Jewelry Blog

Expert Guide to the I1 Clarity Diamond

infographic on I1 clarity diamonds

While most diamonds are beautiful, not all are created equal. Before making a purchase, customers should have sufficient information to make an informed decision. We’ll go over the facts you need to know about I1 clarity diamonds to help you decide whether they’re the perfect fit.

What Is I1 Clarity?

what is I1 clarity infographic with loose round diamond

I1 translates to “Included to the first degree.” Gems with this clarity grade have noticeable imperfections you can uncover with a jeweler’s loupe. Even if you don’t use a glass or loupe at 10x magnification, you might still be able to spot the blemishes. These flaws are nearly always visible to the naked eye.

Consequently, I1 stones fall to the bottom of the clarity scale. The term “clarity” refers to the inclusions and blemishes in the gem. Entities like the Gemological Institute Of America (GIA) and other reputable third-party labs issue diamond reports that include the clarity grade.

At the top of the scale are FL (Flawless) diamonds. These gems are free from surface blemishes and internal flaws, making them extremely rare. Only approximately 1% of stones receive an FL clarity rating. Due to their uniqueness, they have a steep price tag.

The GIA system has 11 clarity grades, and which category a gem falls into depends on the size, position, nature, color, number, and relief of its inclusions. Virtually all diamonds except FL stones feature inclusions, so the trick is to find one with colorless blemishes. They’re less noticeable, and if they sit on the periphery of the gem, you’ll hardly even notice they’re there.

While some assume it’s best to purchase a stone with the highest clarity grade, that’s not always the case. Diamonds with a lower rating can look just as beautiful as their FL counterparts if the inclusions are invisible to the eye.

I1 Diamond Pricing and Chart

Diamond Clarity Chart Featuring Eight Diamonds of Varying Clarity With Inclusions Highlighted

Since I1 diamonds are more included than gems with higher clarity grades, they’re more affordable. But factors like color, shape, and cut quality can significantly impact pricing.

Let’s examine the following chart and see how much you should expect to pay for I1 diamonds.

DiamondApprox. Price
0.5-Carat Round Cut L Color$1,200
1-Carat Round Cut E Color$4,000
2-Carat Round Cut E Color$5,700
3-Carat Round Cut F Color$6,300
4-Carat Round Cut D Color$7,900
5-Carat Round Cut D Color$10,200
6-Carat Round Cut L Color$4,300

Besides clarity, the GIA also gives out ratings based on color. Colorless diamonds fall into the D-F bracket. They’re rare, high-quality stones that feature a clear, icy look. As we’ve seen in the above chart, the two D color entries are the most expensive, while the E- and F-rated gems follow closely behind.

G-H and I-J color stones are nearly colorless. It’s challenging to discern faint traces of color in these diamonds, making them a great value for the money.

Although gems in the L-Z range are the most budget-friendly, they have a noticeable yellow coloring, making them an undesirable option for many.

If you don’t have much experience with diamonds, remember that the prices decrease the further you go down the alphabet. So, if you have a tight budget, it may be better to go for a G color grade than a D color grade.

Color is more discernible in larger diamonds. For example, if you’re interested in an I1 clarity gem under 1 carat, you may want to choose a J, K, or I color option. But if you want more than 1 carat, aim for an H color grade or higher to get the best value.

Is It a Good Idea to Buy an I1 Clarity Diamond?

If you’re on the fence about buying an I1 clarity diamond, you need to consider the benefits and drawbacks. Once you have enough information, you can make the final decision.

The Pros of Buying an I1 Clarity Diamond

Woman Wearing A Diamond and Ruby Wedding Band And Holding A Flower

These diamonds are suitable for small stones on a pave line. If your desired carat weight is under 0.5, you don’t have to strain your budget by going for a higher clarity grade. The gem will be small and delicate, and no one will be able to notice any flaws. I1 diamonds look stunning in tennis bracelets, and you can leverage what you save on clarity to improve other qualities. Not bad for a gem whose clarity is at the bottom of the barrel.

The Cons of Buying an I1 Clarity Diamond

woman wearing diamond engagement ring with large prong-set diamond on delicate band

I1 diamonds have significant drawbacks. Unless you’ve handled gems before, you may not know how to identify inclusions. Instead of buying a stunning engagement ring, you’ll end up with a lackluster stone. Fortunately, you can ensure you make the best choice by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. Our team has years of experience matching customers with the gems that fit their needs. One of our experts will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you’re determined to get an engagement ring at a reasonable price, a VS2, SI1, or SI2 stone might be a better choice. If the gem is eye-clean, you’ll pay significantly less than you would for an FL diamond. Of course, finding this blend of beauty and affordability depends on carat weight and stone shape. We recommend pairing a VS2 or SI1 stone with a round or princess cut. If you want a larger diamond, aim for a VS1 or VS2 clarity grade for the optimal combo of beauty and value.

Types of Inclusions in an I1 Clarity Diamond

Inclusions are flaws that occur in diamonds. Virtually all gems have some type of inclusion. Some only affect the stone’s surface and are called blemishes. Others are more prominent and reach the diamond’s inner structure. Here are the most common inclusions in I1 clarity stones.


Diamond with crystal inclusion highlighted by red circle

A crystal inclusion refers to a small mineral crystal embedded within a diamond. Depending on the nature of the minerals, crystals may be colorless, red, black, or green. Colored inclusions degrade the gem’s appearance, so you should always aim for colorless imperfections. They’ll bring down the price but won’t be as noticeable.


Diamond with cloud inclusion highlighted by a red circle

Cloud inclusions refer to a group of crystals or pinpoints dotted closely together. Cloud inclusions can sometimes negatively affect a stone’s visual appeal. For example, when the clouds are too big, the diamond will have an unsightly, hazy appearance. When diffused, clouds aren’t an issue and don’t impact light transmission properties.


Diamond with feather inclusion highlighted by a red circle

Feathers are small cracks or fractures within the stone. Depending on the viewing angle, a feather could be transparent and nearly unnoticeable or have a whitish appearance when it catches the light.

Severe feathers cause durability concerns. If you’re interested in a diamond with feather inclusions near the girdle or surface, consider choosing another option. Similarly, avoid feathers with an unsightly color.

Twinning Wisps

Diamond with twinning wisps inclusions highlighted by red circles

Twinning wisps occur during a diamond’s development phase. The gem grows in one direction but abruptly stops due to unfavorable circumstances. When it continues developing in a new direction, twinning wisps appear. These inclusions are a cluster of clouds, pinpoints, or crystals.


Diamond with pinpoint inclusion highlighted by a red circle

Pinpoints are black or white crystals inside a diamond that mimic small dots.


Diamond with graining inclusion highlighted by a red circle

Graining results from irregular crystal development. Internal graining looks like faint streaks and gives the gem a hazy or milky appearance. More severe inclusions could resemble reflections or creases.

What to Consider About I1 Clarity Inclusions

delicate engagement ring featuring round center diamond and pear shaped side diamonds

While many I1 diamonds have visible inclusions, no two imperfections are identical. An inclusion’s severity depends on its position, size, number, color, and relief.

  • Position: The inclusion’s position is arguably the most important aspect when determining whether you should invest in a diamond. If the flaw is in the center, you may be able to spot it without a jeweler’s loupe. Imperfections on the periphery are more subtle, and you can hide them with a stunning setting.
  • Size: How large the inclusion is compared to the diamond’s dimensions also influences appearance and pricing.
  • Number: The more imperfections there are, the more challenging it is to mask them with a gold or silver setting.
  • Color: The inclusion’s color impacts clarity. Lighter inclusions may be unnoticeable, while darker flaws may be visible to the naked eye.
  • Relief: Relief refers to contrast. White or clear blemishes might not degrade the gem’s appearance. But darker inclusions, like graphite crystals, can affect its beauty and brilliance. As a rule of thumb, you should look for inclusions that match the stone’s refractive index and color. Diamonds with clear or white inclusions typically have low contrast or relief levels.

Good Inclusions in an I1 Clarity Diamond

diamond halo engagement ring and topdown view of round I1 clarity diamond

Since most diamonds have inclusions, you may think it’s impossible to find a perfect gem. But that’s not the case. Some imperfections are barely noticeable, so the stone will appear eye-clean.

  • White: White or transparent flaws have the least impact on a diamond’s sparkle, brilliance, and clarity. Only consider an I1 gem if the inclusions are close to its color.
  • Away From the Center: Imperfections and blemishes on the sides of a stone are challenging to spot. To refine the diamond’s appearance, you can choose a stunning setting to mask the inclusions.
  • Small: Small, spread-out inclusions shouldn’t impact a gem’s beauty and durability much.

Bad Inclusions in an I1 Clarity Diamond

Large square diamond engagement ring with unique floral diamond halo

While a minor flaw shouldn’t discourage you from investing in a gorgeous I1 gem, you should steer clear of the following inclusions.

  • Dark: Dark imperfections stand out and ruin the diamond’s clarity and look.
  • Centered: Even if you don’t have a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe, you can easily spot inclusions near the center of the stone.
  • Large: Large cracks, crystals, or blemishes are difficult to miss, especially when dotted closely together.

The Best Shapes for I1 Clarity Diamonds

Included diamonds can look just as stunning and brilliant as their flawless counterparts if you choose the appropriate shape. Let’s see which shapes are best for lower-clarity diamonds.

Round Cut

top-down view of round-cut diamond with I1 clarity

The traditional round brilliant cut is by far the most popular diamond shape and with good reason. It’s timeless and masks inclusions well, regardless of the diamond’s clarity grade. It’s no wonder that approximately two-thirds of gems on the market come in this elegant shape. The refined cut ensures maximum light reflection, enhancing the stone’s brilliance. A round diamond is an excellent option for engagement rings, necklaces, and similar eye-catching pieces.

Princess Cut

top-down view of diamond with I1 clarity and a princess cut

The princess cut comes in second in the popularity race. It’s trendy, beautiful, and seamlessly masks imperfections. The square shape brings out the diamond’s fire and brilliance more effectively than similar shapes. Most expert jewelers recommend setting all four corners with prongs to keep the edges damage-free. The prongs will hide the inclusions, so you can pick a princess-cut diamond with inclusions near the edges.

Radiant Cut

top-down view of diamond with I1 clarity and a radiant cut

Radiant cuts became popular during the 1980s and are still appreciated for their brilliance. It has multiple facets in the crown and pavilion that improve the gem’s fire and brilliance. Another benefit of this shape is that it’s suitable for most color grades. Customers can save money on the color grade and invest in cut quality. Since radiants feature many angles and facets, they almost resemble cracked ice.

How to Buy a Loose I1 Diamond

Loose round cut Diamond set on wooden surface

If you’re still deciding which setting you like the most, you may be thinking about purchasing a loose I1 diamond.

Many jewelry shops have set up online stores, and you can quickly browse their extensive inventory. However, for many people, online shopping can be overwhelming. If you’ve never bought diamonds before, the seemingly countless options could confuse you and ruin the experience. Plus, all diamonds look the same to the untrained eye. You don’t want to spend time and money on a diamond with visible imperfections.

Think about the qualities your I1 loose diamond should have. Reputable vendors have built-in search filters you can use to narrow your search. Or, you could contact the jeweler and send them your list of criteria. They’ll use the information to find an I1 clarity diamond that checks all the boxes.

I1 vs. I2

top-down view of round I1 and I2 diamonds side by side

Although I1 and I2 diamonds are close on the clarity scale, I1 gems are considered slightly superior. Both have visible inclusions, but the flaws are more noticeable in the I2 category. For example, the inclusions could be close to each other or have a dark coloring. Consequently, many customers avoid I2 gems, and some vendors don’t even carry them.

With I1 diamonds, you’re more likely to find an eye-clean option. It may have several flaws, but they won’t be next to each other. Also, they may have a light color and won’t affect the stone’s beauty. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an eye-clean I2 diamond. Although they’re more budget-friendly, the severity of the inclusions makes I2 gems an unwise investment.

I1 vs. SI2

top-down view of round I1 and SI2 diamonds side by side

Compared to SI2 gems, their I1 counterparts are more affordable. While finding an eye-clean I1 diamond is more challenging, an expert could help you buy a beautiful piece and save on clarity. Unless you’ve found a top-quality I1 diamond, we recommend going for a slightly more expensive but just as stunning SI2 option.

Top 7 Insider Tips and Tricks for Buying an I1 Clarity Diamond

If you’re unsure how to shop for an I1 clarity diamond, the following insider tips will help make the experience stress-free.

1. Consider Sizing Down

very small diamond engagement ring on finger

You can spot inclusions easily in large diamonds, so why not choose a delicate stone under 0.5 carats? It’s dazzling and more affordable, and you may even forget it has imperfections.

2. Inspect the Certificate

GIA Certificate close up with diamond cut and quality information

Always ask to view the GIA certificate. The document confirms the gem’s clarity rating and describes other important features.

3. Buy an Antique Diamond

antique diamond ring with diamond halo and blue sapphire accents

If possible, invest in an antique ring with an I1 diamond. They’re rare, and diamond enthusiasts and collectors will gladly offer a lot of money for such a unique piece.

4. Work With a Reliable Company

Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom Jewelry Display Case

Unfortunately, not all jewelry vendors care for their customers. You may fall for a scam and purchase an unsightly stone unless you select a reputable company. Only work with a vendor with a proven track record.

5. Find Promo Codes and Discounts

Person Using Phone To Look At Estate Diamond Jewelry Promo Code

Although I1 diamonds have a lower clarity rating, they’re still expensive. Many vendors have promo codes that help customers save up to 15%. You could ask for a discount if you can’t find an active code. A friendly demeanor and negotiating skills will ensure you get the diamond of your choice at a lower price.

6. Make Sure the Cut Is Right

platinum ring with round center diamond and diamond-set triple-split shoulders

As we mentioned, the right shape or cut works wonders for IS1 diamonds. Avoid step-cuts like baguettes and opt for a round, princess, or radiant cut.

7. Look at Images and Videos

Woman Using Laptop to Look At Estate Diamond Jewelry Engagement Ring Details

Check the vendor’s website and see if they offer detailed imaging of their diamonds. This will give you an idea of what the gem looks like under day-to-day circumstances.

Guide to Purchasing an I1 Clarity Diamond Ring

Customer Trying on Vintage Engagement Rings in Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom

When purchasing an I1 clarity diamond ring, consider the following.

  • Remember that most I1 gems have visible inclusions, so it may take some time before you find an eye-clean option
  • Look for a diamond with a round, radiant, or princess cut
  • Make sure the inclusions aren’t near the center of the stone
  • Ask the vendor if they can mail you the ring. You can see what it looks like in person and make an informed decision.

Talk to a Diamond Expert

expert jeweler helping customer in Estate Diamond Jewelry showroom

Estate Diamond Jewelry has been in the business for over 40 years, and our guiding principle is customer satisfaction. Fill out the contact form below and our expert will get back to you as soon as possible.


About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.