I Color Diamond – Basics
An I color diamond lands in the near colorless range. It has the benefit of being almost colorless, without commanding the premium of colorless or higher near colorless diamonds.
|PriceScope Pointer: A difference of 2-3 color grades is hard to detect unless you hold the diamonds next to each other. The most purchased diamond colors are graded F-G-H or I, set in white gold or platinum.|
Before going on: Check out the PriceScope Diamond Buying Guide
Diamond color is typically graded on a scale descending from D, which means no hint of color, to Z, which means light yellow or light brown.
An I color diamond is high on this scale, in a range described as “near colorless” by gemologists which includes G, H, I and J colors. There are only 5 higher color grades, while there are 17 grades lower than an I color diamond.
Considering its position in the scale, a grader giving a diamond I color is really describing an absence of color: Most of the world’s diamonds have some traces of yellow or brown, caused by chemicals in the earth where they formed. Diamonds with stronger levels of yellow and brown, as well as colors other than yellow or brown are categorized as fancy colored diamonds and graded using a different scale.
I color diamonds are some of the most popular choices, primarily because they can still be considered white, without commanding colorless premiums. The most purchased diamond colors are graded F-G-H or I, set in white gold or platinum. A difference of 2-3 color grades is hard to detect unless the diamonds are held next to each other and directly compared.
Will an I color diamond show any tint?
Unless comparing an color I diamond with a higher color, side by side, most people will not detect tint in an color I diamond, especially if it’s well cut. Note that an I color diamond with medium or stronger fluorescence may show visible tint the same color as the fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Three Factors which can Influence Color
Diamond color is analyzed with the stone in the upside-down position, analyzed from the side. This is done because three factors may influence diamond color appearance when seen from the top: The diamond’s shape, the way it was cut, and the presence of fluorescence.
As it relates to I color:
- Cut quality influences everything: Light escaping through the pavilion or bouncing around inside the diamond illuminates body tone. Light returning with intensity to the viewer’s eyes can reduce the appearance of color. An I color diamond may have color reduction or improvement depending on its cut quality. Read our section about diamond cut which unarguably has the most influence on overall beauty.
- As mentioned above, the presence of fluorescence could cause an I color diamond to have visible tint.
Shapes and Precious Metals
Check out our section on color evaluation for advice and information on which cuts show less color, depending on shape, and precious metal colors we recommend.
A color I diamond will not sparkle better than a diamond with lower color. A diamond’s observable brightness, fire, sparkle, and contrast are all attributable to its cut-quality. A diamond’s optical properties are not influenced by its color grade, except for variance in spectral absorption minutia which is rarely relevant.
If you are seeing an color I diamond which is inexplicably low priced it could have to do with a subtle or not-so-subtle brown, grey or green undertone which influences overall diamond color appearance. Such tint may not be disclosed on the laboratory grading report but are usually disclosed among wholesalers. Read our section on diamond color analysis for information on avoiding this issue.
Intermediate I Color Diamonds
The internationally accepted grading scale and terminology for diamond color in the normal range consists of 23 grading levels. Grading is performed with the diamond upside down. Color I diamonds are in the lower half of the near colorless range.
While the descriptive scale above is universally applied, standards can vary between individuals and organizations that decide a diamond has I color.
Variance between reputable graders and organizations may be attributable to standard deviation. Color and clarity judgments are matters of opinion and diamonds often sit on the border of two grades. The only time this becomes an issue is when a buyer and seller disagree about which set of grades establish the diamond’s value.
Value and Over Grading
Intentional over grading has been a historic issue in the diamond trade. Over grading is a willingness to purposely deviate from internationally accepted standards to inflate the perceived value of a diamond. Certain locations of the EGL (now closed) became infamous for over-grading loose diamonds, by 3-4 grades in some cases, permitting unscrupulous sellers to overcharge consumers.
Value and Under Grading
Under grading occurs when a jeweler examines a diamond and claims it was over graded to create fear-based doubts in the diamond owner’s mind. The most frequent example of under grading is when one jeweler implies a consumer overpaid a competing jeweler, hoping the consumer will return the diamond and purchase there, instead.
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