Included1 (I1) Diamonds – Are they any good?

When doing your research for your perfect diamond purchase you will most likely have read about specific ways to get the biggest bang for your buck.

One of these ways includes going down in diamond clarity.

So, does it pay to go as low as an I1 diamond clarity grade? Let's find out together!

Why could it be a good idea to go for an I1 diamond?

To answer that question let us have a look at the general rules about diamond clarity. Let's get to the roots and begin with VS2 diamonds.

Now, if you know some of the general rules about diamond clarity you will know that a VS2 diamond graded by GIA or AGS is virtually always eye clean:

    • Absolutely eye clean VS2 diamond
    • Borderline VS2 diamond

(All pictures are courtesy of James Allen)

As you can see the VS2 diamond on the left is definitely eye clean. On the right hand side I have chosen a particularly bad VS2 diamond. I had to search for quite some time to find such a bad VS2 diamond. This particular VS2 diamond may or may not be eye clean in real life. In my opinion it is one of those borderline cases where some people with really good eyes will be able to make out the inclusions and others won't.

But all in all it can very safely be said that a VS2 diamond graded by GIA can be nearly guaranteed to be eye clean.

So what about SI1 and SI2 diamonds?

These are the ones that are considered to be the magic zone of getting the biggest bang for your buck! Sometimes they are eye clean and sometimes they are not! It is much easier to find an eye clean SI1 diamond than an eye clean SI2 diamonds but it is definitely possible:

    • Example of a SI1 diamond that is not eye clean
    • Example of an eye clean SI1 diamond

I have written a more extensive post on how to choose an eye clean SI1 diamond that might be interesting for some readers. In it I have also described how exactly you go about determining whether a specific inclusion you can see on a magnified image or video can actually be seen with your bare eyes.

In this context I would like stess the importance of looking at the diamond before buying it. Only very few diamond online vendors will allow you to view the diamond in high definition 360° videos. In my opinion James Allen is currently the best vendor for viewing very diamonds closely from all sides. You can even view them in 40x magnification! Brian Gavin is also quite good for that.

With SI2 diamonds it is more difficult to find an eye clean diamond but it is also possible if you have take a good look around:

    • Dirty (Not eye clean) SI2 diamond
    • Eye clean SI2 diamond

So, if you can find an eye clean SI2 diamond why shouldn't you be able to find an eye clean I1 diamond? It is only one clarity grade worse, right?

At this point however I would like to remind you of GIA's official clarity grade explanation:

  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

So, if “Included” diamonds (I1, I2 and I3) can affect transparency and brilliance it sounds as though this might be the case for I2 or I3 diamonds. But there should surely be some eye clean I1 diamonds, right?

Thus, couldn't it be a really good idea to get an I1 diamonds to get the really biggest bang for your buck imaginable?

Do eye clean I1 diamonds exist?

To put it short: Yes, eye clean I1 diamonds do exist!

Thus, if you are really serious and committed about getting the biggest bang for your buck an I1 diamond might be your very best choice!

Now, I usually only recommend to go for VS2, ,SI1 and SI2 diamonds to get the biggest bang for your buck. The reason is quite simply the fact that the risk with an I1 diamond is high that it won't be eye clean.

But with some commitment you will certainly be able to do it! Please be aware though that the I1 clarity grade is really the very last clarity grade where eye clean diamonds can still be found – and even then only with some searching and digging on your part. I2 and I3 diamonds are NEVER eye clean and this is why you should definitely avoid I2 and I3 diamonds.

Example of eye clean and not eye clean I1 diamonds

Below you can see two I1 diamonds that are definitely not eye clean:

    • Not eye clean I1 diamond
    • Another I1 diamond that is not eye clean

It is pretty obvious that the two dark crystal inclusions will be visible to the naked eye. It is a general rule that dark crystal inclusions should be avoided. Oftentimes the same crystal inclusion would not be visible to the naked eye if it only were a white crystal inclusion.

Furthermore, all I1 diamonds that look obviously “overall dirty” on a magnified picture will not be eye clean in real life either:

    • Overall dirty I1 diamond that is not eye clean
    • Another overall dirty I1 diamond that is not eye clean

Both diamonds above will not be eye clean. Thus, I1 diamonds that look overall dirty even without any concentration of darker inclusions in one particular spot should also be avoided.

So what kind of I1 diamonds should you choose?

You should go for I1 diamonds in which the inclusions are either whitish or hardly different than the diamond material itself. On the pictures below you can see a diamond and a corresponding clarity plot from the grading report:

    • Eye clean I1 diamond
    • Clarity plot of the same diamond

If you look at the diamond itself it seems unbelievable that the the clarity plot on the right actually belongs to the same diamond! The two crystal inclusions that are mapped by a circle in the clarity plot cannot be made out at all! Only if you look at the diamond very closely in 40x magnification will you be able to see that both crystl inclusions actually have the same color as the diamond itself. Such an I1 diamond is the best possible option you can go for!

That does not only apply to crystal inclusions but also to feather and twinning wisps inclusions. The number of feathers or twinning wisps can even be higher but as long as they don't stand out too much from the overall diamond it will be alright:

    • Eye clean I1 diamond with twinning wisps
    • Clarity plot of the same I1 diamond

Make sure to have a close look at every I1 diamond before buying it!

Conclusion in regards to I1 diamonds

Thus, although many people don't know about it: Eye clean I1 diamonds do exist!

It requires an increased degree of browsing and searching but anyone committed to finding an eye clean I1 diamond can do it!

I1 diamonds are truly the maximum as far as getting the biggest bang for your buck is concerned. It is the right choice for anyone willing to do the proper research and being committed to saving as much money as possible.

Remember to only buy an I1 diamond from a place where you can have an extremely thorough look at the diamond. With its 40x magnification and its 360° videos James Allen is currently my top recommended place for that. Go and browse for I1 diamonds at James Allen now!

If you should have a specific question about the eye cleanliness of an I1 diamond or any related question I will be more than glad to help you out. Just leave me a comment or drop me a mail!

Included1 (I1) Diamonds – Are they any good?
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About 

Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.