I1 and I2 Diamond Clarity on the Grading Scale
On the diamond clarity grading scale introduced by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America), “I” is the lowest clarity grade (the letter “I” stands for Included). This grade is further subdivided into three sub-grades: I1 (the highest), I2 and I3.
The next best grade above I-clarity is SI (standing for Slightly Included), which consists of two sub-grades: SI1 and SI2.
The sub-grade immediately preceding the I-clarity range is SI2.
I1 and I2 Diamond Clarity Defined
Diamonds whose clarity is graded “I” have inclusions that are easy to see under 10x magnification.
In addition, these stones usually have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye.
While SI2 diamonds may or may not have inclusions that are visible without magnification, I-clarity diamonds will usually have easily noticeable black spots, lines, specks, or other inclusions. (Here you can see what SI2 diamonds look like.)
I1 clarity: Diamonds in this group will almost certainly have inclusions visible with the naked eye. These flaws will also be larger than those seen in stones in higher grades such as SI2.
I2 clarity: These diamonds will always have inclusions easily visible to the naked eye. Many jewelry retailers don’t carry I2 diamonds.
Difference Between I1 and I2 Clarity
The main difference between I1- and I2-clarity diamonds is in the visibility of inclusions.
In general, inclusions in I2 diamonds tend to be bigger and/or more numerous. As a result, inclusions in I2 diamonds will be more easily noticeable with the naked eye.
With I1 stones, it is still possible to find a diamond whose inclusions have a color, size and location that make the flaws barely visible with the naked eye.
However, such diamonds are nearly impossible to find in the I2 grade – stones in this group will certainly have inclusions that are easy to see without magnification.
Should You Buy I1-I2 Clarity Diamonds?
I1 and I2 diamonds may be among the cheapest, but it is questionable whether it is worth it to buy such a stone if its inclusions will be easily seen when you are wearing it.
If you examine a good number of I1 stones, you may find one in which the inclusions are dispersed throughout the stone.
If these flaws are also white or transparent and are smaller, they may not be easily visible. In such a case, you may be able to get an I1 stone that is reasonably clean and save some money on clarity.
Just keep in mind that eye-clean I1 diamonds are the exception, not the rule in this clarity grade.
I2-clarity stones are not recommended if you are searching for a stone that looks clean.
These diamonds have easily visible inclusions that may also detract from the brilliance of the stone. In fact, many jewelry stores do not carry diamonds in this clarity grade at all.