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What Does I1 Clarity Really Mean?

There are 4 main Clarity Ratings for Diamonds on the Diamond Market:

I Clarity

SI Clarity

VS Clarity

VVS Clarity

There are also Internally Flawless and Flawless Diamonds, but they rarely hit the market and are normally collectors pieces that sell for huge amounts of money. So for this blog, we’ll stick to one of the most popular Clarity Ranges.

And that Clarity Range is…

I Clarity Diamonds

Why? Because I Clarity Diamonds make up half the market.

The I Clarity Range has 3 Categories: I1, I2 and I3.

I1 is at the high end of the I Clarity Range, while I3 is the lowest Clarity you can buy on the Market today (See Picture for Comparison).

One Inclusion

I1 Clarity does not mean it has 1 inclusion like some people think. I Clarity Diamonds means that it has Eye-Visible Inclusions in it.

This actually means that you can look at an I Clarity Diamond and see Flaws in it. Flaws like; marks, blemishes, spots, pepper, clouds and lines. You can actually see them with the naked eye. You won’t need a 10x Jewelers Loupe to see them, they are that obvious. Nothing really wrong with I Clarity, just as long as you know what it is you’re buying!

I Clarity Stones are Pretty Popular. I mean, most Diamonds have Flaws in them anyway. I Clarity just has larger ones that are visible.

Like People, we have birthmarks, moles, freckles that identify us. I Clarity Diamonds are no different. Diamond Flaws can look like big cloudy areas, black spots, or some flaws even look like huge cracks or chips. If you look at a Diamond, from the top down, and see things inside of it, it’s an I Clarity Diamond… no question there!

Some SI2 Diamonds have visible flaws also, but normally only visible from the side view!

The I1 range is at the upper end of the I Clarity Range. If you are buying a Diamond in the I Clarity Range, I1 Diamonds are the best to get.

Can you get really great looking I1 Clarity Diamonds?

The Answer to that Question is YES!

Yes, you can get some great looking I Clarity Diamonds. I’ve seen some I1 Clarity Diamonds that face up so well that they look like SI2 Clarity Diamonds (The next Clarity Rating up).


Some Certificate Companies (like EGL) have actually added another Clarity Rating for these so-called great looking Diamonds, calling them SI3’s!

This is basically saying that the Diamond is really too good to be considered an I Clarity Diamond, but not good enough to be an SI2. It’s a border-line Diamond that really should be called an I1 Clarity Diamond, cause that’s what it is!

Bionic Eyes

Most Jewelers and certificate companies live by a simple rule of thumb. If you can see inclusions with the naked eye (top down) then it’s an I Clarity Diamond. End of discussion. I firmly agree. (Even though some people with what I would call “bionic eyes“, can see inclusions in a SI1 Stone! I have to Loupe it! It can happen!)

The I Clarity Range is actually one of the largest markets for Diamonds, since they make up 50% of all the Diamonds you see. So if you stopped half the people wearing Diamond rings today, and looked at their rings, chances are very good you’d see inclusions in them. It just goes to show you how rare it really is to get a Diamond with small invisible inclusions.

Where and How

Some people think that each Clarity Range has a specific amount of inclusions in them. Like they’ll think VS Clarity has 4 inclusions, SI 5, I Clarity 6, and so on. This is farthest from the truth. Inclusions are all based upon WHERE they lie in the Diamond and how big they are.

Now, I’ll step back a moment and say, an I Clarity Diamond COULD have 1 inclusion in it! It could. Chances are rare, but if that inclusion is big enough to spot with the naked eye, it could be the only thing keeping it from being rated a higher clarity diamond! Usually if there is only one inclusion that’s visible in the diamond, diamond cutters will try to remove that inclusion by cutting around it. This would result in cutting a smaller diamond, but one that’s higher quality.

How are larger Diamonds affected by I Clarity Diamonds?

Diamonds that are larger than 1 Carat in size are greatly affected by the 1 Clarity Range. And that’s because, when you get a Diamond that large, it’s much easier to see inclusions in it.

When you’re looking at a Half-Carat (.50) Diamond or a Quarter-Carat (.25) Diamond, the diamonds are so small that it’s difficult to see inclusions in them. But pull out a large One-Carat (1.00) diamond, and you’ll have no problems seeing those inclusions.

The Bigger the Stone…

The Bigger the stone, the easier the inclusions are to see!

Which also means, the bigger the stone, the more difficult it becomes to find a diamond without eye-visible inclusions in it. Hence, the price goes up! Higher clarity, means higher price! It’s tough to find really great quality in large Diamonds. It’s no wonder they hold their price so well!

So you’re looking at an I Clarity Diamond that faces up well, and you ask:

“Should I Buy it?”

The answer is “Maybe…!

I say this because there is so much more to purchasing a Diamond that just the Clarity alone. I1 Clarity Diamonds may be beautiful if you find the right one, but what about the Color and Cut? They also play an important role in the price of the Diamond.

You can compare two Diamonds side by side. Put an I1 Clarity Diamond that faces up well, and has good color, like F-G, up against a SI1 Clarity Diamond with K-L Color, and you’ll see a big difference. The lower Clarity Diamond will look better than the higher clarity diamond! It’s a good lesson to learn.

All of the 4 C’s affect the Beauty of a Diamond

If you find a really great looking I Clarity Diamond you can save hundreds and thousands of dollars. Most people don’t mind I Clarity Diamonds as long as they know they are I Clarity. As long as the inclusions are small, slight and not that obvious, people don’t mind in the least.

The bottom line comes down to YOU!

If you know what you’re buying, and know what you’re getting, and are happy with it, no problem!

After all, I Clarity Diamonds are only one grade away from the SI Clarity Range.

And sometimes that divide is a very fine line indeed.

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  1. A very truthful and educating article. I know a bit about diamonds and of what I know you are correct and truthful. There is more than just Clarity to a diamond. To me its a balancing act, one factor vs another to equal what you are looking for.

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