Ask Neil: Getting the best out of a cheaper diamond

Ask Neil: Getting the best out of a cheaper diamond

"I'm looking for a diamond ring for the perfect 21st birthday gift to my daughter - but my budget is somewhat limited and I probably can't afford a high colour grade for the piece. In terms of the ring setting and cut, how can I get the best out of a cheaper stone with a yellow tint?"

- Lucia, Swansea

" There are a variety of ways in which you can really enhance the look of a stone if you’re not quite satisfied with the colour – for a 21st gift you could go for something quite contemporary rather than a traditional setting.

Setting the stone with smaller, accompanying stones of a lower colour grade will give it a brighter and whiter appearance, particularly for grades J and lower, which can begin to look quite yellow when set in lighter metals such as silver or platinum, for example. Here's a reminder of how the GIA grades diamond colour (most commercially-sold diamonds will rank between G-J):


Jewellers will often keep some of these smaller stones in their workshops but feel free to ask, as they will not likely be on their website or lookbook.

For a more affordable option, you can also purchase small-size, treated diamonds with customised colours, such as cognac or champagne.

Setting a larger central stone with a “halo” pattern of smaller, darker stones can really bring out its sparkle, and provides flexibility in a design, particularly with stones around the 1mm range.

For example, I created this design for a client, Dominic, who wanted to capture the steampunk aesthetic of his fiance's tattoo in her engagement ring. The horseshoe of smaller outer stones is interset with 0.3ct of tiny black diamonds - this was actually very affordable and captivates the eye by contrasting the light and dark elements of the ring.

As more of a side note, you might be interested to know that methods do exist to actually change a diamond’s colour.

One method is “coating”, with super-thin plastic or chemical layers applied to the outside of a stone, to improve an undesirable colouring, while another set of techniques are referred to as HTHP, or “high-temperature-high-pressure”.

These methods are less relevant for commercial use however, and require machinery and expertise typically found in a specialist laboratory. "


Neil Rayment is a Goldsmith-accredited fine jewellery and metalcraft expert with over 30 years of experience in the industry. 
View Neil's breahtaking designs at his own site, here.
Do you have a question for Neil? Send him your queries at for an answer!