March 4th 2022
H Color Diamonds: Are They Worth It?
By Devin Jones
H color diamonds are in the sweet spot for value, helping smart diamond buyers to maximize the diamonds aesthetics without overpaying for qualities they can't see with the untrained eye. If you're shopping for a round diamond or are considering a fancy shaped diamond (emerald, asscher, etc.) under 3 carats, an H color diamond is a great choice.
What Is An H Color Diamond?
If you've been searching for diamonds long enough you've no doubt mastered the 4 C's of carat, cut, clarity, and color. A diamond's color grade describes how perfectly white or slightly yellow a diamond appears to the naked eye. Generally speaking, most people prefer perfectly white diamonds because they are very rare.
That said, there are also certain types of diamonds called fancy colored diamonds that are even more expensive than white diamonds and even more rare (they can be pink, yellow, green, and many other colors). Somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum is where the vast majority of diamonds fall, making them less rare and thus less desirable (pick a lane sort-of-fancy-diamonds).
H color diamonds are right in the middle of the color grades that most diamond shoppers target for diamond engagement rings or other jewelry purchases and typically appear totally white to the untrained eye. Exceptions occur when a diamond is very, very large (like 3 carats or larger) or of a fancy shape that has large flat surfaces which can make color more apparent.
H color diamonds should be a great choice for almost all diamond buyers, but if you or your significant other are very sensitive to color (if you're dating a gemologist or an artist) then you may want to steer towards the very highest color grades just to be safe.
H color diamonds should appear totally white in any color of diamond setting including platinum and gold, and can save you a ton of money compared to colorless diamonds like D color, E color, and F color diamonds. Better yet, H color diamonds tend to take a backseat to G color diamonds in popularity - most jewelers and blogs tend to recommend G color as their top choice instead.
The above diamonds range from D color to K color. Click on a diamond for more details and videos.
For most people it simply won't matter, you won't be able to notice a difference in the way an H color and a G color diamond looks at all, even if you see them side by side. They're the top two grades of Near Colorless diamonds and the differences between them are incredibly subtle.
H Color vs. I Color Diamonds
The difference between an H and an I color diamond is where some people do begin to pick up on a slight difference in color grade, even if they're not a GIA certified gemologist. For this reason, we typically advise you steer towards an H color over an I color unless you have seen the diamond in person, are buying a diamond under 2 carats for a round or under 1 carat for a fancy shape, or if you are on a very tight budget that requires you to step down to an I color. I colors can look great beyond these recommendations, but it's best to look at diamonds in person as you get closer to K color so you can get a better understanding of what you're buying.
That said, an H color diamond is going to cost you significantly more than an I color as you can see in our popular diamond price calculator tool. If you are going to opt for an I color to save money, you should also consider diamonds with faint or medium diamond fluorescence as these can appear slightly whiter than diamonds with none fluorescence. Basically, some of the blue fluorescence will help to cancel out some of the yellow in the diamond. It's not going to make your I color diamond look like a D color stone, but it can help.
Which Clarity Grade Is Best For H Color Diamonds?
At StoneAlgo we pride ourselves on using data to help shoppers make better diamond buying decisions. When we look into which clarity grades are most popular across the various clarity grades, a very obvious trend appears. Those people who are shopping for D color diamonds tend to also shop for more expensive and higher clarity grades as well (like VVS2 clarity).
People shopping for K color diamonds who are more budget conscious tend to choose SI1 or SI2 clarity. So what about H color? As you'd expect, H color diamond buyers are some of the savviest. They know how to maximize the diamond's appearance without overpaying for quality they can't see. It's no surprise that the most popular clarity grades for H color diamonds is a near perfect tie between VS1 and VS2 clarity.
VS1 clarity diamonds tend to be almost exclusively eye clean. VS2 diamonds also tend to be overwhelmingly eye clean, though sometimes you'll easily notice imperfections in the images you see of VS2 diamonds online. That's because images online are incredibly magnified and can make even the smallest imperfection look terrifyingly obvious. Don't be scared off by this, get comfortable understanding inclusion types and you can find a lot of value in VS2 diamonds. If you're still nervous, a VS1 is a safe choice and anything beyond this clarity grade is overkill.
The most popular clarity grades for H color diamonds:
- VS2 Clarity H Color Diamonds (26%)
- VS1 Clarity H Color Diamonds (26%)
- SI1 Clarity H Color Diamonds (15%)
- VVS2 Clarity H Color Diamonds (12%)
- SI2 Clarity H Color Diamonds (9%)
- VVS1 Clarity H Color Diamonds (8%)
- IF Clarity H Color Diamonds (4%)
- FL Clarity H Color Diamonds (<1%)
Is Fluorescence Good In An H Color Diamond?
We've already mentioned that faint or medium fluorescence can help a diamond look slightly whiter depending on its color grade. This holds true for H color diamonds as well. If you're shopping for an H color diamond you should consider stones with faint or medium fluorescence if you want to save a little bit of money and can make your diamond appear slightly whiter. It's really a win-win.
Fluorescence tends to affect diamond prices differently depending on how much it actually helps the appearance of the diamond. Basically, for D - F color diamonds, fluorescence is kind of pointless as it can't help to make the diamonds look much whiter. For G/H color it helps a little bit, and for J color and K color it is actually sought out by many buyers.
Faint or medium fluorescence can save you an average of 4.8% to 5.9% based a study from our diamond fluorescence guide
The only reason not to buy and H color diamond with faint or medium fluorescence in my opinion is that there are way more diamonds graded as "none fluorescence" than there are with faint and medium fluorescence combined. So, if you excluded none fluorescence from your search you'll be eliminating the vast majority of diamonds and might miss out on an amazing diamond at a great price. You don't need fluorescence, but it doesn't hurt and it can save you money if you find a great diamond that has it.
If you're searching for a great deal on your diamond, check out our diamond search engine. When you click on a diamond you'll see it's Fair Price Estimate which is like a Zillow Zestimate for your diamond, and it takes into account fluorescence as well.
Is An H Color Diamond Worth It?
As you can already tell, we're huge fans of the H color grade due to it's price and appearance. Mix in a little fluorescence and it's hard to beat the value you get from an H color diamond.
If you're on the fence between and H color diamond and an I color diamond we'd recommend spending some time at your local jeweler asking questions and looking at diamonds under different lighting conditions. If you plan to buy online, and H color diamond is a safe bet as it should look totally white in almost any size, shape, or setting color. If you're buying a very large diamond or a asscher or emerald diamond that has large, flat facets, you may be better off steering towards a G color diamond to make sure it looks totally white.
Finally, if you're going to choose a yellow or rose gold engagement ring setting you should know that even a lower color grade diamond will appear whiter in these settings and you can more confidently step down to an H from a G or an I from an H if you want to save money.
H color is a great choice for most diamond engagement rings, earrings, or necklaces and will offer show stopping beauty at a fair price.