Jewelry Blog

I Color Diamonds

I color diamond rings in artistic layout

I color diamonds are on the cusp of the Purist Vs Realist debate. They’re not absolutely colorless but, then again, whatever color is there is usually extremely difficult to detect. This means the decision on whether an I color diamond is suitable for you comes entirely down to personal preference.

What Is an I Color Diamond?

On the official color scale of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), I color diamonds come under the heading of “near-colorless”. Technically, only D, E, and F color diamonds are colorless.

When examined closely, and under very controlled lighting, anything below F may indicate faint color. This color is almost always going to be yellow. Other colors do occur in diamonds, but yellow tint accounts for almost all non-white stones. In general everyday wear, it is very difficult to spot any tint in most diamonds. This is often the case up to even J or K color. That’s not to say it isn’t there, just that it won’t be obvious to most people.

Pro Tip: Diamond color doesn’t influence the other 3Cs of clarity cut or carat weight. Clarity and cut can emphasize any color in a diamond.

How Yellow is an I Color Diamond?

diamond color scale highlighting I color diamond
Diamond Color Scale

As mentioned above, I color diamonds fall into the “near-colorless” category, on the diamond color scale. Diamonds with an I grading have the second lowest grade within the near-colorless bracket. This means that the price difference between an I color diamond and those with a higher color grade can be quite significant.

In terms of appearance however, to the naked, untrained eye it would be difficult to distinguish a substantial color difference. Under magnification and in the right lighting, I color diamonds may show a slight yellowish tint, but the color becomes much harder to detect in normal settings. Furthermore, when set in a ring, any color would become even less pronounced, especially as you’re not viewing the diamond from all angles.

That being said, not every cut will deemphasize color in the same way. Certain cuts will camouflage the yellow while others may highlight it. Choosing the right cut therefore, really makes a difference in how white your diamond will appear.

Are I Color Diamonds Good Value?

loose cushion cut diamond near pair of tweezers

Colorless diamonds at D, E, and F color come at a significant premium over other colors. A G color diamond, for example, can be up to 25% lower in price than the equivalent D color stone. This pricing trend continues through the grades. By the time you get to I color, it can be up to 40% less expensive than G color. Or put another way, less than half as expensive as a D Color. There are other factors to take into account, of course. The cut, clarity, and carat weight will all influence the price individually, but there’s no denying where the bargains are.

Take a look at the graph below. This chart depicts the pricing difference between D and I color VS2 clarity excellent round cut diamond. While the price difference isn’t that large with a smaller stone like a half carat, as the weight goes up the difference in price expands significantly.

graph comparing pricing of D color to I color diamonds based on carat weight

We’ve already determined that I color diamonds will look colorless to most people in most circumstances. It might help to know that even experts usually have some control diamonds they use to compare diamond color. By looking at a certified colorless diamond alongside another stone, they will determine what color grade to award.

Unless you plan to hold your ring against every diamond you see, I color can easily pass for a higher grade or even a D color stone.

That’s not to say that D color diamonds aren’t special, their very rarity proves that. If you do see a D diamond, then you will know you’ve seen one. They are just so rare, and so expensive that the chances of stumbling on one are pretty slim.

Dollar for dollar, or color for dollar at least, I color diamonds represent some of the best value for money you can find in a white stone.

How Much Does an I Color Diamond Cost?

Using the same example in the graph above, here’s what you can expect to pay for a VS2 clarity excellent cut round brilliant diamond. Bear in mind that the list below reflects market pricing as of 2024. Contact us Estate Diamond Jewelry for exclusive pricing.

Carat WeightPrice
.50 Carat$1,050
1 Carat$5,200
2 Carats$20,400
3 Carats$49,500
4 Carats$86,000
5 Carats$135,500
6 Carats$159,000

I Color Settings

emerald cut I color diamond engagement ring
Winona Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU D3176

Despite all we’ve said about I color diamonds being as good as colorless to the untrained eye, there’s a little more to it. It’s actually quite difficult, even for an expert, to determine diamond color using a top-down viewpoint. In order to see color clearly, it is the underneath which is the usual viewpoint. Diamond settings are only ever the “right” way up, of course, so things are on your side.

In a white metal setting such as platinum or white gold an I color will often, to the casual observer, look nothing less than colorless. But, in certain lights, the white metal can expose any yellow in the I color diamond. It’s still a matter of needing more than a cursory glance, but the chance is there. In all honesty, we’re not sure it’s anything you need to worry about, but it’s probably best to know.

In yellow gold settings, an enhancement of the color in the diamond occurs, however faint. The extra warmth of an I color diamond, however slight, works wonderfully with yellow gold. As well as helping the natural yellow of the diamond to come out, the reflection of the yellow gold of the setting adds further warmth and color. This can make for a very pleasing end result.

The Other 3 Cs

round brilliant I color diamond engagement ring with tapered baguette accents
Riveria Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 14668

Even with noticeable color in a diamond, the standard of clarity remains constant. The cut will also comply with the same exacting specifications as a D color diamond. This means the color grade really is the only “C” of the classic 4Cs of diamond grading by the presence of a yellow tint.

Weight, actually, can make a slight difference. The larger the diamond, the more likely the chance of color becoming noticeable. It’s not a physical thing in that large diamonds have more colors, an I color is an I color at any size. It’s simply that the facets will be proportionately larger, which can reduce the masking effect which normally occurs with 58 or 59 facets on a smaller stone.

When it comes to shapes, those with more facets such as round brilliant or princess cuts do better job of reflecting light that less faceted cuts such as emerald or ascher. Generally speaking, the more facets the stone has, the more light it reflects and the whiter the stone will therefore appear. There are exceptions to this rule, some multifaceted diamond shapes can still overemphasize color, so it’s a good idea to discuss with a diamond expert if you have a specific shape in mind.

All other things being equal, an I color diamond holds its own very well against much more expensive diamonds.

Shop I Color Diamonds

Summary

Pear shaped I color diamond ring worn on finger close up 13292
Alicante Ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry. SKU 13292

I color diamonds are probably the most cost effective way to get a diamond that appears colorless, which makes them a great choice for engagement rings. Unless money is no object, it can be good to start at I color diamonds to get a feel for cost and availability. Choosing an I diamond rather than a higher grade stone will also allow for a larger carat size in the budget.

Talk to a Diamond Expert

Shopping for a diamond engagement ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry

Looking to purchase an I color diamond? Contact on of our expert jewelers here at Estate Diamond Jewelry to get started on finding your dream ring.

D Color | E Color | F Color | G Color | H Color | I Color | J Color | K Color | L Color | M Color

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About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.