If you're looking to maximize the appearance of your diamond look no further than the near colorless grades like G, H, I, and J color. An I color diamond is typically viewed as the sweet spot where buyers can maximize the icy white look of the diamond while buying at a much lower price point than an H color diamond (typically between 10% and 15% less expensive).
The average price of a 1 carat I color diamond is $5,577 according to our I color diamond price chart. This price assumes the diamond is a GIA "triple excellent" 1 carat round I color diamond with VS2 clarity and no fluorescence. Triple excellent diamonds are diamonds that have been graded as excellent in terms of cut, polish, and symmetry.
I color diamonds are the third grade of “near colorless” diamonds. Near colorless diamonds range from grades G - J and are the most typical diamond grades chosen in engagement ring jewelery since they balance both beauty and affordability (relatively speaking of course). I color diamonds (like most diamonds) may have a faint yellow hue when viewed from the side, but should generally face up white to an observer. But that's enough talk - it's easier to show you how subtle the differences are between different diamond color grades than it is to explain them.
"I color is generally considered a great combination of value and aesthetic for use in diamond jewelry."
Checkout these 1 carat VS1 clarity diamonds which span the color grades from D - K color in order (all with none fluorescence). Do you notice a major difference in color? Most people can’t tell the difference between any of the below except the K color, but even then some K color diamonds are whiter than others to the naked eye.
Believe it or not the above diamonds are all different color grades ranging from D - K in order from top left to bottom right.
Now let's take a look at the above 1.01 carat I VS1 diamond priced at around $5,600 versus the 1.02 D VS1 priced at around $9,000. At nearly double the price, the D color diamond is truly a whiter stone - but to the average observer this will be almost totally lossed.
It’s worth noting, diamond color grades are not consistent across all of the grading agencies. When we discuss diamond color we are referring to the GIA grading scale which is widely recognized as one of the strictest and most consistent grading scales in the world. The AGS has a similarly stellar reputation while some other grading agencies tend to inflate the grades of their diamonds relative to these more respected institutions.
As a diamond’s carat weight increases, the appearance of color also becomes more obvious. Generally speaking, I color diamonds will look white to most people even in larger carat weights. Again, color sensitivity is a personal preference. However, going up or down 1 color grade affects price more significantly than stepping up or down in clarity (generally speaking).
The diamonds above are in increasing carat size: 1 carat, 1.5 carat, 2 carat, 2.5 carat, 3 carat, 4 carat, 5 carat, and 6 carat.
I color diamonds are a great choice for diamond jewelry like an engagement ring or earrings since I color diamonds offer a good balance of beauty and affordability. That said, you should be aware of how the size and shape of the diamond (as well as its fluorescence) can impact the appearance of color to the naked eye.
There are several variables that can affect the ideal color grade for your diamond. First, lower color grades are a better choice for smaller diamonds than they are for larger diamonds in general as a smaller diamond hides its color better than a larger stone. Second, a fancy cut diamond will tend to show its color better than a round diamond. Third, the color of your setting is going to affect the way in which a casual observer perceives the color of your diamond. A yellow or rose gold color grade will actually make your diamond look slightly whiter than it would in a white gold or platinum setting. Finally, a near colorless or faintly colored diamond with faint or medium fluorescence can look slightly whiter than an equivalent diamond with no fluorescence (read our diamond fluorescence guide to learn how this works).
It’s important to remember that some people are more sensitive to color than others, but generally speaking I color diamonds are a great choice for most buyers and will face up white in white gold, platinum, yellow gold, or platinum settings. It is also important to note that the perception of color is relative and that a diamond will always look whiter once it’s been placed in a setting and yellower when viewed as a loose diamond.
Diamonds also look much whiter when viewed from above than they do when viewed from the size. Let’s take a look at two diamonds, both are 1 carat, VS1 clarity, and have very high cut scores above 9.0 (StoneAlgo’s measurement of a diamond’s expected sparkle and light performance).
Click on the images to see full details for each diamond on Blue Nile’s website.
One of these diamonds is a D color and the other is an I color, can you tell which is which? Most people can tell the diamonds look slightly different but the difference is subtle.
I color diamonds work well in any setting color including platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. If you are nervous about the appearance of color then a yellow or rose gold setting is your best bet as darker settings can make a diamond appear slightly whiter. That said - the below I color VS1 clarity diamond looks brilliant and white in a platinum setting.
This diamond engagement ring features a 2.24 carat I VS1 centerstone on a platinum pave setting with large side stones.
A little bit of diamond fluorescence can actually help a diamond appear slightly whiter in certain lighting conditions where UV light is present. However, too much fluorescence can actually be a bad thing. In certain instances the presence of very strong fluorescence can make a diamond look “oily” or “hazy”, so StoneAlgo generally recommends avoiding Strong & Very Strong fluorescence just to err on the side of safety. For I color we recommend none, faint, or medium fluorescence (read more in our Fluorescence Guide).
The above diamonds are all 1 carat I color stones. From first to last: none, faint, medium, and strong fluorescence. Click the images to see more details.