell which one is which.

The Color Grading Scale

Diamond Color Scale
Diamond Color Scale © CreditDonkey

Aside from the near colorless range, GIA's color scale is divided into 4 other subcategories. Here are the 5 groupings:

  • D, E, F (Colorless): These diamonds are colorless and super rare. They also come at a much higher price. If you enjoy very icy white diamonds, you may not mind paying the premium.

  • G, H, I, J (Near Colorless): A slight undertone of yellow can be detected by an expert gemologist. However, the slight tint in G and H diamonds is virtually undetected by the average person. At I and J, the tint becomes a bit more apparent when compared to a diamond of higher color grade. But they offer great value, especially if you prefer a warmer look to your jewelry. For this color grouping, check out our guides for G,H, I and J.

  • K, L, M (Faint): A yellow color is more noticeable at this point, even without having to compare with a higher color grade diamond. Usually, online retailers don't sell diamonds for engagement rings less than a K.

  • N-R (Very Light): Very noticeable yellow tint and looks like a poor quality diamond, even to an untrained eye.

  • S-Z (Light): Color at this range can start to have a brown tint. Needless to say, there is very little demand for these.

H is somewhere in the middle of the "near colorless" range, but that doesn't mean you'll see the slight yellow tint. It is VERY difficult for the human eye to tell color just a couple of grades apart. To illustrate, take a look at the examples below.

H Diamond Price Comparisons

The difference in color is tiny, but the difference in price is huge as you move up and down the color grading. D, E, and F diamonds are essentially colorless, and because of their rarity, they're priced at a premium. H diamonds look practically colorless, but the drop in price is significant.

Looking at our F, H, J trio of diamonds above, here are the price differences with all else being equal (1-carat, excellent cut, VS2 clarity).

Screenshot from James Allen Website

The H-colored diamond is almost $1,000 less than the F-colored diamond. That extra grand might not be worth it just to have it labeled "colorless". Going for J will drop the price significantly, but we don't recommend it for white gold/platinum bands. You just might see the slight yellow tint.

Tip: The setting also plays a big role in how white the diamond appears. A diamond will naturally pick up the color of its surroundings, so an H diamond set in a yellow gold or rose gold band will take on a warmer tint. If you're planning on purchasing a yellow or rose gold band, there is no need to go for an H-colored diamond, as it'll appear more yellow anyway. A J (or even K) would match the setting nicely and could look gorgeous.

Where is the Best Place to Buy an H Diamond Engagement Ring?

If you're considering an H-diamond engagement ring, you must check out reputable online retailers like Blue Nile and James Allen.

ForDiamond Retailer
Best Place to Buy OnlineJames Allen
CutWhiteflash
SelectionBlue Nile

What Do H Colored Diamonds Look Like?

For simplicity's sake, we will be looking at diamonds graded with a color of F (colorless), H, and J (bottom of near-colorless) for these comparisons. All are 1-carat with an excellent cut.

Can you tell which is which?

Screenshot from James Allen Website

Here's the answer-from left to right: F Diamond, H Diamond, J Diamond

I don't know about you, but to me, they are not very easily distinguishable from each other in the face-up view, even under extreme magnification.

You can probably see more clearly in their respective side views:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

But don't worry, because when mounted on a ring, people will only be admiring it face-up. And remember - color doesn't determine how sparkly and shiny the ring is. The cut of the diamond (proportion, symmetry, and polish) will make the biggest impact on how bright, and therefore "white," the diamond appears.

Tip: If you're still not sure what the color of your diamond will look like mounted on a ring, view custom settings on James Allen. You can play around with different metal and diamond options until you find your favorite. They'll provide an HD 360-degree video for each design.

An ideal cut diamond will reflect light in such a way that it masks slight color. A diamond that is lower in color grade but is well-cut will appear more brilliant than a poorly cut, colorless diamond. So we always recommend putting your money towards a better cut than a higher color grade.

Just in case you're thinking "I don't believe you! The H diamond in the middle looks obviously more yellow than the F," here's a fun little test:

There are 2 H diamonds hidden in this grid. The rest of the diamonds represent color grades D-K (colorless to faint yellow). Can you spot the colorless ones and can you pick out the two H diamonds?

Screenshot from James Allen Website

Answer at the end of the article.

Or take a look at diamonds yourself with James Allen' 360° video.

What Do H Diamonds Look Like Mounted on Ring?

So what does an H diamond look like mounted on a ring?

Let's compare an H diamond to an F (colorless), which is 2 grades up:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

Disregarding the yellow spots due to external factors, the H diamond (left) looks a little warmer compared to the F diamond. You won't be able to tell that the H is "near colorless" unless they're placed side by side. It'll appear white face-up and will look completely fine in any metal color.

Now, let's compare the same H diamond to a J (very bottom of the near-colorless range), which is 2 grades down:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

The J colored diamond (right) is noticeably more yellow when set on a white gold ring.

This is why H-colored diamonds provide a good balance-only 2 grades down from colorless (which is difficult for the human eye to detect) and 2 grades up from a yellow tint that may be more easily noticed.

Tip: Our examples are of round diamonds, but the diamond shape you choose will also affect how much color is revealed. Brilliant cuts (like round) do a great job of reflecting light and masking slight color, while step cuts (like emerald and asscher) are known for their depths and therefore show color more easily. This is also why we love H, because it's a safe choice for just about all shapes.

How To Make H Diamonds Appear Whiter

Chances are, your H diamond looks white as it is. But we can't avoid a fleck of yellow tint here and there.

Luckily, you can always try these tricks to make your H diamond appear whiter:

  • Always go for ideal cut
    The key to a sparkly stone is the right cut grade, so you should never compromise on this. An ideal cut stone will look so sparkly that it hides most flaws in the other C's. As long as you choose ideal cut, you can always pick a lower color or clarity stone.

  • Choose a round cut
    Round diamonds are the sparkliest of all diamond shapes. Having the most intense sparkle means that they do the best job at hiding color. If you want a timeless, white, and brilliant ring, go for round.

  • Pick a white gold or platinum band
    Diamonds reflect the color of their metal. With a white gold or platinum band, your H color diamond may take after some of the metal's whiteness.

  • Try diamonds with fluorescence
    Fluorescence doesn't just make your diamond cheaper. It also makes it look whiter, especially in sunlight. If you can find fluorescent H diamonds in your jeweler, they can give you an unmatched deal.

    Yes, you read that right: fluorescence can be good at times. This guide can help you better see how fluorescence affects H diamonds.

    Final Tips for H Colored Diamonds

    Whatever metal or diamond spec you choose, you can hardly go wrong with an H color diamond. Just follow the rule of thumb: pick an ideal cut to make sure your ring is white and sparkly.

    Even for step cuts (emerald and asscher), H color diamonds still look white. And if you're choosing a yellow or rose gold band, you can even drop to K color diamonds. Your stone will take on the metal's yellow tint, anyway.

    If you still have doubts, it might be best to buy your ring in-store to see it personally first. Inspect it in different lighting conditions to make sure the sparkle is consistent.

    But as long as you're buying from a reputable retailer, you shouldn't have problems buying an H diamond online.

    Bottom Line

    H diamonds offer great value in terms of its price and beauty. It's a safe choice if you're concerned about a yellow tint or if you're purchasing from a site without photos. We hate to make guarantees, but we're pretty sure that the average person won't be able to detect a hint of color.

    And oh yes, the answer to the little game:

    First row: K-F-D
    Second row: H-G-J
    Bottom row: E-H-I

    Are you surprised? How many did you get right?

Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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