F Color Grade Diamonds
Are F color grade diamonds worth the money or overpriced?
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Are F color grade diamonds worth the money or overpriced?
F color diamonds are the third and last color grade that is considered ‘colorless’ on the GIA diamond color scale. Many people feel that an F color diamond is a good option because it’s still in the colorless range and is cheaper than D or E color diamonds. However, most people can not tell the difference between a G, H or even I colored diamond compared to an F color once they are set in an engagement ring. To put it in perspective, a 1-carat F color diamond might begin at roughly $6,000. Yet, venturing slightly down the color scale to an H grade could offer similar allure for a starting price closer to $5,000.
Balancing aesthetics with budget is key. In this article we cover everything you need to know about F color diamonds and whether you should purchase one for your engagement ring.
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As we mentioned above, all diamonds are graded for color. GIA, the worlds leading diamond certification laboratory, grades as such: “A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value.”
Within this scale, different grades are grouped together. For example, D, E and F diamonds are all part of the “colorless” range of the scale, while G, H, I and J color diamonds are categorized as “near-colorless” diamond color grades.
Although marketers and salespeople often stress the importance of buying a diamond that has flawless color, the reality is that there’s very little visible difference between the D, E and F color grades.
In most cases, only an expert gemologist can tell the difference between two different diamonds in these grades, usually with the help of bright laboratory lighting and strong magnification from a jeweler’s loupe.
To the naked eye and under magnification, an F colored diamond will appear almost completely colorless. Diamonds with this color grade look colorless in any metal, including white metals like platinum and white gold.
Just like with the other quality factors that make up the 4 Cs of diamonds, the excellent color of an F color diamond comes at a price. Although F color diamonds are usually less expensive than D and E color diamonds, they’re quite a lot more expensive than G, H, I and J color diamonds.
As we mentioned in our guide to D color diamonds, there’s no need to buy a diamond that has a very high color grade for it to look colorless once it’s in its setting.
To give you an understanding of how an F color diamond looks in relation to other color grades, we’ve compared a variety of different F color diamonds to diamonds with both higher and lower color grades below.
Let’s start by comparing an F color diamond to a diamond with a higher color grade. Take a look at the two diamonds below. Can you figure out which of the diamonds is the F color and which is the D color? Go ahead and guess.
Using these pictures, which were taken in bright lighting and under 20x magnification, can you see any difference in color between the F color diamond and the D color one?
Even when they’re compared from the side, the visual differences between the F color diamond and the D color one are almost impossible to see:
Both of these diamonds are in the colorless range of the color scale, albeit with a difference of two grades between them. Still, there’s a difference in price of $790 between them, with the F color diamond priced at $5,280 and the D color diamond at $6,070.
Given how tiny the difference in color between these two diamonds is even with bright lighting and magnification, do you think you (or anyone else, for that matter) could tell them apart in a real life setting?
Now, let’s compare an F color diamond to a diamond with a lower color grade. On the left is the same F color diamond as above. On the right is this H color diamond from James Allen of the exact same clarity, cut quality and carat weight:
Just like in the example above, it’s very difficult to see any difference in color between these two diamonds. Only when the diamonds are viewed from the side, which reduces any concealment of the color due to light reflection, is it possible to see a very slight difference in color:
Despite looking almost identical even with bright lighting and magnification, there’s a noticeable difference in price between these two diamonds.
The F color diamond, as mentioned above, is available for $5,280. The H color diamond, on the other hand, is $4,420, providing a total saving of $860, all for an almost identical appearance.
Now, let’s look at an F color diamond compared to an H color diamond in a different cut. Below, we’ve compared this 1 carat, VS1 clarity, F color oval cut diamond from James Allen (left) to this H color diamond from James Allen (right) of the same clarity and carat weight:
As you can see, in this cut, the difference in color between the two diamonds is much easier to see. While both diamonds still look excellent (and indeed, the H color diamond would be a fine choice for most settings), the F color diamond is visibly clearer and more colorless.
With this said, take away the bright lighting and magnification and spotting the color difference even between these two diamonds becomes much more difficult.
As colorless diamonds, F color diamonds are quite expensive on a per carat basis. While you won’t need to spend quite as much for an F color diamond as you would for a D color diamond, the difference in pricing isn’t as big as you’d think for a diamond without flawless clarity.
For example, if you look at the Rapaport diamond price list (the prices are changing, but let’s use the example they have in the video), you can see that the average price for a VS1, D color diamond is 59 (in 100s for 0.70ct to 0.89ct diamonds). For a diamond of the same clarity in an F color grade, it’s 52, making the F color grade about 12% cheaper.
In practice, the difference isn’t always this big. For example, the 0.80 carat, D color, VS2 clarity round diamond from James Allen only cost less than 9% more than this diamond from James Allen of equal quality in the F color grade.
In short, the F color grade is slightly more affordable than the D color grade. However, the price difference isn’t as big as you might expect, at least for diamonds in the ~1 carat range.
Compare that to the difference in price between an F color diamond and an H color diamond of equivalent carat weight, clarity and cut quality.
The 1 carat, VS2 clarity, excellent cut, F color round brilliant cut diamond we compared above sells for $5,280. Meanwhile, the H color diamond from above that is of similar carat weight, identical clarity and cut quality is only $4,420 — a full $860, or 16%, less expensive.
You can read more in our article on diamond value where we explain how diamond prices are calculated and what affects them most.
As we’ve covered before, by far the most important factor in determining how brilliant a diamond looks is its cut quality, not its color.
Because of this, we generally don’t think it’s worth overpaying for a D, E or F color diamond just because it’s graded as colorless rather than near colorless. Once the diamond is set in a setting and worn on your fiancé-to-be’s finger, the difference between F and H, for example, is virtually impossible to perceive with the naked eye.
However, there are a few situations in which buying an F color diamond can be a good decision.
The first is if your budget allows it. If you’ve already set your budget for an engagement ring and find that an F color diamond fits into it without affecting the diamond’s cut quality or carat weight, then there’s nothing wrong with choosing an F color diamond.
The second is if you’re choosing a side stone setting with larger and certified side diamonds. If they are in the F to G range, an F color center will match the side stones and either part will look warmer in color.
As for situations in which buying an F color diamond usually isn’t the best option, we’ve shared our recommendations for specific diamond shapes below.
F color diamonds fall into the colorless range of the color scale, meaning they’ll look colorless in a side stone, halo or pavé setting. With this color grade, there’s no need to worry about the side, halo or pavé diamonds appearing lighter than the center stone.
For many settings, you can comfortably drop down to the G/H color grade without having to worry about the appearance of your center stone.
F color diamonds are higher than G on the diamond color scale. Yet both diamonds should appear completely colorless under normal viewing conditions when set in a ring.
F is an extremely high color grade for a diamond, near the top of the diamond color grading scale. F diamonds, along with D and E diamonds, are described as “colorless”, meaning it’s very difficult, even for professionals, to notice any hint of color in the diamond.
F is a higher color grade than H, two spots higher on the diamond color scale. A professional should be able to tell the difference – yet to a regular person, under normal viewing conditions, there may be little difference between the two.
D and F diamonds are among the highest-quality diamonds in terms of color grades. They’re both classified as “colorless”, meaning even professionals with specialized equipment are unlikely to find much if any, color within. D diamonds are of higher quality, as the highest color grade there is, yet F diamonds are also extremely rare, beautiful and sought-after in their own right.
D, E and F diamonds are rarely worth the premium you’ll pay in price. You can get diamonds with a lower color grade (and thus a lower price) that still appear colorless to the naked eye, particularly when viewed in an engagement ring setting.
F color diamonds look fantastic, with an almost completely colorless appearance that’s ideal for both white and colored metals alike. As the least expensive color grade in the colorless area of the diamond color scale, an F color diamond offer slightly better value than a D or E diamond.
However, most of the time, you’ll be better off buying a G or H color diamond over one with an F color grade. Despite being one to two steps further down the scale, G and H diamonds still look colorless to the naked eye, all while offering much better value for money.
Remember, any yellow or rose gold setting will create the appearance of a slightly yellow stone anyway, making the F color grade an unnecessary investment and reducing the amount you’re able to spend on more important factors, such as a diamond’s clarity and carat weight.
Need help choosing the right diamond? Contact us and our experts will help you find the best diamond for your tastes and budget.
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