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I1 vs VS2 Diamond Clarity (4 Differences)

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I1 vs VS2

A diamond’s clarity has a significant impact on its overall appeal and performance.

Two categories on the clarity scale are included (I) and very slightly included (VS). Within these sections, diamonds can be designated I1 or VS2.

The main difference between I1 and VS2 diamonds is I1 diamonds have heavy inclusions that are almost always visible to the naked eye. The flaws impact its durability and appearance, so they’re rarely used in engagement rings. VS2 diamonds have small blemishes that are often only noticeable with magnification.

We’ll compare I1 versus VS2 diamonds across the areas most important to your decision, including an overview of each clarity grade, their four differences, and how to know which is right for you.

What is an I1 Diamond?

I1 diamonds fall on the low end of the clarity scale. 

I1 Diamond

Within the included category, there are three grades: I1, I2, and I3.

Each step down means the inclusions are more impactful. I1 is the ninth lowest position on the scale, landing one grade below SI2.

GIA Clarity Scale

For example, compare the differences between this flawless diamond and this I1 diamond. 

Flawless and I1 Clarity Diamond

The flaws in the I1 diamond are immediately noticeable.

On the other hand, compare it to this I2 diamond.

I2 Diamond

To the naked eye, it’s difficult to identify which one is more included.

Even trained gemologists can assign unique clarity grades to the same diamond, which demonstrates how the distinctions between grades next to each other on the clarity scale often aren’t noticeable.

An I1 clarity grade isn’t referring to specific inclusions. It could have any of the following:

  • Feathers
  • Cavities
  • Twinning wisps
  • Black spots

Instead, it’s an indicator of the extent that those imperfections affect its overall quality and performance.

What is a VS2 Diamond?

VS2 diamonds are positioned between VS1 and SI1 on the GIA clarity scale. So it has more impactful inclusions than the former but less than the latter.

But to the naked eye, it’s often impossible to tell the difference.

As an example, here’s a VS2 diamond next to one graded VS1.

VS2 and VS1 Diamond

Now, compare it to this SI1 diamond.

Even with high-resolutions images, they appear almost identical.

Similar to I1 diamonds, a VS2 grade isn’t indicating certain types of inclusions. It could have any combination of cavities, etch channels, or bruises.

But the VS2 clarity grade means these same inclusions aren’t as impactful compared to the ones in an I1 diamond.

How are I1 and VS2 Diamonds Different?

Clarity is one of many factors to consider in finding the right diamond for you. 

By comparing I1 versus VS2 diamonds, you can understand how those differences affect its appearance and value.

Here are four differences between them and details on each.

1. I1 Diamonds Have More Inclusions

In almost every case, I1 diamonds have more inclusions than ones that earn a VS2 grade. 

Although clarity isn’t an indicator of a specific number, in general, more inclusions result in a lower grade.

For example, let’s examine this I1 diamond

There are black spots, feathers, and twinning wisps scattered across its table.

There are several occurrences of each.

As a comparison, this VS2 diamond only has crystals and feathers.

VS2 Diamond

Additionally, it’s likely each inclusion is smaller. This lessens its overall effect on the diamond.

There are exceptions to this rule. This one has:

  • Crystals
  • Feathers
  • Cavities
  • Needles

The reason it still received a VS2 grade, even though there are four types of inclusions, is because they aren’t as large as the ones in the I1 diamond and have less of an affect on its performance.

We recommend choosing a diamond with several minor inclusions, like pinpoints and needles, versus one with one or two large ones. 

They’re more likely to be noticeable and impact its structure than several small ones.

Diamonds with large inclusions are more likely to earn an I1 grade for this reason.

2. VS2 Diamonds Sell for a Higher Price

Buyers are willing to pay a higher price for VS2 diamonds compared to ones graded I1. 

They’re more visually appealing and rare, which increases demand. This allows vendors to charge more.

To assess prices for VS2 versus I1 diamonds, we compared more than 140 diamonds from James Allen, a leading online jewelry retailer.

Each round-cut was graded by the GIA and had the following grades:

  • Carat weight: 1.00
  • Cut: Very good
  • Color: G

The average price for an I1 diamond with those grades was $3,962, with a range of $2,820-$5,130.

Prices of I1 Diamonds from James Allen

For a VS2 diamond with those traits, the average was $7,527. The range was $7,090-$9,490.

That’s a 90 percent premium for a VS2 diamond compared to one with I1 clarity. 

The I1 diamond with the highest price still costs more than the VS2 diamond with the lowest price.

But in general, you’ll pay about 20 percent more for every step up the clarity scale. That difference is often more significant if you move from one category to the next, such as SI to VS clarity.

It’s also a higher premium than you’ll pay for moving up the color scale.

3. I1 Diamonds Can Have Durability Issues

The effects of inclusions in I1 diamonds aren’t limited to its visible appearance. It also impacts durability.

They represent weak points in a diamond’s structure that could fracture if it’s hit or dropped. This is especially the case if those imperfections are located in positions that are already vulnerable.

For example, fancy shapes like princess, baguette, marquise, and pear cuts have sharp points. On princess and baguette cuts, they’re on the corners. 

On marquise and pear cuts, there are ends that narrow and reach a point.

Even without inclusions in those areas, they’re still vulnerable.

But when a flaw like a twinning wisp, feather, or bruise is located there, it weakens them even more. That’s why you should always protect these areas with a strong setting.

Bezel settings are often fit for weaker diamonds because a ring of metal wraps around it, protecting it at every angle.

Bezel Setting for Included Diamond

The downside is it covers more of the diamond compared to a prong setting, which reduces its apparent size and brilliance.

And make sure your choice of setting doesn’t press too hard on the diamond.

This is less of an issue with VS2 diamonds. If there are inclusions in those positions, they’re more likely to be small and have minimal impact.

4. VS2 Diamonds are Popular Choices for Engagement Rings

VS2 diamonds are often chosen for engagement rings because of their eye-cleanliness and lower price compared to ones in the VVS or flawless category.

And if you choose a brilliant cut, the inclusions won’t have a significant impact on its brilliance.

You shouldn’t be concerned with the specific clarity grade for your engagement ring diamond.

Instead, focus on how it appears when viewed in a normal setting. This concept applies to its color grade as well, which is why G and H color grades are popular.

In the same way I1 diamonds cost less than VS2 diamonds, the latter also commands a discount because of its inclusions. 

In fact, if you opt for VS2 over flawless, you can save up to 50 percent on the diamond.

It’s rare to find an I1 diamond on an engagement ring. Visible inclusions, especially ones as large and dark as typically found on an I1 diamond, diminish its appearance.

For example, you wouldn’t want to prominently display this diamond.

As a contrast, this diamond ring has inclusions but still sparkles like a flawless one.

VS2 Diamond Engagement Ring

Start your search with SI2 or SI1, but if your diamond is heavier than one carat, you’ll likely find the right pick at VS2 or VS1.

This is because larger facets result in more visible inclusions.

How to Decide Between I1 and VS2 Diamonds

Choosing between an I1 versus VS2 diamond involves understanding how the inclusions affect its overall quality. 

It’s one of the most important characteristics of a gem, and the 11 grades on the GIA clarity scale leaves you with many choices.

Our recommendation is to avoid I1 diamonds and instead choose one with no visible inclusions. VS2 diamonds often fit this criteria.

For accents placed on the ring or around the center gem as a halo, you should choose the same.

Whether you’re searching for an I1 or VS2 diamond, or one with a different clarity grade, take the time to assess all the options available for your ring.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon

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