Is Buying a J Color Diamond a Good Idea?

Written by: Benjamin Khordipour, Jewelry and Gemology Expert
May 22, 2023 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Are you wondering whether you should buy a J color diamond? Don’t worry! It’s a really good question! Even experts struggle with this question. In this article, we are going to explore if purchasing a J color diamond is a good or bad idea.

So what’s the answer?

Read our definitive article below to learn everything that you need to know before buying your J color diamond.

What is a J Color Diamond?

loose j color diamond near tweezers and jeweler loupe on black background

A J color diamond is the lowest classification of diamond within the “near colorless” color category. A diamond’s color is graded on where it falls on the diamond color scale. Within the diamond color scale, the colors are divided into categories ranging from “colorless to light color”.

Take a look at the graph below to get a better understanding of where J color falls on the color scale. The color scale itself goes from D color to Z color. D is “Colorless” and Z is at the end of the “Light Color” range. Any diamond which qualifies as a color beyond a Z classification is usually referred to as a “fancy diamond“. Fancy diamonds aren’t white diamonds with a hint of color, but rather truly colored diamonds.

Diamond color scale graph highlighting J color
Diamond Color Scale

Based on that, you’d imagine for thinking that a J color diamond would be pretty colorless, but this isn’t necessarily always the case. As J classification is the last of the grades which are determined to be “near-colorless”, it’s one step above the “faint” color category, where the color within the diamond can be quite easy to detect with the naked eye.

However, many factors affect the overall appearance of a diamond’s color once it’s set in a ring which is why a J color can often appear like a diamond higher on the scale. Practically this means that often a J color diamond can be an excellent choice for an engagement ring because while the color difference between a J and a higher grade is minute, the price difference is significant.

The Advantages of J Color Diamonds

Emerald J color diamond engagement ring with emerald accent stones and micro pave set band
1.101-carat Basswood Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU DYL5 

When set in platinum or white gold, a J diamond still appears almost colorless. A particularly keen eye may spot a hint of color, but the vast majority of people never will. The reason is that the diamond color is decided against a fixed scale and in a very specific environment. That is, not in the varying light we all have to contend with every day.

The human eye is very adept at understanding what colors should look like, so it makes adjustments to the overall scene based on what the brain is expecting to see. This means the color that is present in a diamond is adjusted by the eye to look, well, like a diamond.

Then there’s the cost. A J diamond will be a fraction of the price of a D diamond, and might well be as much as 40% cheaper than even an H diamond. This is especially true above 1 carat, as the color can become more pronounced in larger stones.

How Much Does a J Color Diamond

Diamond price varies based on multiple factors including cut, clarity, color, and perhaps most significantly, carat weight. This is due to the fact that larger diamonds are more scarce than smaller ones, making a diamond’s value larger than the sum of it’s parts. So where a 1 carat stone would cost around $5,000, a 2 carat stone of the same specs (clarity, cut, color) can cost around $20,000 or nearly 4 times as much even thought the weight is only double.

J color diamond pricing graph market prices 2024
Market pricing as of 2024.

To get a better understanding of how much a J color diamond can cost, let’s take the example of a VS2 excellent cut round brilliant J color diamond and see how the price increases based on carat weight. Note that the prices below reflect market prices as of 2024. For exclusive pricing with better value contact us at Estate Diamond Jewelry for the best rates.

Carat WeightPrice
.50 Carat$900
1 Carat$4,300
2 Carats$17,600
3 Carats$45,000
4 Carats$70,000
5 Carats$107,500
6 Carats$129,000

Difference Between I Color and J Color

The price difference between an I color and a J color is quite significant. With all things staying the same with the other specifications, you can still expect a big bump in price between an I and a J.

The difference between the shade of color, however, is very minimal. In the graph below you can see the color difference between an I color and a J color diamond. To be able to get the best comparison we kept the other specs the same. Both are round brilliant, very good cut 1 carat diamonds with an IF clarity grade.

I color vs J color diamond comparison graph top view
Based on 1 carat, very good cut, IF graded diamonds.

As you can see, when viewed from the top (which is how most diamonds will be viewed when set in a ring), the color difference is extremely hard to detect. When viewed from a different angle however, the color difference becomes much more apparent. Let’s look at the same diamonds in the graph above from a side view.

I color vs J color diamond comparison graph side view
Based on 1 carat, very good cut, IF graded diamonds.

As demonstrated in the graph above, these same diamonds have a much more pronounced color difference when viewed from a side angle. The J color appears to have a detectable yellow tint while the I color looks nearly clear.

How to Make a J Color Diamond Appear Whiter?

Based on what we established above, using a J color stone for an engagement ring can be a much more cost effective choice than an I or higher grade color. Since the diamond will mostly be viewed from the top, the color difference really won’t be very apparent but you’ll be way less than what an I color stone would cost.

There are also several factors that will further help to minimize any yellow tint so let’s look at those below.

Finding White Face-up J Color Diamonds

customer inspecting diamond engagement ring and wedding band

We always suggest examining the J color diamond before you purchase the stone. A diamond ring that is already set will always viewed from above. The color that shows when looking directly above is called the “face-up”.

Some J color diamonds will show a very yellow face-up while others will hide the yellow and show a white face-up. The face-up is the most important factor when judging the visual color of a diamond. Few people will see anything more than the face-up.

So when selecting your stone, make sure you examine it from the top and compare it against other stones for the whitest appearance. Often a J color with a white face-up will look far better than an H color with a yellow face-up.

Does J Color look better on Antique Diamonds?

4 Carat Antique Old European Cut Diamond Ring in prong setting
4-Carat Antique Old European Cut Diamond Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 167RJ

Antique diamonds are renowned for having much whiter face-ups than modern diamonds. A J color diamond that was cut in 1920 may have the same face-up color as an H color or I color modern cut diamond.

Antique diamonds were cut and polished in a completely different way than modern stones. Before highly accurate mechanical polishers were developed, diamonds were cut to respond to candle light.

Antique diamonds have a quality that can’t be replicated today. They were cut for different conditions.

We’re surrounded by electric light everywhere we go in the modern day, but in the times before the mass electrification of homes and businesses, diamond cutters had to be very creative in how they worked a rough stone, so as to capture as much of the available light as they could.

Here’s the good news.

Often, this means that an antique diamond officially classified as J color could just as easily pass for I, or even H, and is likely to be indistinguishable from higher color grade diamonds.

Antique diamonds also have the benefit of their own history and the fact that each one is utterly unique. Because of the very manual way antique diamonds were produced, unlike modern identically laser-cut diamonds, no two are exactly alike, thereby increasing further the already huge character antique diamonds possess.

Best Settings to Make a J Color Diamond Appear Whiter

14073 J color diamond with French cut sapphire halo engagement ring
1.17-carat Laval Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 14073

Another thing that can really affect how white your diamond appears is the setting. The type of setting and which accent stones you choose can really contribute to making your diamond appear whiter.

Here is a list of the techniques we recommend:

  • Choose a bezel setting over a pronged one. As we mentioned above, diamond’s will usually appear whiter from the face-up. Bezel-settings the diamond to hide as many of the side angles as possible which is where the yellow is most apparent.
  • Set the diamond in yellow gold. The yellow in the diamond will appear to be reflected from the setting and not the diamond itself.
  • Place the diamond in a colored stone halo-like sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. The color of the halo will draw the eye away from the color of the diamond
  • Expert Tip: Surround the J color center stone with a halo of L-M color diamonds. The L-colored diamonds will make the center diamond appear G-H color.
  • Find a diamond with fluorescence. Fluorescence is good for diamonds with hints of yellow.

Obviously, there are enhancements and treatments that can also be done to make the diamond appear white. We strongly caution against trying any enhancement techniques. It will strongly affect the value of your diamond.

Shop J Color Diamond Rings

Here are a few examples of J Color diamond rings. Feel free to contact us for advice about shopping for a J color diamond.

Talk to a Diamond Expert

Benjamin Khordipour in Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom

So, in short, a J diamond should be a great color choice for most people. A J diamond with an “excellent cut” is also far more preferable than a G diamond with a “poor cut”. If you love vintage, try to find an antique color J color diamond which will give you an even whiter looking stone.

Ready to find your diamond? Talk to one of our diamond experts at Estate Diamond Jewelry, fill out the form below and we’ll respond within 1 business hour.

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