Naked Eye Cut-Off Point: Colour / Clarity trade-off on Brilliant Round

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Jan 6, 2003

I have done some further research following my post a few days ago, and I'm actually finding this all very interesting and exciting. Still a novice - but a happy one!

I am now seriously contemplating A Cut Above stone from Whiteflash for an engagement ring. (Lesley at Whiteflash has been great so far!). I have a dilemma over colour and clarity specs.

Basically I want a stone which looks as close to perfect as possible *to the naked eye* (when it's set in the engagement ring), even on prolonged close up inspection, with max. fire / brilliance, but I am not particularly bothered about what someone would see if examnining the stone alone (i.e. out of setting) with a 10x loupe or greater.

In terms of clarity, is it worth going above an SI1 on that basis (i.e. can you tell the difference with the naked eye between an SI1 and anything above it? If so, what is the lowest grade (VS2?) above that when you *definitely* won't be able to see anything with the naked eye?)

Moving on to colour, I'm probably going for a white gold engagement ring. I've read that if the stone is to be set in white gold you should not go lower than a G, as "off" colour in an H or lower will show up because of the white gold metal - is this correct in people's experiences? (I've also read that H is fine, so I guess I just want as many opinions as possible). Is G a high enough colour grade, or would F (or even E) make a noticeable difference to the naked eye (when the stone is in its setting)?

Brilliance / fire is definitely my priority, but once I have that sorted in terms of what the stone will look like on her finger I want to maximise the carat weight, so I'm basically trying to get people's views of the trade-off between colour and clarity I should be making to get a stone that looks great (alive?) to the naked eye, work out what the lowest colour and clarity grades are which will still definitely give me that, and then use the rest of my budget to increase carat weight.

In summary, I guess I'm looking for what could be called the perfect colour / clarity "NAKED EYE CUT OFF POINT", i.e. perfection to the naked eye at the lowest colour / clarity spec needed to guarantee that is achieved. I have not come across an accepted term for this, but if there is one, apologies for not using it!

Any thoughts / advice / comments gratefully received. Cheers.



Nov 25, 2002
Claude, I'm sure you'll get several opinions on this. Here's mine, for what it's worth:

Color: Stones with a G or H color will perform well for you. These are the upper half of the "near colorless" range, and there is so little distinction between the two to the naked eye that it is negligible. The difference is better seen when the stones are upside down against a white background, but in the setting, your eye won't notice the difference. (Note: This is even more true if your stone has a faint blue fluor, which tends to make a stone look whiter.)

Clarity: Stones rated SI-2 or higher are all supposed to be eye-clean to the naked eye. If you want to "definitely" eliminate any chance of error due to a slight misgrade, then stay with SI-1.

In my opinion, here is the order of what's most noticed about a diamond:

1. It's presence (size, brilliance, fire...basically it's "wow" factor).

2. The color (more noticeable to naked eye than clarity is)

3. The clarity

If I were comparing stones, I would keep these factors in mind in that order. If I were choosing between two materially similar diamonds, but one had a slightly better color and the other had a slightly better clarity, I'd rather get better color because it's more readily noticed than the better clarity for the money.

It really, though, depends on what's important to you. Best of luck in your search.


Feb 24, 2002
You're pretty much asking for the impossible, Claude. Judging a diamond is subjective and opinions will differ. There is no cut-off point which holds that a diamond of a color of at least this and a clarity of at least that is perfect to the naked eye.

You have no choice but to personally inspect and compare several diamonds and pick the one that most appeals to you. You have to decide for yourself how much a diamond's yellowish tint bothers you. You have to decide for yourself how much certain inclusions bother you. You have to decide for yourself how far you're willing to stray from an ideal cut.

Anyway, don't be shy. Pick up the loupe and tweezers and dive it! You'll learn alot about yourself as you mumble: "This one's OK, but it's too yellow. This one's OK, but that feather annoys me. This one's OK, but it's kind of dead. Heh, this one's nice: good color, couple of minor pinpoints, look at that thing flash!"


Aug 22, 2002
Just wanted to add that clarity is also in relationship to the size of the stone. For example, you may not see the inclusion in a .45ct round brilliant that is graded GIA I-1 but you may see the inclusion in a 5.00ct round brilliant that is graded VS-2. The point is that clarity grading is not only subjective to the individual but clarity is in relationship to the size of the stone.



Jan 6, 2003
Thanks aljdewey, Greentree and geo10000 - all posts informative and help a lot.

I note Greentree's point on my personal inspection and opinion being paramount to final selection and I would love to be able to do this without worry. My problem is I'm based in London, England, but I'm now certain I want to make the final purchase over the internet from the US.

I intend to look at some stones in jewellers' shops in Hatton Garden, London to get some basic experience and pratical knowledge of physically viewing diamonds, but everything I've read suggests these (UK) stones will not (likely) be of the same quality (or at least cut quality) as the US stone I eventually intend to buy.

I'm therefore worried that whatever US stone I inspect first will look fantastic compared to the UK stones and unless I inspect several US stones personally I'll just end up going for the first US stone I order and inspect. Ideally I would like the opportunity to inspect several US stones, but I'm not sure if this is easy to do in the UK on a practical level.

- Is my only option to comparing US stones to get them delivered over here one at a time (presumably paying each time for the stone and delivery), then return them to compare with the next stone? I have numerous concerns about this:

- it will get expensive and detract from my overall budget if I keep paying to return (and insure return of) stones to the US;

- how do I really "compare" the stones if I don't have them side by side (I won't be able to afford to pay for two or more stones at a time just for inspection purposes);

- what if the first stone I view turns out to be the best? (does anyone know if I can "reserve" stones I send back, then inspect more in turn thereafter?);

- Whiteflash (who seem great and who I am likely to go with) have a 10-day return policy, which worries me if there are any problems getting a stone I want to return back to them in the US within the 10 days - I obviously don't want to end up with a stone I've tried to return just because it didn't get back to the US within 10 days.

I realise at the end of the day this may just be a problem I cannot get around without making a trip to the US, but if anyone has experience of this problem (i.e. inspecting several stones from the US in turn before making a decision when you are based outside of the US) and how to get around the practical difficulties I've highlighted above, please post your tips! Thanks.
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