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Not all diamonds are perfect. Some do not fit people’s expectations of being flawless and brilliant, making them less valuable and appealing. First-time buyers who prioritize price over quality fall trap into buying diamonds with poor features.
Picking a diamond for your beloved fiancé is a rigorous journey. The last thing you want is to buy one that will disappoint rather than impress her. Thus, you have to find out which diamonds are good and bad among all the choices you have in the market.
A perfect example of stones with poor features is those falling in the I2 clarity grade. Most, if not all, jewelers do not even make these pieces available in their stores. How bad are I2 diamonds to be avoided by experts?
Below are all the details you will need why you must steer clear of diamonds with I2 clarity grade.
Table of Contents
The Basics: Clarity and the I2 Classification
Assessing a diamond is not an easy task. Only experts from reliable gemological institutes can evaluate a diamond’s quality. There are four elements considered before one can conclude if it should be priced higher or lower.
These elements are known as the 4Cs of diamonds. They are carat weight, cut, color, and clarity. Colorless and colored diamonds follow the same principles, except for color. The latter has a different standard grade for it since the color’s vividness is a top priority.
Clarity has a major contribution to a diamond’s value. A diamond’s flaws are called inclusions, blemishes, or imperfections. Some flaws are more apparent than others. That is why it is important to check if a stone is eye-clean or not.
Imperfections in a diamond are inevitable, especially for those pieces that were naturally grown. The reason for this occurrence is the extreme condition and pressure that diamonds undergo during their formation. They are subjected to an environment at least 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 miles below the earth’s crust.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) follows a clarity chart when assessing a diamond. It has ten major classifications, which are the following:
- Flawless – FL
- Internally Flawless – IF
- Very Very Small Inclusions 1 – VVS1
- Very Very Small Inclusions 2 – VVS2
- Very Small Inclusions 1 – VS1
- Very Small Inclusions 2 – VS2
- Small Inclusions 1 – SI1
- Small Inclusions 2 – SI2
- Inclusions 1 – I1
- Inclusions 2 – I2
Each classification is divided into two degrees, depending on the amount and placement of inclusions in a diamond. That is why you will find the following terms in a GIA Report: FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, and I2.
FL is the clearest among all the categories. It indicates that the diamond has no flaws within and outside its walls. Thus, you can also expect it to have the highest price. Next to it are those with Internally Flawless qualities. It still has minute blemishes, but they are only external.
The VVS group is still considered as the higher-ranking clarity grade because its blemishes are microscopic. They look blemish-free from a wearer’s perspective, and it will take up to 63x magnification before needles and knots become visible. This group comprises only 5% of the total number of diamonds in the market, making them as rare as FL and IF.
Jewelers recommend VS and SI groups the most. Their blemishes may be apparent, but it requires 10x magnification before they appear, although some are quite visible in specific diamond shapes. Moreover, they have way lesser price than the first groups mentioned, checking quality and affordability for people who are on a tighter budget.
The I group is the least preferred in the chart because people do not like diamonds with the most imperfections. Their inclusions are eye-visible and larger than the other categories without magnification, making their price less valuable. It is also the reason why most jewelers do not sell these pieces in the market.
If you check on some trusted diamond companies, like James Allen and Blue Nile, you will notice that their filter options begin in I1, leaving all I2 diamonds behind the curtains. However, some shopping platforms, such as E-bay, sell these pieces. However, the assurance of its credibility is uncertain, unlike those sold in legitimate diamond retailers.
You do not need to look closer at the diamond because its clarity even affects its entire brilliance. Some look grayish than white, and the shadows within the stone are more visible. Forget about getting a larger diamond with this clarity grade because it will worsen the whole experience.
The only time that I2 diamonds become relevant is when they are used as side-stones. These stones are too small to notice the blemishes found in them, such as carbon clusters, graining, and black features.
With the inclusions group falling in the least of the ranks, you have far better options in the VS and SI categories. If you are worried about their price, you will learn in the following sections how to shop for a diamond that will suit your budget without compromising its quality.
I2 Diamonds vs. Other Clarity Ratings
Most diamond retailers do not carry an I2 diamond with them because it has the clarity chart’s least quality. Yet, some platforms still make these pieces available online since their price is quite minimal than the rest.
The closest grade to I2 is the I1 grade. Both have eye-visible blemishes, but the latter has pieces available because their blemishes are not as large and disturbing as I2. Moreover, I1’s inclusions are typically located in the diamond’s pavilion, but some are in the table area.
On the left is a round-shaped diamond from Brilliance with a 1.5-carat weight, Ideal cut, and color I grade. The right photo is a James Allen product with the same qualities but has an I1 clarity.
As you can see, I2’s blemishes are situated at the center, which kills the stone’s elegance. The wearer would be distracted because her focus will be on the scratches rather than on the diamond’s beauty. On the other hand, I1’s blemishes are still apparent, but they are not as large as those in I2. Some are still found at the center, but they are thinner and less distracting.
When it comes to pricing, I1 has a higher market rate than I2 because of its quality difference. James Allen’s product costs around $6,000, while the other is only around $4,000.
Diamond connoisseurs suggest that the clarity’s safest threshold is SI1 if you want a piece for the best value. They are not as affordable as I2, but the quality is way better. Below is another James Allen diamond with SI1 clarity. Notice how it looks more affluent and stunning than the I2 diamond. It still has blemishes, but they are less detectable and look more eye-clean than the former.
James Allen’s diamond has an acceptable price of almost $8,000, given its weight and physical attributes. If you go further to VS2 diamonds, it may run from $10,000 and up.
Whether it is for an engagement ring or a casual gift to your significant other, a diamond ring should be at its finest quality. You do not need to buy the most expensive one to buy the best, but purchasing the least expensive ones also comes with certain consequences.
Now that you have learned about I2 clarity, you must begin clearing this off from your filter options.
The Drawbacks in Picking a Diamonds With I2 Clarity Grade
Some people buy a loose diamond for a ring, while others buy them for investment purposes. Diamonds falling in the I classifications are recommended in neither of the two due to their poor qualities.
Clarity may not be the most significant factor in a diamond’s beauty, but its imperfections lessen its value. We kept on reiterating that I2 diamonds are not the ideal picks in the market, and here are the whys to these claims.
#1. The Imperfections Are Visible
Assessing a diamond’s clarity undergoes three stages. First, they are evaluated from the naked eye. If they look clean, they are labeled as flawless. If they do not, they are branded as “I,” and most of them do not reach the mainstream market.
The next stages are the 10x and 63x magnification. Only those with VVS, IF, and FL qualities can reach the final assessment. SI and VS diamonds show their blemishes at the second stage.
I2 diamonds’ imperfections are too visible that you will notice them every time you look at the diamond. Its wearer becomes extra conscious when another person tries to look at the main stone because of its unlikable appearance.
#2. It Lacks Brilliance
If you notice on the diamonds we featured earlier, the one with an I2 quality is not as sparkling and brilliant as the other pieces. Its inclusions have a major contribution to its dull appearance.
Imperfections block the path of light, resulting in more shadows than luminosity. The larger the imperfections are, the grayer and cloudier a diamond becomes. That is why people who have the extra dollars splurge on stones with higher clarity grades since they have the maximum brilliance.
This kind of luxury that you are expecting from a diamond is not found in I2. It would only disappoint you, especially that its price is not as cheap as those gemstones found in fashion rings.
#3. Little to No Trade-In or Resale Value
Investors will never pick a diamond from the I group. A diamond’s value is their top priority, and those items falling on the lowest ranks are liabilities than assets. Even diamond retailers go away with these pieces since only one out of ten people will prefer buying them.
Why would you invest in something that does not ensure any returns? If you are a collector or investor, it would be best to buy from the VVS, FL, and IF groups. Even VS and SI are unappealing to these individuals since they are ‘budget-friendly’ and not ‘investor-friendly.’
They go for rarity, and the cheapest ones go directly to trash bins.
#4. They Are Fragile
Apart from being a distraction, there is a further underlying concern when picking a diamond with more blemishes. Larger inclusions may weaken a stone’s structure, making it prone to damages and chipping. Thus, and I2 diamond is not as long-lasting as others on the higher scales.
While having the right metal band and setting may help protect it, the diamond will still wear out quickly in the long run. You may save a thousand dollars in this category, but is it worth the disappointment you will get from its quality?
Tips on How to Find Diamonds Within Your Budget Limit
The most common misconception about diamonds is that only the rich can afford one. While there are no cheap diamonds, there are pieces that are more affordable than others. With thousands of options, you will probably find an item that will suit your budget.
Does it mean you have to settle with the least qualities? The answer is no. What it means is you have to be an informed and smart shopper if you want to land on the best deals out there. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind before checking out a diamond.
#1. Pick a Trustworthy Diamond Retail Shop
Online is the new marketplace today. You can find anything in just a single tap on the search engine, including diamonds. With several jewelry shops popping in the market, how would you know they are trustworthy?
You can bank on client reviews on this matter. Try to look for the most popular jewelry shops online, and you might come across names such as James Allen, Blue Nile, Ritani, and Madewell. These companies promise premium quality items at the least prices because of the business model they follow.
Time can also be an excellent ground in assessing a retailer’s track record. Some have been operating since the internet is not yet a thing to most people. Their existence will give you an idea that people keep on coming back because of their quality services.
#2. Learn the Basics of Diamonds
We mentioned earlier that a diamond’s quality is assessed based on 4Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Each has a corresponding valuation that you must familiarize. You have already learned about clarity.
Cut has the most significant contribution to a diamond’s brilliance because it is all about symmetry and proportions. Thus, if you find one with an ideal cut, you can expect it to be more expensive than those with Very Good and Good ratings only.
The absence of color also makes a diamond more expensive. Like clarity, it has a chart that corresponds to a stone’s worth. The safest thresholds fall in the near-colorless grades: G, H, I, and J. Going for D, E, and F, or K and below would mean a higher or lower cost.
Finally, a carat weight dictates the amount of diamond you have. Some may look larger because of their shapes, but they are lighter and less valuable.
#3. Study How to Balance a Diamond’s Element for the Best Price
It will help if you know your preference and priorities. Do you value color over a cut? Do you look into its clarity over its size? By identifying these, you will know how to balance one quality over others.
For example, picking 1.5-carat weight with an Ideal cut, color D grade, and FL clarity would have a whopping $50,000. However, if you settle with a color G or a VS clarity, it may go down to $10,000. Are you getting a less brilliant piece? No, you are not because diamonds in these scales are eye-clean and looks colorless.
It is quite impractical to pay for more on a feature that you can get for less. The key here is having a sound judgment when assessing a piece.
The Verdict: Is I2 Diamonds Worth the Price?
The answer is obvious. Choosing a diamond with an I2 clarity grade is not worthy of the price. Yes, it has the least expensive price on the chart, but its qualities are way too poor to become an engagement ring’s centerpiece.
People nowadays prefer eye-clean diamonds with friendlier prices over those with an unbelievable per-carat amount. However, I2’s blemishes are too visible in the naked eye that they only deserve as side-stones in a ring.
Another thing that makes it less impressive is its fragile quality because of its large inclusions. Average buyers and investors will never prefer this piece. That is why most diamond retailers do not include an I2 diamond in their collection. Their reputation is more valuable than an I2’s worth.
If you plan to buy a diamond with the best qualities and are not too expensive, it is best to settle with VS and SI diamonds. They have inclusions that are only visible when magnified 10x. If you opt to go higher, VVS diamonds are excellent options, too, since their inclusions are only microscopic.
Any diamonds falling to the I category in clarity are never worthy of the price you will pay. They look dull, grayish, and they lack the brilliance that you would expect from a diamond.