Diamond Clarity I: Is It A Good Buy?

Gemological laboratories, such as AGS and GIA, assign the I1 clarity grade to diamonds with noticeable inclusions that can be seen with 10x magnification and the naked eye.

I1 diamonds are lower clarity diamonds because the visible inclusions present on the stone interfere with the diamond’s fire and brilliance, thereby altering how the diamond sparkles.

That is why experts frequently advise against purchasing I1 diamonds. Bigger inclusions can significantly influence how lights move through the diamond, causing a dull appearance and diminishing a stone’s brilliance.

Diamonds that fall between the low clarity grades of I1 and I3 on the clarity scale are generally considered low-quality because of the high obstruction of light passing through the stone.

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Beyond appearances, I1 diamonds may sometimes have internal inclusions to such an extent that they are detrimental to their durability, causing them to damage and chip easily.

However, I1 diamonds should not be condemned without careful consideration. There are ways to cover minor inclusions in such a way that that diamond may even seem eye-clean. This solution is particularly applicable to smaller diamonds of around one-carat weight.

I1 clarity diamonds present an excellent opportunity for shoppers with a low budget to be able to afford a beautiful diamond engagement ring, for example. 

There are many factors to consider when scouting for a high-quality I1 diamond, and today we will discuss exactly that.

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What Is Meant By “Clarity Grade”?

“Diamond clarity” is a term used to describe the appearance of a diamond. A gemological institute will grade diamonds based on how close to crystal clear they are.

The clarity scale presents a way of measuring diamond clarity compared to that of other diamonds.

Almost all diamonds have some degree of inclusions, but a diamond’s inclusions aren’t always visible to the naked eye.

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Included diamonds can have any of the following common types of inclusions:

  • Pinpoints- small crystals that look like tiny dots
  • Crystals- internal mineral crystals
  • Feathers- a fracture in the stone that occurred during diamond formation
  • Cloud- a collection of tiny crystals or pinpoints

Markings on the exterior surface of a diamond are called “blemishes.” These marks are the result of daily wear and polishing. Commonly seen blemishes include:

  • Bearding- A series of tiny nicks around the edge of the diamond that occurred during diamond cutting
  • Extra Facet- an unnecessary extra cut on the diamond that doesn’t match the design of the stone.
  • Chips, nicks, and scratches- this is the result of damage done during wear or ring setting
  • Natural- a dip on the outer edge of a diamond displaying a rough crystal

Most blemishes and slight inclusions can’t be seen with the naked eye, only with a microscope. Inclusions are what make each diamond so unique and identifiable.

This characteristic may come in handy when you get your stone back from a jeweler and want to confirm that it is, in fact, your diamond.

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Diamond Clarity Grades

The highest diamond clarity grade is FL, which indicates a flawless diamond, whereas the lowest clarity grade is I3 with various levels in between.

Needless to say, flawless diamonds, being the best diamond clarity, are the rarest and, therefore, the most expensive.

Second to FL, internally flawless diamonds have no internal inclusions but may have some scratches and nicks on their surfaces.

I1, I2, and I3 diamond clarity grades include all diamonds with inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye.

All three are of a lower clarity grade and will never entirely be eye-clean diamonds. The diamond’s quality largely depends on the extent to which the inclusions are visible.

I3 diamond clarity is the lowers clarity grade of the three, where I1 diamonds contain the least amount of eye-visible inclusions.

The following image demonstrates the GIA diamond clarity Scale:

What is an I1 Clarity Diamond

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I clarity diamonds all have inclusions, and I1 diamonds are included to the first degree. This means they have noticeable inclusions that can be seen using a jeweler’s loupe at 10x magnification.

I clarity diamonds can virtually never be classified as eye-clean diamonds because their inclusions can be seen with the naked eye.

Diamond shape largely contributes to the magnitude of the visible inclusions. For instance, step-cut diamonds, like Emerald cuts, Baguettes, and the Asscher cut, display the flaws of I1 diamonds to a great extent.

Other diamond shapes like the Cushion cut and the Oval cut conceal visible inclusions well. Therefore, some I clarity diamonds, and I1 diamonds, in particular, pass as being relatively decent in quality, though never entirely being eye-clean.

To find an I clarity diamond with reasonable eye-clean quality, you would likely have to filter through hundreds of diamonds. The ring setting sometimes covers the more noteworthy inclusions.

If a diamond is slightly included, it shouldn’t be too much of a concern, but bigger inclusions could hinder the durability of a diamond and make them more prone to chipping.

To adequately review the clarity grade of I1 diamonds or any other diamonds, you require magnified photos from a reputable vendor such as ICONIC, Blue Nile, or James Allen.

Even then, determining if a diamond is eye-clean can be challenging. Diamond experts should be able to state the diamond’s clarity and overall quality conclusively.

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Choosing I1 Clarity Diamonds

Buying diamonds with I1 to I3 diamond clarity is a complex endeavor, and a thorough visual assessment of the stone should be your first priority.

An I clarity diamond is generally not the best option. Especially if you are shopping for diamond jewelry as long-lasting as an engagement ring, you should opt for a higher clarity grade.

However, if you are dead set on buying a diamond with I1 diamond clarity, you should search for diamonds with widely scattered inclusions or inclusions that are hidden under prongs. You could also insist on bigger prongs that will better cover the included areas.

Your choice of setting could go a long way in hiding the more undesirable areas of included diamonds. Wide, flat tab prongs are suitable for this purpose.

Once a diamond is mounted and neatly set, most observers won’t be able to see the inclusions without detailed investigation.

The price difference between an I clarity diamond and a similar diamond with a higher clarity grade is truly drastic and could make all the difference when you’re on a budget.

Many people condemn I1 clarity diamonds right off the bat, but it is yet possible to find an I diamond clarity that conveys the illusion of being an eye-clean diamond.

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Will Durability Be An Issue?

The answer is likely yes. An I clarity diamond will be more prone to durability issues, but then again, all diamonds run the risk of obtaining damage regardless of their position on the clarity scale.

A I1 diamond is especially prone to breakage if it contains black inclusions. Black inclusions cause diamonds to stray very far from being eye-clean.

Whether you buy a flawless diamond, internally flawless diamond, or an I clarity diamond, chipping and breakage will always be a possibility.

A wedding and engagement ring, in particular, are highly exposed to various elements in daily life and will likely obtain some damage over time.

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Red Flags To Watch Out For When Shopping For Diamonds

Even when a stone is classified as an I1 diamond, some vendors may attempt to convince you it has a high clarity grade and determine the price accordingly.

Many vendors use the same tricks to achieve a dishonest sale. This is what you should look out for:

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They Will Say An I1 Diamond In Eye-Clean

Diamond experts all have the mutual understanding that an I1 diamond can only be an eye-clean diamond if it is under 0.5 in carat weight.

Any larger stone cannot be eye-clean with an I1 clarity grade because imperfections are more readily visible with bigger diamonds. Although there might be exceptions to this statement, it is most likely always going to be the case.

Jewelers Will Show You A Clarity Plot

A clarity plot is essentially a map displaying all the inclusions and blemishes found in a diamond. If the clarity plot doesn’t note any imperfections in an I1 diamond, it is a major red flag.

You cannot trust the certificate the jeweler offers you because it’s just a ploy to sell you a diamond positioned low on the diamond clarity scale for the price of a diamond with a high clarity grade.

A Jewel Will Say That Visible Inclusions Should Be Disregarded.

Although clarity isn’t the be-all and end-all aspect of a diamond’s quality, cut quality certainly is. Obvious blemishes and inclusions interfere with the beauty and brilliance of a diamond.

Large inclusions and flaws impede the manner in which light travels through the stone, causing it to appear dull.

Therefore, a vendor going to great lengths to convince you that inclusions aren’t of great significance is a sure sign of dishonesty, and you should start looking for a different jeweler.

Furthermore, if a vendor tries to sell you an I3 clarity diamond, you can be sure that they don’t have your best interest at heart. I3 diamonds are only used by laboratory entities that are less than reliable, and you’ll end up buying a diamond with very poor value and brilliance.

The diamond industry is frankly quite ruthless, and devious vendors will say just about anything to get you to make a purchase. Don’t fall victim to this unjust behavior.

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Are I1 Diamonds Good For An Engagement Ring?

I1 diamonds do not make exceptional center stones of engagement rings. As a center stone is frequently the main point of attraction, the imperfections in an I1 clarity diamond will be perceptible.

Although the color is a more important factor than a diamond’s clarity, an I1 diamond is not a smart option for a center stone of an engagement ring.

Conversely, if you are shopping for a smaller stone for a side stone in an engagement ring, I1 diamonds are allowable.

In fact, it would be wise to purchase I1 diamonds to, for example, line a pave band, as the imperfections won’t be visible, and you will save a lot of money.

I1 diamonds are ideal for something like a tennis bracelet or a pave ring, which won’t accentuate the diamond’s clarity too much.

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Is An I1 Diamond A Good Buy?

If you’re looking for a center stone for your engagement ring, an I1 diamond is not the best way to go.

Maybe your tight budget only allows you to explore lower clarity grades, but you should rather browse for eye-clean VS2, SI1, or even SI2 diamonds.

These clarity grades will offer you eye-clean diamond options without expecting you to drain your savings.

Certain diamond shapes could give the illusion of higher clarity grades. Our diamond experts recommend the following shapes:

Round Cut And Princess Cut Diamonds

These cuts are optimal for VS2 and SI1 clarity diamonds. Sometimes even SI2 diamonds won’t contain visible inclusions either.

If you are searching for a larger diamond, a VS1 or VS2 round or princess cut diamond will offer the most eye-clean appearance for the lowest price.

Moreover, brilliant-cut diamonds are extremely compatible with VS2 and SI1 clarity diamonds.

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Oval-Cut, Radiant Cut, Pear-Shapes, Cushion Cut, and Marquise

These shapes conceal inclusions very well, so they will yield eye-clean SI1 and SI2 diamonds.

Asscher Cut, Emerald Cut, and Baguette

These cuts display any imperfections to a great extent. Therefore, implementing any of these cuts to VS2 shapes or any higher clarity grade will give you the best value.

When To Buy I1 Diamonds


Not everyone has the financial capacity to afford a flawless diamond. As most of the emphasis on a diamond’s quality is placed on its cut and carat weight, clarity can be compromised if it means you can afford a larger diamond.

With the help and guidance of a diamond expert, you can well end up with a beautiful diamond for a very reasonable price.

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Your motive for purchasing a diamond may not require exquisite clarity. For instance, if you seek diamond earrings or pendants, it surely wouldn’t matter if the diamond is slightly included or even has larger inclusions.

Clarity isn’t a major factor in smaller pieces because the viewing distance is often much greater than for a ring.

Nobody is going to pull out their loupe and examine your diamond closely out of the blue. The cut and carat weight is undoubtedly more important.

In Conclusion

I1 diamonds lie on the lower end of the clarity scale and, therefore, don’t make impressive center stones. Their inclusions interfere with light passage and diminishes the brilliance of the diamond.

However, I1 clarity diamonds are exceptionally useful in their smaller forms. Though never being completely eye-clean, the inclusions on smaller stones are rarely noticeable. Not to mention the significant price difference between higher clarity grade diamonds and I1 diamonds.

If you are on a budget, a I1 diamond might be just the thing you need. An experienced diamond experts can help you identify the best quality I1 diamonds for a reasonable price.

In short, whether a I1 diamond will be suitable for you depends on your purpose for the stone, your budget, and your preference.


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