D vs I color diamond engagement ring comparison. Can you tell which is which?
What is an I color diamond? Is it too yellow for an engagement ring? Is a near colorless diamond good enough? Will an I color diamond in white gold setting make its tint stand out?
These are common questions that consumers ask when they are shopping for a diamond ring on a budget. In this article, we will reveal answers to these questions and everything that you need to know when buying an I colored diamond.
If you want to see exactly what an I color diamond ring looks like in real life, you are in for a treat. I’ve performed a series of videos that includes an indepth review of an I color diamond engagement ring as well as side by side comparisons against other color grades.
So without further ado, let’s get started…
The GIA color grading scale is widely accepted as the industry standard when it comes to buying diamonds.
In the laboratory, diamonds are graded based on their absence of color in the face down position. They are then assigned a rating between D-Z; with D being colorless and Z being lightly colored.
The I color rating falls under the category of “Near Colorless” and as you can see in the chart above, the color differences are very subtle from one grade to another.
In typical day-to-day wear and environments, it isn’t easy to spot color tints in an I color grade diamond once it is mounted on a ring.
Well, it really depends on your personal preferences.
Here, I want to address one of the biggest misconception people have about I color diamonds.
You see, when people find out that I color diamonds are labelled as “near-colorless“, most people automatically assume they will be yellow in appearance even before they look at facts with their own eyes (literally).
In my opinion, the best way to determine whether a particular color grade is good enough would be to base your decisions on facts and tangible data.
Watch the following video for a review of an I color diamond engagement ring under various lighting conditions.
Even though I’m a trained gemologist who had been in the industry for years, I’m also a consumer just like you. Speaking from first-hand experience, I know it would be very helpful if you could see and visualize different color diamond rings at the same time.
The following video compares an I diamond against a D color grade and a K color grade which represent the opposite ends of the color spectrum sold by most jewelers.
Feel free to rewind or rewatch the video until you get a better feel of the various color grades in real life.
Can you see differences in the color hues easily or do they all appear white to you?
Do leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answers here as color acuity varies from one individual to another.
This is one of my pet peeves because many people get very hung up over one color grade as if it makes the world of a difference. So, here’s a video comparison for people who are sitting on the fence over choosing a H or an I.
In my opinion, it’s really very hard even for an expert to correctly identify a H from an I color diamond from a top-down perspective.
One of the primary factors that affect the price of a diamond is rarity. Colorless diamonds (i.e. D, E, F) are rarer in nature and they obviously come at a higher premium over other colors.
For value orientated shoppers, near colorless diamonds (G, H, I, J) can offer significantly lower prices.
Check out the price comparison table below to get a better idea of how color ratings can affect the value of a diamond.
As you can see, an I color diamond generally costs about 50% less than a D color diamond (keeping everything else like carat, clarity ratings equal). And when you look at the higher carat sizes, a 50% price difference can equate to tens of thousands of dollars!
Well, it depends on who you ask.
Personally, I have a very sensitive eye for color and I can discern a very slight yellow tint if I examine the ring from a side-profile. For most consumers (e.g. my wife), they would have a hard time seeing color when the ring is seen from a top-bottom perspective.
This 0.65ct I SI1 round diamond in a 6 prong solitaire setting cost a total of $3,270 ($2,230 + $1,040)
Side profile view of the engagement ring on my wife’s finger.
When an I color diamond is mounted in a white metal setting like 18k white gold or platinum, the diamond actually absorbs and reflects the colors of its immediate surroundings. This makes the center stone look “whiter” due to the metal colors of the 18k white gold/platinum setting.
It’s only human nature to want the best of the best when shopping for an important purchase like an engagement ring. While D colorless diamonds are the “highest” color quality you can get, they also come at an expensive price.
As you had seen in video comparisons, the perceived differences in body color are not obvious to an untrained eye. The underlying reason behind this is due to cut quality and light performance.
So, here’s my advice. If you are not color sensitive and want to get better value for money, going for a well cut I color diamond will enable you to get a bright, sparkly engagement ring without breaking the bank.
With that, we’ve come to the end of this article. I hope you had gained useful insights about diamond color and if you have any questions, feel free to drop a note in the comment box below!
Wow! I just realized the price differences are staggering. I can hardly detect any color in the videos and I think I know which color is the more budget friendly option now.
Hi Paul, I have been researching diamonds for several months. I am a VERY detail oriented person and somewhat of a perfectionist. From my online research I had decided I wanted to buy a Round, excellent cut, colorless diamond (d-f), VS1 or better in the 2-3 carat range. This was primarily based on looking on sites like James Allen where the diamond is the size of the screen and my perfectionist nature was bothered by anything less than these specs as clarity issues and color really stood out. Budget 30-50k, ideally ~35.
Over the past few weeks I have visited diamonds direct and Brian Gavin in person (I sat with Brian for about 2 hours). What I found is that I am sensitive to color in person but I can deal with a lower clarity as long as I can’t see it after scrutinizing the diamond with my naked eye (for the most part down to VS2). I also found that Brian Gavin diamonds are cut so well, a lower color is harder to notice. Your article about GIA triple excellent having a wide range of acceptable spectrum of proportions typically maximizing carat size really resonated with me and was almost word for word what Brian Gavin told me (he of course sacrifices carat for cut). I was pretty comfortable with BG diamonds down to I color, although it bothered me in my head.
Here is my primary struggle: Brian Gavin has limited inventory in the 2.5-3 carat range and for him to custom cut something that size in the g/f vs2 range is on the upper end of my budget. On the other hand, I have been very open with diamonds direct about my search for the pristine cut diamond and shopping at Brian Gavin. I even sent them screen shots of your measurements table (which aligns with the measurements range Brian said his diamonds fall in). Diamonds direct has access to thousands of diamonds and has sent me several that fit the “measurements” at a pretty reasonable price. For instance, this diamond GIA:5276828144 , seems to fit the measurements, has a good size and reasonable color for 35,900. A Brian Gavin diamond I saw in person and nearly bought is seen here https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/2.868-i-vs2-round-diamond-ags-104097641003 at 2 color grades lower (and slightly larger) for 38,000.
– I feel very comfortable buying a BG diamond knowing the cut will be near perfect; the thought of BG puts my perfectionist side at ease, BUT can a diamond like the GIA reference above be just as good with a better price?
– Brian Gavin uses AGS certifications as they focus on cut. Diamonds direct uses more GIA. Diamonds direct also feels like GIA holds a stronger standard for color and clarity to the point that an AGS H/VS2 would likely come back as a GIA I/SI1. Do you have experience with this or have you have an opinion on the standards of the 2 labs?
– Part of me is still stuck on a D color diamond, I truly feel like I can see the difference in person and love the white Ice look. That said, I do plan to mount in rose gold with platinum prongs. I can’t afford a Brian Gavin D in my carat range and if I go with a diamonds direct D I will sacrifice carat or clarity to fit budget (they actually showed me a 2.6 D SI1 that was eye clean for 36,500 today). What is your experience/opinion from looking at diamonds once mounted from a color stand point? Trust me, I’ve read the articles and seen the pictures online that show how different color settings can help or hurt the diamond but just looking for your opinion. When I look at “recently purchased” diamonds in rose gold settings on James Allen (again the size of my screen) I can clearly see the difference in all color ranges and the D’s are always impressive.
Thanks for reading and I really look forward to having some unbiased third party advice. Hearing from the dealers has made it difficult telling fact from preference from opinion.
Let me tell you that both AGS and GIA are on par. In fact, AGS is stricter than GIA. In the industry, the better diamonds get sent to AGS and the majority of junk get sent to GIA just so that they receive a 3ex grade. Jewelers know this and game the system in this manner.
I call bullshit on what Diamonds Direct claims and having them say this puts them on my blacklist for misleading consumers. If they want to market GIA diamonds, they should do so on the basis of providing tangible data. And not on fear marketing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love GIA as much as I do AGS. It’s just much harder to find truly well cut GIA diamonds even though they do exist. And with everything else in the world, you will be expected to pay more for better cut GIA diamonds. You get more; you pay more. I hope that makes sense and this is why GIA diamonds often have a huge variance in prices.
It’s possible to find truly well cut diamonds with GIA reports, https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/2.42-carat-h-color-si1-clarity-true-hearts-cut-sku-3432528 is one such example. But don’t get your hopes up. Well cut GIA diamonds are rare to begin with. And with the large carat sizes you are looking at, it is even much much more difficult to do so. And the price differences aren’t significant to make it worth the while.
If you plan to buy a rose gold setting, a D diamond will look reddish brown anyway. If you expect the diamond to be icy white, you shouldn’t be considering rose gold or yellow gold settings to begin with.
That said, color is up to personal preferences.
I looked at the diamond here: https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/2.868-i-vs2-round-diamond-ags-104097641003 and this is definitely a fantastic diamond.
You can probably see it for yourself in the tangible data.
What I can tell you here is that the BGD is a great stone and you’ll not go wrong with it.
Hi Paul, im scrolling in from Malaysia and i think your website is very informative! Thanks for helping out all the lost soul such as myself out there.
Im planning to make an emerald cut engagement ring, 1 carat with a budget of 3.5K USD. After few enquires i’ve stumbled upon 2 choices as below local jeweller and a jeweller friend overseas. It seems that this budget range will only fetch me an IVS2 emerald.
Stone #1 IVS2 Non Cutlet EX VG 1 Carat GIA: 5326347853
Price: USD 3700
I have the luxury of being able to view this stone in person, and i think it’s pretty alright. The hall of mirrors effect are there and all looks pleasing. However i can shake the feeling of under certain incidents of light i can see flashes of tint of yellow.
Jeweller advises that with the right setting and a well polished inner facade of the prong it would look significantly whiter. I’ve also scour the net that says its better to have a gold band setting that compliments the I colour. I didnt want my stone to look yellowish tho. Could you please advise which would be the best choice? And if to go with gold, does it matter yellow/rose the way the setting compliments the colour or its just really personal preferences.
Stone #2 IVS2 Non Cutlet EX EX Carat GIA: 2205168969
Video: I was sent a lab photo and video via whatsapp but however i do not have a link to it, if you’re interested i can mail it over to you.
Price: USD 3450
This stone have to be sourced in from my friend. I honestly couldnt discern as much from the video. But it looks good too. From the GIA cert wise it has an excellent symmetry compared to the VG from Stone #1 and if i look at the cuts technical data (ratio, table, depth) it seems that stone 2 is a more superior cut. (My layman experience albeit). There seemed to be more inclusions in stone #2 but i was assured VS2 is eye naked.
Still i cannot shake the feeling of unable to view this stone personally and I’ve seen stones with supposed triple excellent but looks dull/windowing/extinction in real life. And also point to note that this stone is 250 USD cheaper than stone #1, given its sourced from a jeweller friend in Taiwan.
Do you have any comments on the cuts of both of these diamonds too? I’d appreciate your advise!
If you are color adverse, 1 carat size emerald cut diamonds with an I color will likely show a tint of color. To get an icy white diamond, you will need to go up to G or better color. Without seeing details on the second diamond, there’s nothing constructive I can say about the diamond. Also, when you say triple excellent, those are references to round diamonds and not emerald cut diamonds. This page here will offer more help to you: https://beyond4cs.com/shapes/emerald/
Thanks Paul for getting back to me so promptly. Ive attached what i could get to help you analyse better. Basically my concern is i was told that every emerald step cut is different, some are more refined and some are poorly done and since GIA doesnt advise on cut, hence reaching out to you.
Stone #1 margins isnt as good and not having excellent symmetry.
Stone #2 has quite a lot of inclusions in VS2, since its eye naked it shouldnt interfere with the visuals?
Link: url removed.
To put it in a nutshell, i cant tell which stone is better.
And im not sure to go with white gold or yellow gold for I colour stone.
I can’t tell as well. Not with the inconsistent videography and photos in the first diamond. The 2nd diamond is OK although the contrast patterning could be better.
Paul! Just thought you could be interested. I had some gemologist reviewed and they actually said stone #1 is better in cut grade, brilliance and optical performance despite the excellent symmetry in stone #2. I was equally taken aback too.
I apologise for the badly uploaded content, i did give a better quality photo here.
link removed for privacy issues.
I am not surprised and I actually pay little heed to polish/symmetry ratings. As I had said in the fancy cut diamonds page, just because a diamond has Ex/Ex doesn’t mean it will look or perform better than a diamond with VG/VG rating. Those are technical grades assigned to the finishing of the diamond. Performance and brilliance is affected by how the individual facets work together in the diamond and this can only be assessed in person with experience or a properly taken video in unbiased lighting conditions.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful information you have published on this site. I had no idea what I was doing buying a ring, and I surely would have been ripped off without your help. What do you think of this stone? Is it a good value for money ($7500)? I am focusing on cut quality over color after seeing your video. It is an SI1, but I don’t notice the inclusions. The AGS report notes ‘additional clouds not shown,’ but I don’t think it looks cloudy. I will be putting it in a simple white gold ring.
I reviewed the diamond and it is an extremely well cut diamond which is also eyeclean. The note in the grading report about additional clouds is not an issue as the grade making inclusion is the crystal under the table facet. Rest assured that the diamond isn’t hazy and the inclusions for this SI1 diamond is perfectly fine. So, no worries there! It’s a good buy!
Hi Paul! Wanted to start off by thanking you for all the help and insight you provide. You have made shopping for my first ering a much more confidant experience. I would like your input on one thing. I’m looking at a .94 I color diamond from WhiteFlash with a pave setting that uses F-G color stones. The band is going to be Rose Gold. Do you expect that the I stone will look too warm compared to the pave band? Or will the combination of the rose gold and small (20 stone at .15 twc) of the band complement each other? Should I start my search over with a center stone closer in color grade to the band?
In addition to that first post, I’m looking at these two diamonds.
Both ACA. Which would you say is the better buy for my scenario?
For rose gold, the color tint of the band will be pinkish, reddish brown and it will impart this hue to the center stone regardless of it being a J or I or D color diamond. So, I won’t be concerned that I color will look “warm” in the rose gold band. I would not let the color of the melees bother me as well. If you are going for rose gold, you have to accept that it’s not going to behave like white gold because of its unique appearance. An I center stone is perfectly OK with the F/G melees and it will unlikely make any difference even if you go up to a F color in a rose gold band.
Now, as for the diamond selections, I’ve reviewed both of the diamonds and they both display strong light return. Between the 2, I do like the I color diamond more because of its larger size and inclusion positioning/size.
I just want to thank you for your recent recommendation on a Whiteflash diamond I just purchased (AGS-104112098044)!
My only concern now is that I went ahead and ordered a Rose Gold setting without even thinking that it could affect the diamond color. Now that I am re-reading questions/comments I see that I probably made the wrong choice and I am having buyers remorse.
To negate the overall cost and my budget, would you keep with the same order or would you change it up for the following AGS-104112218028 in a platinum setting? Or this same I colored diamond in the Rose Gold setting? What would you do?
I don’t own any Rose Gold and thought it would be fun to change up the look a bit but now I am really unsure. Do you have any video’s of Rose Gold setting/diamond comparison?
Thank you again! :)
An I diamond will look OK in a rose gold setting. In fact, I think I, J ad K diamonds complement the rose gold color nicely. I don’t have videos of diamonds in rose gold settings for comparison purposes and I think that color is subjective. I personally find rose gold to be very intriguing and have a soft, romantic vibe to it.
I’m super excited that I found this page. Thank you for educating me on what to look for. I’m looking to spend around 6000 or less on a solitaire diamond in a platinum setting. What do you think of this stone?
From what I can tell there are no visible inclusions, but there appears to be some “waviness” (forgive my caveman language) in the background. In your experience is this something that will detract from the diamond’s “brilliance”?
Thanks so much!
The lines you see in the diamond are polishing lines that aren’t visible in normal viewing. It is not something I would be concerned with. Cutwise, the diamond has solid light performance but there is one serious problem with the stone. Clarity is a BIG problem. There is a comment in the grading report that states “Clarity grade is based on clouds that are not shown.” This causes the diamond to look hazy.
You can’t outsmart the system thinking you can get an SI1 diamond with no inclusions. It is a pipe dream. For more details read these:
Ditch the stone because its going to have its light performance adversely affected. I did a search for you and would recommend these 2 diamonds instead:
Both of these are well cut diamonds that are eyeclean and MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better choices than the one you picked.
So I was in the market for a nice 1.5 carat stone. I didn’t have a set preference on color – just that I was getting a fair deal and it looked white in a platinum or 14k white gold band.
I pulled the trigger on this one and started having regrets because I don’t know if it was a good deal or not: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.51-carat-h-color-vvs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-13994917
So this one is IGI graded as 3 e’s and is listed as a vvs1 with an H color grade. To me..it does feel a bit warm for an H but when I compared it to some GIA H’s it seemed to be pretty close. I got this one around 13750 before taxes. Do you think I should return it and look for a GIA diamond and/or get a higher grade for a white/platinum setting? Is this truly an “excellent” cut since it is an IGI diamond? I’ve heard IGI is not to be trusted but when I saw the price I jumped and am now asking questions later (typical for me…lol). This has been tearing at me a few days now.
Thank you so much!
In general, IGI is laxer than GIA. This means that if the same diamond is graded at GIA, the color and clarity can be a couple of grades lower. The problem is, you won’t know and I won’t know unless I get to grade the diamond in a laboratory condition and unmounted. This is why IGI diamonds are always discounted relative to a like-for-like GIA diamond. Larger sized diamonds tend to show color more when viewed from the side profile and you can’t get an accurate picture just by looking at the video listings. This is because the videos can be taken under different conditions whereby a slightly higher or lower exposure setting can create an “illusion” of higher or lower color. The only way to do this accurately is to compare the unmounted diamond beside a master stone. Cutwise, the diamond is average and the price is around the ballpark figure of what I would expect to pay for an IGI diamond of this caliber.
Is that a keeper for me personally? No. Solely because of cut quality because I want the best of the best if I am personally buying a diamond. For James Allen shoppers, I recommend shopping within their True Hearts collection to find well cut diamonds.