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I2 Diamond Guide

An I2 diamond is considered a low clarity grade, meaning that compared to eye-clean diamonds with crystal-clear perfection (such as flawless diamonds), an I2 gem can be visibly duller. But that doesn’t have to dull the excitement of buying a diamond. While we’re not going to cover up their flaws (though their flaws can be covered — more on that later), we’ll give you a full take on I2 diamonds so you can make an informed decision when purchasing.

What’s the meaning of I2 diamond clarity?

I2 is the second-lowest grade possible when it comes to diamond clarity. An I2 diamond falls in the Included range, which means I2 is considered a cloudier diamond in the industry. The inclusions are internal discs and dots that block light, so this clarity grade is not as fiery as a pure diamond and it doesn’t make quite the same sparkly spectacle.

But before you get completely discouraged, know that almost all diamonds have inclusions. It’s just about how easy they are to spot when a jeweler play’s Where’s Waldo? with your gem under a microscope.

Here’s an expert’s diamond transparency rubric:

A next-to-last diamond is not necessarily bad news (there are ways around visible inclusions). The truth is, the first three clarity grades are rare. Diamonds without “imperfections” are extremely hard to come by because inclusions — aka little extras — are internalized as the diamond is formed in the upper mantle of the Earth’s crust. All that heat forces the diamond to come together, pressuring its surroundings to be gathered up in its glittering, gorgeous body (or not-so-glittering, in this case). Inclusions are natural, not mistakes. Even lab grown diamonds have inclusions.

Is I1 or I2 clarity better?

I2 is the mid-range diamond in the lowest clarity grade; it contains more, bigger, or darker inclusions than I1 and fewer, smaller, or lighter inclusions than I3.

Included diamonds are the bottom tier as far as transparency. And then 1-3 is the hierarchy, or more finite grade levels, within this group. In this case, I1 is the most desirable purity ranking out of Included diamonds and I3 is the least (and technically the least valuable diamond of all based on clarity). The size and amount of inclusions are what factor into these smaller differentiations of clearness. Centered and clustered inclusions, for example, stand out the most.

Is I2 clarity good in a diamond?

If clarity is your priority in jewelry, avoid I2 diamonds. We love fine gemstones, but it’s common to observe the impact on brilliance in I2 and I3 diamonds.

Clarity affects how a diamond sparkles, so the fewer and smaller the inclusions, the brighter your gem. The inclusions in an I2 diamond are readily apparent, so this type of diamond tends to have a clouded or chipped appearance. And depending on the type of inclusion, it can cause your diamond to be more breakable.

The good news? This is a budget-friendly gem. But I1’s are also affordable and come with a bit more shine (and the potential for a slightly longer lifespan).

Are I2 diamonds worth anything?

A finer I2 diamond can still sell for $2-3,000. Yes, I2 diamonds are at the near-bottom of the clarity scale, but that doesn’t have to mean they’re bottom of the barrel. In the clarity sequence, I1 is more valuable than I2 and I3, in that order. However, many experts (including us) will warn against shopping below an I1 so you have the best chance of the most durable diamond.

The density and location of inclusions in an I2 diamond result in light that’s not scattered as effectively as gems with greater purity. Even though clarity comes after cut when determining a diamond’s price, it’s still a major factor. Light performance is much of what makes a gem mesmerizing and therefore valuable. It’s basically a miniature light show, but instead of lasers and fireworks, it’s rays refracting from a piece of the Earth. Inclusions get in the way of this sought-after glow, but not all inclusions are made equal, which is why I2 diamonds are worth more than I3.

Certain diamond cuts and engagement ring settings can improve the appearance of I2 diamonds. More on that later. For quick reference: avoid emerald and asscher cut I2 diamonds altogether. They highlight inclusions.

Do I2 Diamonds Have Any Value in Jewelry?

Any? Yes. A lot? No. I2 diamonds are less expensive because of their inclusions, but their lack of clarity is what diminishes the value. That being said, we offer a few tips for getting the best deal possible in the next section.

To give you a “clearer” picture of what to expect, the most common inclusions you’ll see in I2 diamonds are dots (pinpoints), and cracks (feathers). The latter is occasionally known to impact a diamond’s composition and lead to fragility. However, diamonds are among the tougher gems, so these cracks aren’t typically cause for concern as long as they’re relatively small and don’t reach the outside. Physical concern, at least.

“Blemish,” for example, refers more to external imperfections, which usually come from everyday wear or a loose setting, so they’ll affect worth later on after purchase. Inclusions are born with the gem and these are what impact the initial clarity grade.

When you want quality that doesn’t sacrifice value, begin your lab diamonds search at Brilliant Earth. You don’t have to overthink beauty on a budget.

Tips for Purchasing a Diamond with a Lower Clarity Grade

A lot more goes into a diamond’s radiance than its transparency. So take comfort knowing that if you’re shopping at the lower end of the clarity spectrum to save on price, it doesn’t necessarily mean your gem’s appearance is ruined.

But if your biggest fear about shopping for a lower clarity diamond is the visible presence of imperfections, inclusions can be hidden by a few more of the 4Cs. Mainly, it’s important to review a diamond’s carat, color, cut, and shape. With those in mind, here are a few ways to disguise a diamond with more inclusions:

All that aside, if budget is your main concern, we recommend seeing our full Anatomy of a Ring Guide and Diamond Buying Guide for additional shopping tips to explore your options. Learn about each of the 4Cs to find the perfect fit for you or your partner. We’ll help.

Final Thoughts

If you’re shopping for a diamond to gift yourself, the best part is that you can determine your jewelry’s personal worth. Whether you’re seeking internal perfection or perfectly imperfect, you can shop all diamonds at Brilliant Earth for ethically sourced fine jewelry.

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