i3 Diamond Clarity – What Are They & Should You Buy One?

i3 Diamond Clarity – What Are They & Should You Buy One?

Curious about the enigmatic realm of I3 diamonds and contemplating their worthiness for purchase? Does their purported “bad rating” hold any truth?

Fear not, for this comprehensive compendium is your haven. Within this illuminating compendium, I shall unravel the most prominent inquiries surrounding I3 diamonds:

  • Are I3 diamonds suitable for adorning an engagement ring?
  • What is the significance of the I3 diamond clarity classification?
  • Do I3 diamonds possess commendable durability?

What is an I3 Diamond?

An I3 diamond refers to a diamond that bears the clarity designation of “included” within the realm of the diamond industry. Both natural and lab-grown diamonds inherently possess natural inclusions, which manifest during the intricate formation process of these exquisite gemstones.

Furthermore, certain inclusions may also manifest during the meticulous cutting and polishing stages. These occurrences are frequently attributed to minuscule crystals from other minerals becoming ensnared within the diamond as it undergoes growth.

Within the realm of naturally mined diamonds, a multitude of diverse inclusions exists. Lab-grown diamonds, although they also possess inclusions, are constrained to specific types due to the controlled laboratory setting. Natural diamond crystals frequently encapsulate various minerals aside from carbon. Conversely, lab-grown diamond crystals often exhibit needle-like inclusions primarily composed of graphite.

The visibility and prominence of discernible inclusions play a significant role in the comprehensive assessment of diamond quality, known as the 4Cs. Clarity, an essential component, denotes the level of flawlessness within a diamond. It stands as one of the four fundamental pillars influencing the overall value and pricing of a diamond.

Decoding the Diamond Clarity Scale

Crafted by the esteemed Gemological Institute of America, the diamond clarity scale stands as the universally embraced benchmark utilized by the vast majority of jewelry establishments to assess diamond clarity within the expansive diamond industry.

Comprised of five distinctive tiers and comprising a total of 11 grades, this meticulous scale ensures a comprehensive and precise evaluation of diamond clarity.

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Flawless(F) – Exemplifying the pinnacle of diamond clarity, the Flawless (F) tier stands unrivaled as the utmost echelon, encompassing a solitary grade within its domain. These extraordinary natural diamonds of flawless quality are truly an exquisite rarity, captivating the discerning eye with their unparalleled brilliance. Akin to a masterpiece, they remain devoid of any discernible inclusions, evading even the scrutiny of the most proficient and adept diamond graders.

Internally Flawless (IF): Concealed within these diamonds lie minuscule imperfections, discernible solely to the discerning gaze of a profoundly adept diamond grader. An exclusive subset, these internally flawless gems constitute a meager fraction, accounting for less than 0.5% of the exquisite natural diamonds found in the realm of exceptional quality.

RECOMMENDED: Buying Internally Flawless Diamonds

Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 & VVS2): Navigating the terrain of VVS diamond clarity, this domain is intricately subdivided into two distinct grades: VVS1 and VVS2. The disparities between these two classifications are infinitesimal, to say the least. To the untrained eye, these subtleties would likely elude even the most astute observer, for they are discernible only by those intimately acquainted with the nuances of these captivating gemstones.


A discerning evaluator of diamonds would assert that the VVS1 diamond exhibits fewer conspicuous imperfections when compared to its lower-grade counterpart. Remarkably subtle inclusions become discernible only when viewed under magnification of up to 10 times.

Very Slightly Included (VS1 & VS2): Similar to the VVS diamond category, the VS classification is further divided into two distinct tiers. Within this realm, VS1 diamonds possess more inconspicuous flaws compared to their VS2 counterparts. It is at this juncture that diamonds are deemed “eye-clean” for the first time.

The term “eye-clean” implies the absence of any inclusions that can be visually detected by the unaided eye. While exceedingly slight imperfections become discernible under 10x magnification for a skilled diamond grader, they remain inconspicuous to the naked eye.

RECOMMENDED: VS Clarity Diamonds (VS1 & VS2)

Slightly Included(SI1 & SI2): Diamonds classified as slightly included may exhibit a few discernible inclusions, perceptible both under direct observation and when viewed through magnification. However, it is worth noting that the SI1 tier occasionally encompasses eye-clean diamonds as well, where no visible inclusions manifest even upon close scrutiny.

Included(I1, I2, I3): Imperfections within this tier are observable with or without the aid of 10x magnification. Diamonds falling under this category showcase more conspicuous flaws compared to all the other clarity tiers, positioning them at the lowermost echelon of clarity quality.

RECOMMENDED: Are SI Diamonds Worth Buying?

Is an I3 Diamond Clarity Grade Suitable for an Engagement Ring?

Acquiring the topmost score on the clarity chart may not be an absolute requirement. Nevertheless, it is undeniably undesirable to find oneself in possession of the lowest grade on the clarity chart. The lowest clarity grades are attributed to diamonds labeled as I3.

Although the presence of visible inclusions doesn’t necessarily imply a negative aspect, it is crucial to note that diamonds classified as I3, due to their high inclusion count, can significantly hinder the radiance and aesthetic appeal of the diamond. I3 diamonds are widely acknowledged for their abundance of dark inclusions. Conversely, diamonds with superior clarity generally exhibit a higher prevalence of white inclusions as opposed to darker ones.

A subset of individuals appreciates the distinctive and captivating nature of included diamonds, leading to the emergence of salt & pepper diamonds. The jewelry industry has cleverly devised a strategy to promote lower clarity diamonds at a relatively higher price point that remains within the reach of the average consumer.

It is uncommon to come across center stones graded as I3. However, when it comes to accents, I3 clarity diamonds enjoy considerable popularity at Kays. A significant portion of their engagement rings, particularly those lacking certification, feature center stones rated as I1 clarity, while accent stones tend to be categorized as I3 clarity.

If you’re not specifically aiming for the salt and pepper aesthetic, I would advise against purchasing an engagement ring featuring an I3 clarity diamond. Numerous online retailers choose not to offer diamonds below the SI clarity grades for a valid reason. The presence of excessive inclusions can significantly diminish the diamond’s brilliance, which is typically the primary allure of owning such a gem.

Inclusions of I3 clarity in accent stones may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye. In certain cases, an abundance of visible inclusions on the table of a diamond can cause a slight grayish appearance. Nevertheless, a skilled designer should be able to ensure a harmonious match between diamonds, whether they possess I3 clarity or not.

Finding I clarity lab diamonds is even more improbable. It’s worth noting that imperfections in lab-grown diamonds are typically less discernible compared to those found in mined diamonds.

Nevertheless, I3 clarity diamonds shouldn’t be dismissed entirely. They can be suitable for less conspicuous jewelry pieces, even with visible external flaws. When it comes to diamond earrings, they offer an affordable option since most people won’t scrutinize them up close to notice any blemishes.

From a distance, the average observer would struggle to determine the clarity of your diamond or deduce its cost. The setting itself can contribute to this effect. However, it’s important to bear in mind that flaws become more noticeable as you move up in carat weight while searching for higher-quality diamonds.

In the case of colored gemstones, the significance of clarity grade diminishes compared to the actual hue and intensity of the color. An emerald with I3 clarity, but originating from Colombia and possessing an exceptional color, can still command exorbitant prices.

I don’t possess any specific suggestions for locating I3 gemstones, an alternative avenue to explore could be James Allen, an establishment that provides diamonds featuring I-Clarity. By making use of their immersive 360˚ viewer, you might stumble upon specimens adorned with imperfections that cleverly elude notice within the setting. Prior to finalizing any transactions with jewelers, it is prudent to diligently inspect the positioning of such flaws.

Do I3 Diamonds Carry a Hefty Price Tag?

The primary and perhaps sole allure of I3 clarity diamonds lies within their pricing when juxtaposed with other clarity grades. After all, who doesn’t aspire to economize?

Unearthing I3 clarity diamonds to serve as your centerpiece can prove to be an arduous endeavor. Numerous Etsy vendors offer I2-I3 clarity diamonds, priced at a mere few hundred dollars for a half-carat stone. On the other hand, high-end jewelers typically present a minimum clarity grade of I1 for their diamonds.

RECOMMENDED: James Allen vs. Blue Nile: Which is a Better Store?

Advantages and Disadvantages of I3 Diamonds

For a straightforward breakdown, let’s delve into the pros and cons of an I3 diamond, leaving no stone unturned.


  • I3 Diamonds offer a cost-effective alternative.
  • I3 Diamonds present a viable choice for those seeking salt and pepper diamonds.


  • The presence of I3 flaws can diminish the brilliance and overall light reflection.
  • They are not commonly available as center stones and can be challenging to locate in that capacity.
  • Most retailers primarily offer I1 clarity diamonds as their lowest grade for center stones.
  • Major jewelry chains often overprice I clarity diamonds compared to their actual value, despite being the go-to source for many individuals purchasing engagement rings.
  • While they can be utilized as salt and pepper diamonds, caution is necessary to ensure the imperfections are internal rather than external. External blemishes increase the risk of chipping and breakage.


In my assessment, considering the drawbacks and potential hazards associated with owning a diamond that harbors numerous flaws, I firmly believe that the advantages are overshadowed. If you are drawn to the aesthetic appeal of visible imperfections, it is crucial to focus solely on internal ones. Including external inclusions poses a threat to the durability of your diamond. Moreover, I must emphasize that locating a high-quality I3 diamond is an extremely arduous task.

In fact, I strongly recommend steering clear of diamonds categorized under the I Clarity tier altogether. Many renowned chain retailers tend to inflate the prices of their I Clarity diamonds, surpassing the costs of SI clarity diamonds available at reputable online platforms such as James Allen and Blue Nile.

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