I Color Diamond: Complete Guide and Grade

Published by Virtu on

As you might already know, diamonds come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. If you have searched the market even a little bit, you will know that the value of a diamond is measured by its 4 Cs. The 4Cs of a diamond are its cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. The color of a diamond is measured on a color grade scale approved by the Gemological Institute of America. The color grade scale begins from D and ends at Z. Diamonds in the D to F color range are considered colorless. However, the color grade we will be talking about today lies in the second-best color range, G to J. An I color diamond is called near colorless due to the fact that it has a very faint hue of a yellow or brown color present that the naked human eye can hardly detect.

Although it is difficult to detect the difference between a D color diamond and an I color diamond through the naked eye, the difference in their value is huge. You will soon understand why there is a difference in their values but not their appearance once you read this buying guide for an I color diamond.

What really is an I-color diamond?

As mentioned earlier, I color diamonds fall in the near-colorless range of the color grade scale. The GIA approves the color grade scale, and every diamond receives a color grade. Diamonds that fall into the I color category have faint hues of yellow or brown when viewed through a gemological microscope since they look almost similar to D color diamonds through the naked eye. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to invest in a colorless diamond because many different factors make a diamond appear beautiful. You could easily get away with buying a near-colorless diamond for much less and still make it appear colorless through different techniques like jewelry setting and choosing the right cut. To find out how you can enhance the appearance of an I color diamond, keep reading the article below!

Comparing an I color diamond

If you view a round cut I color diamond face up and place it next to a D color diamond in the same shape, you would barely be able to tell them apart. However, the difference between their prices is huge. A 1 carat I color diamond costs around $4000, whereas the 1 carat D color diamond costs around $7000. A difference of $3000! You could easily invest the money you saved up to buy a larger diamond.

However, if viewed from the side, the yellow or brown hues in the I color diamond become more visible. This phenomenon occurs because a round-cut diamond is great at reflecting light, making it harder to notice its color.

When we compare other shapes of an I color diamond with a D color diamond; the color difference becomes easier to notice. For example, a pear-shaped I color diamond is not good at hiding its yellow or brown color because it does not reflect light as brilliantly as a round cut diamond.

Cost of an I color diamond

The grade assigned by the Gemological Institute of America or any other grading entity impacts its value and cost. Diamonds in the D to F color grade range cost significantly more than diamonds in the G to J color grade range. As mentioned earlier in our comparison of an I color diamond with a D color diamond, you would end up saving around $3000, which is a huge amount to invest into other factors of the diamond. Or you could simply invest that money in your honeymoon trip or planning your wedding.

When should you choose an I-color diamond?

Buying an I-color diamond can be an excellent choice in many situations. As discussed earlier, if you are interested in a brilliant round cut diamond that hides color very well, buying it in the I color range will save you a lot of money. You will be unable to tell it apart from a D color diamond with your naked eye. If you know that you will place your diamond in a yellow or gold jewelry setting, it does not matter if you buy a D color diamond because it will appear slightly yellow regardless. A colorless diamond might appear yellow in a gold setting because the metal will pass on some of its colors to the diamond. Hence, investing in an I-color diamond will be the wiser choice if you opt for a yellow or gold jewelry setting.

However, if you want a white or silver jewelry setting, it will most likely enhance your I color diamond’s yellow or brown hues. If you are confused about when to buy an I-color diamond, we have made a comprehensive recommendation guide below.

When buying a round diamond

Brilliant round-cut diamonds are great at hiding their internal colors due to their excellent reflection properties. Although the diamond will not be colorless, the round cut disguises a low-grade color diamond to appear colorless in any metal setting, gold or silver. If you look at an I color round cut diamond face up in a yellow jewelry setting, you will not believe it had any internal color. Buying a round-cut diamond in a lower grade color will save you a lot of money that you could invest in buying a second or a larger diamond.

Other cuts

If you want to buy a diamond in the oval, cushion, marquise, or pear cuts, we recommend buying a diamond that does not have much internal color. It should possibly be in the range of D-G because diamonds in the previously mentioned shapes tend to show color more obviously than others.

I color diamond settings

All guidelines mentioned above are for rings with only one diamond as the centerpiece. However, if you want to get a ring made with a center diamond surrounded by other gemstones, you will need to check if the diamond appears colorless in relation to all other stones in the ring’s setting.

If you are getting a halo or pave ring made, try to pick a diamond from the F to G color grade range because an I color diamond will look very dark in this setting. The darkness occurs due to the fact that it has a difference of three-color grades, ruining your ring’s overall look.

Ideal weight for an I color diamond

You should keep in mind that as the size of the diamond increases, its internal color becomes more obvious. However, I color diamonds would look colorless to people viewing them through their naked eye even if they were in larger carat weights. Some people might be able to tell the slightest difference between an actual colorless diamond and a large I-color diamond if viewed side by side. The real internal color shows under a gemological microscope, but truth be told, no one will inspect your ring under a microscope.

Fluorescence grade for I color diamond

You must be wondering what the fluorescence grade for a diamond is. It is known as a diamond’s tendency to give off a colored glow when exposed to ultraviolet light rays. Have you seen those neon sticks people use during nighttime concerts? Technically, fluorescence in a diamond is considered a defect. Any diamond in the colorless D to F color grade range with a fluorescence property is put up at a discount of about 15%. However, there might be an advantage for people buying diamonds with slight fluorescence properties as it makes a diamond appear up to one grade whiter than its actual color. This phenomenon occurs because the glow emitted from the diamonds is a blue color, which is complementary to yellow, making the diamond appear whiter than it already is.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a D color diamond?

The color of a diamond ranges from a color grade scale that starts from D and ends at Z. The color grades D, E, and F are colorless. The grades G, H, and I are called nearly colorless. J, K, L, and M are faintly colored. N to R color grades are very lightly colored. S to Z grades are lightly colored.

  • What are the most affordable diamond color grades?

The most affordable diamonds for people on a tight budget lie within the G to I color grade range. These diamonds are near colorless and offer a great value to buyers since they can not visually tell them apart from diamonds in the colorless or D to F color range. However, near-colorless diamonds cost significantly less than colorless diamonds despite looking almost identical. 

  • Should I invest in a colorless diamond?

The answer to this is quite simple. If you can afford to buy a colorless diamond and do not mind spending extra bucks on its perfect grade, you should go for it. However, it is recommended that customers buy a diamond based on what they visually find appealing. For example, if you keep a near-colorless diamond and a colorless diamond side by side, you would hardly be able to tell them apart. Hence, if you need to stay within a tight budget, it is not worth investing in a colorless diamond and paying extra bucks for a feature that can only be detected under the gemological microscope. You can use the extra money you saved to buy a larger diamond or spend it on your honeymoon trip.

  • Can I color grade a diamond myself?

Color grading a diamond on your own would not be a good idea since you can hardly distinguish a near-colorless diamond from a colorless diamond unless viewed face up under a gemological microscope. For this reason, governing bodies like the Gemological Institute of America have taken up the responsibility to color grade every diamond accurately. Thus, it is not recommended to attempt color grading a diamond on your own because the naked human eye can not catch the difference in every diamond’s color. If you are not comparing a diamond properly next to others, it will be impossible to catch any internal color.

  • What are the 4 Cs of a diamond?

The 4 Cs of a diamond measure a diamond’s worth. They consist of the cut of a diamond, its clarity grade, color grade, and carat weight. The cut of a diamond decides how much light it will be capable of reflecting. Rounder cuts are likely to be great at reflecting light, and thus, it is difficult to catch any internal color in diamonds with this cut. Princess cut is similar in its reflection properties, and people often opt for this cut if they buy a diamond from the near-colorless range because it masks the color well. Other cuts are not that great at reflecting light.

For this reason, diamonds with any other cut are likely to show their color more obviously than brilliant round cut or princess cut diamonds. The clarity grade scale begins with Flawless and ends at Included. As is the case with a diamond’s color grade, it is also not worth paying extra for the perfect clarity of a diamond because it is only detected under a gemological microscope.


To sum it up, I color diamonds are an excellent choice for customers looking for an almost colorless diamond on a tight budget. It offers great value for your money, and you can play around with the jewelry setting and the diamond’s cut to enhance its appearance even more. The recommended cuts for an I color diamond are round and princess cuts. By choosing an I color diamond, you will save a lot more money than you will when buying a D-color diamond. You can invest the saved money to buy a larger diamond or spend it somewhere else, like your wedding or honeymoon trip. We hope this guide has led you in the right direction and you buy a diamond you are pleased with. Happy shopping!

Categories: Jewelry


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