I Color Diamonds: Are They Right For You?

Kimberly Zerkel | July 28, 2022

When it comes time to buy a diamond, there are many details to take into consideration that go beyond just your favorite shape. The diamond 4Cs — cut, color, clarity, and carat — refer to the unique attributes of each VRAI created diamond that undergo diamond grading to ensure the stone’s quality and value.

Where your lab-grown diamond lands on the diamond color scale will impact its beauty and value — not to mention its price tag. So understanding specific color grades is important. I color diamonds can be a wonderful choice for many engagement rings, and help you save when it comes to your overall budget. But are they right for you?

Read on to discover why I color diamonds might be perfect for you.

What Is An I Color Diamond?

I color diamonds refer to a specific color range of diamond on the diamond color scale. I color diamonds, along with G, H, and J color diamonds, are Near Colorless diamonds.

Near Colorless diamonds, when face up, still appear "colorless.” Many cannot tell the difference between colorless and near colorless without comparing them side by side against a white background. Depending on the shape and metal setting, most I color diamonds look virtually colorless to the naked eye. Under right lighting in a lab setting, or under magnification, some hints of yellow coloration might appear.

The nuances between Near Colorless diamonds are slight. But G and H diamonds are closer to “colorless” than I and J color diamonds are.

Is An I Color Diamond A Good Choice?

An I color diamond can be an excellent choice for certain engagement rings. Because it is Near Colorless, it will still shine bright; any small traces of color will be easily masked in a yellow or rose gold setting in particular. I color diamonds also work in platinum or white gold settings with no additional diamond accents, like side stones, a halo, or pavé details.

The real benefit of an I color diamond is its price. Because it is lower on the scale than colorless or G and H color diamonds, you can expect to save significantly while still investing in high color quality. This is why, depending on the ring and diamond shape you select, this particular grade can be the perfect fit for your budget.

How Do I Color Diamonds Compare?

The white diamond color scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (which have a yellow-brown tint). Many jewelry brands, like VRAI, only sell Colorless, Near Colorless, and Faintly Colored diamonds (usually stopping at K color diamonds). I diamonds come in at “sixth place” in the diamond color scale, but this doesn’t mean average or inferior quality as they still sit closer to the top.

Lower grades like a J or K color diamond will start to have a visible yellow tint. But an I color diamond, depending on its shape, cut, and metal setting, can be just as stunning as higher grades.

Read on to discover how I color diamonds compare to others on the diamond color scale.

H Vs I Color Diamonds

The nuance between a H and I color diamond is hard to distinguish for most individuals. Gemologists can spot the faint tint or traces of color that would separate these two Near Colorless diamonds by comparing them side by side from the bottom up. But for most couples buying an engagement ring, it would be harder to tell the difference.

But the price comparison will be noticeable. An I color diamond with the same clarity, cut, and carat weight will cost less than an H — usually hundreds of dollars less. So if you’re between the two and need to stay within a budget, I is a great choice for yellow or rose gold settings in particular.

I Vs J Color Diamonds

Like most color grades, telling the difference between I and J color diamonds would be extremely difficult to the untrained eye. J is lower on the color scale than I, but still considered Near Colorless. The true difference between the two is once again price. J color diamonds of the same clarity, cut, and carat weight will cost less than an I diamond.

I Vs Colorless Diamonds

When compared side by side against a white background, you might be able to see that an I color diamond has a faint tint compared to Colorless D, E, and F diamonds. But in an engagement ring setting, particularly a yellow or rose gold setting, the difference is likely indistinguishable to most couples. The difference in price can be dramatic.

I Color Diamonds And Clarity

Color and clarity are not determined by the same factors, meaning I color diamonds will land in different places on the diamond clarity chart. Some will be flawless, some very, very slightly included, and so on.

Determining if you should prioritize a higher or lower clarity grade for your I color diamond depends on your diamond shape. The large, open table of an Emerald cut diamond, for example, doesn’t hide inclusions as well as others, so prioritize clarity with this particular shape. As always, book an appointment with a diamond expert for more personalized advice.

I Color Diamonds And Cut

Not all I color diamonds have the same quality of diamond cut. An Excellent or Very Good cut will keep most I color diamonds shining bright, while lower quality will affect their overall appearance.

Prioritizing cut once again depends on the diamond shape, although a high quality cut will likely make an I color grade closer to colorless. A Round Brilliant I color diamond is best when its cut is Excellent or above (Ideal or Ideal + Hearts for VRAI created diamonds). Book an appointment with a diamond expert for more personalized advice.

I Color Diamonds And Carat Weight

Obviously, not all I color diamonds weigh the same. Some I color diamonds might be featured as smaller side stones in a Three Stone engagement ring setting, while others might be much larger and on full display in a solitaire engagement ring.

The main implication carat weight will have on I color diamonds is price. Moving up in carat weight will steadily increase the price of your I color diamond, depending on the other Cs.

I Color Diamonds And Shape

Shape is perhaps the most important factor to consider when buying an I color diamond. The shape can have a direct impact on how this particular grade appears. An I color Round cut diamond will likely hide any small traces of color, for example.

Elongated shapes or diamonds with large facets might not hide color as well. Marquise and Pear shaped diamonds in particular, it’s a good idea to prioritize color. More than most, traces of yellow can pool at the edges of these shapes. So if you’re in between I and J for these particular shapes, consider going up in the color scale, depending on your setting. For a white gold or platinum setting, consider purchasing an H color Pear or Marquise shaped diamond.

Book an appointment with a diamond expert for more personalized advice and compare diamonds by using the 360-videos on VRAI’s diamond table.

I Color Diamonds And Metal Color

Metal color is also extremely important when it comes to selecting your diamond color. Choosing platinum or a specific hue of solid gold will highlight or mask tints of color in your center stone.

Because platinum engagement rings and white gold engagement rings tend to highlight traces of color, I color diamonds tend to look slightly yellow in these settings.

Because yellow gold engagement rings and rose gold engagement rings not only mask color, but can imbue a stone with their color, they are the best choice for an I color diamond. Determine your budget first and book an appointment with a diamond expert for more personalized advice.

How Much Do I Color Diamonds Cost?

An I color diamond is by no means “inexpensive” as they are still incredibly valuable. But the cost difference between a colorless D diamond and an I can be staggering. An I color diamond can cost nearly 40% less than Colorless diamonds, depending on the 4Cs.

Should You Buy An I Color Diamond?

If you are purchasing a Round Brilliant diamond for a yellow or rose gold setting, then you should definitely consider buying an I color diamond. For other diamond shapes, it’s best to look at 360-viewing videos to see how the color is dispersed before purchasing.

For white gold and platinum settings, I color can work for you as long as there are no additional side stones, pavé details, or halo. And for featuring elongated shapes like a Pear in these metal color settings, consider going up to H.

Speak With Our Diamond Experts

Book a complimentary appointment with our diamond experts to determine if an I color diamond is right for you. They’ll give you personalized guidance, in-depth diamond education, and help finding engagement rings, wedding bands, fine jewelry gifts, and more.