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H vs I Color Diamonds: Which Is Better? (2024 Comparison)

Looking to know which is better between H vs I Color Diamonds ?

You’re at the right place!

This is our comparison of the H vs I Color Diamonds 

In this article, I have reviewed both diamonds in-depth and will fully explain to you which one is better.

Let’s get started with an in-depth look at what sets these diamonds apart.

Let’s get started!

What’s The Difference Between H vs I Color Diamonds ?

H Color Diamonds

An H color diamond, positioned as the fifth highest grade on the GIA color scale, may seem like it falls lower down the list of colorless wonders. However, with a total of 23 grades, it proudly holds its place as a near colorless gem, nestled between the esteemed G and the charming I.

When gemologists meticulously evaluate a diamond’s color grade, they scrutinize it under magnification, basking it in the glow of perfect lighting conditions. Comparisons are made to a “master stone,” a flawless representation of each color. If you wish to witness the beauty of an H color diamond firsthand, feast your eyes on this exquisite specimen from James Allen. Take a moment to rotate the image and marvel at its appearance from every angle. You’ll be hard-pressed to spot any discernible yellow tones.

Indeed, if one were unaware of its color grade, they might mistake it for the highly coveted D grade, the epitome of colorlessness. Such is the enchantment of near colorless diamonds—those subtle hues that evade the naked eye’s detection. Yet, the true distinction reveals itself when an H diamond is placed alongside its colorless counterpart, unveiling a delightful contrast.

In essence, while the H diamond possesses a remarkable ability to mimic colorlessness in everyday settings, its enchanting yellow undertones become more pronounced when juxtaposed with a truly colorless gem.

I Color Diamonds

An I color diamond holds the esteemed position of being the sixth highest grade on the renowned GIA color scale, nestled gracefully between the captivating J and the radiant H. Within the near colorless category, it proudly claims the third spot, showcasing its unique charm.

While the subtle yellow tints of an I color diamond may not immediately catch the attention of an unaided eye, they become more discernible under the meticulous examination of a skilled gemologist. With the aid of a jeweler’s loupe and under strong lighting conditions, these delicate hues reveal their presence.

To witness the captivating allure of an I color diamond, indulge in the pleasure of a 360-degree rotation, allowing you to explore its intricacies from every angle. This high-resolution view offers a true appreciation of its beauty.

When viewed in isolation, an I diamond may deceive the untrained eye, appearing almost colorless. However, similar to its counterpart, the H grade, the true distinction becomes apparent when it is placed side by side with a pristine D diamond, the pinnacle of colorlessness.

Observe how, although the entirety of the table may not be adorned with yellow, there are certain areas where it becomes visibly apparent in the I diamond. In contrast, the table of the D diamond remains immaculately clear. Moreover, the yellow undertones in an I diamond become more pronounced when viewed from the side, adding a unique charm to its overall character.

Indulge in the visual splendor of an I color diamond, where the captivating yellow hues remain discreet in a face-up view, only to reveal their allure when the image is rotated. By comparing it directly to a colorless diamond, you will truly understand why there exists a discernible distinction between I color diamonds and those that achieve the highest grades.

Distinctions between I and J Color Diamonds

  1. Color Visibility:

H color diamonds earn their higher grade because they exhibit less visible yellow compared to I color diamonds. The distinctions between color grades on the scale are often marginal and may not be immediately apparent when viewed individually. It is when these diamonds are observed side by side that the differences become more noticeable, albeit not always glaringly so.

In the accompanying image, both the H and I color diamonds display a degree of color, but the I color diamond exhibits slightly more yellow. The intensity of the yellow is more pronounced towards the center of the table, while the edges appear nearly colorless, similar to the H diamond. These subtle differentiations persist as one traverses the color scale, such as between F and G color diamonds and I and J color diamonds.

Due to the minimal yellow visible to the naked eye in H diamonds, they are often preferred for engagement rings over I color diamonds. Instead of placing significant emphasis on a specific color grade, most buyers prioritize finding a diamond that appears colorless to the unaided eye while avoiding the premium prices associated with higher grades.

For instance, consider an exquisite engagement ring featuring an H color diamond. Nestled within a 14k white gold setting adorned with pavé, this piece radiates brilliance from every angle. While the presence of yellow can be detected under 10x magnification, it is likely invisible to the naked eye. The H color diamond creates the illusion of a colorless gem without incurring the cost of that particular grade.

2. Price:

When all other factors are equal, buyers are generally willing to pay a premium for diamonds that achieve higher grades across the four Cs: color, cut, carat, and clarity. Even a single position up the color scale can result in a significant change in cost, often ranging in the hundreds of dollars. As a general rule, each step up or down the color scale can lead to a 10-20 percent price difference.

When transitioning from one category to another, such as from near colorless to colorless, the price increase tends to be on the higher end of that spectrum. In the case of H versus I diamonds, a comparison of 230 loose diamonds from James Allen with consistent characteristics—0.90 carat, excellent cut, and VVS2 clarity—revealed notable pricing distinctions.

On average, H color diamonds were priced at $5,648, with a range of $5,290 to $6,310. In contrast, I color diamonds averaged $5,005, with a range of $4,570 to $5,630. This represents a 13 percent price increase, amounting to $643, for an H diamond compared to an I color diamond.

In many cases, the visual difference between H and I color diamonds is minimal. Therefore, the savings achieved by opting for an I color diamond can be redirected towards obtaining a slightly larger diamond, improving the cut or clarity, or investing in a high-quality setting.

If you decide that an H color diamond is the right choice for you, there are still opportunities to save in other areas. For instance, you can choose a slightly smaller diamond, one with a lower clarity grade that remains eye-clean, or opt for a simpler setting, all of which can reduce the overall cost of the piece.

However, one aspect where I strongly advise against compromising is the cut. Regardless of whether you choose an H or I color diamond, sticking with an excellent cut grade will maximize its brilliance and ensure a captivating display of white light when the diamond is in motion.

Speaking from personal experience, I selected an excellent cut for my wife’s engagement ring diamond, and the way it radiates luminous white light when it catches the eye makes every penny invested worthwhile.

3. Popularity:

When it comes to fancy shaped diamonds, which encompass cuts like princess, marquise, oval, emerald, and Asscher, the popularity of I color diamonds tends to be relatively lower. Each fancy shape has its own unique characteristics, and the way their facets are cut greatly influences their appearance and light performance.

For instance, princess and marquise cuts feature brilliant-cut facets that rival the light return of round cuts, resulting in impressive sparkle. On the other hand, step-cut facets, which are elongated and arranged in parallel lines, create a distinct warm glow. This is why emerald cuts are often complemented with accents such as halos or pavé settings.

In general, fancy shaped diamonds do not conceal color as effectively as round cuts. Consequently, I color diamonds are not as popular for fancy shapes because the presence of yellow may be more apparent, compromising the appearance of colorlessness.

To illustrate this, consider comparing an I color round-cut diamond with an I color pear-cut diamond. Although both diamonds possess the same color grade, the yellow tints are more visibly pronounced in the fancy shape. However, by opting for an H color grade in the pear-cut, the chances of achieving an eye-clean appearance are significantly enhanced.

While there are exceptions to these guidelines, it is advisable to begin your search for fancy shapes like cushion, Asscher, or pear cuts at H color grades to increase the likelihood of attaining a diamond with a clear and colorless appearance.

4. Contrast Issues with Setting Accents:

The selection of a diamond ring setting should not be overlooked when considering the overall performance and aesthetics of the piece. While the classic solitaire design holds timeless appeal, other settings, such as pavé and halo settings, incorporate additional accent diamonds that enhance the overall sparkle.

Take, for example, the captivating engagement ring showcased below, featuring both a halo and pavé setting. The combination of these intricate accents elevates the brilliance of the entire piece.


When used strategically, these accent diamonds can enhance the light performance of the ring without necessitating a larger center diamond, which often comes with a higher price tag. In fact, a slight increase in carat weight for the center diamond can sometimes surpass the cost of the entire setting.

However, it is important to note that some I color diamonds may contrast with the accent diamonds in the setting. For instance, if the tiny diamonds in the setting possess E or F color grades, they may accentuate the yellow tones of an I color diamond, diminishing its overall quality.

To avoid this contrast and ensure a harmonious look, one option is to select a setting that features I color diamonds, as depicted in the example below. The pavé diamonds in this setting are small enough to appear colorless, preventing any noticeable contrast with the I color diamond at the center.


This potential issue is less prominent with H color diamonds. Even if the surrounding stones have higher color grades, the main H color diamond can still maintain the illusion of colorlessness.

Therefore, when considering a diamond ring, it is crucial to consider not only the characteristics of the center diamond but also the setting and its accent diamonds to ensure a cohesive and visually stunning result.

Choosing Between H and I Color Diamond

When deciding between an H and I color diamond, it is important to consider how the slight difference in color grade can impact the diamond’s performance within a piece of jewelry. Here are some helpful tips to guide your decision-making process:

Consider an H color diamond if:

  1. The diamond is a fancy shape that does not hide color as effectively as a round cut.
  2. You wish to avoid the higher premiums associated with D, E, and F color diamonds.
  3. You have either personally viewed the diamond or examined high-resolution images online and are confident that it appears colorless to the naked eye.
  4. The diamond has a weight of more than two carats.

Explore I color diamonds if:

  1. The diamond is a round cut and has a carat weight of less than two carats.
  2. The accents on the diamond’s setting did not receive colorless grades.
  3. You prefer to allocate the cost savings towards obtaining a higher cut or clarity grade.
  4. The diamond has a weight of less than 0.5 carats.

Remember to pair both H and I color diamonds with various settings to find the perfect combination. By carefully assessing the grading report of the diamond and observing how it appears within the chosen setting, you will be able to find the diamond ring that suits your preferences and requirements.

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