Diamond Clarity

General Facts

  • Today we are going to be talking about another one of the 4 C’s: diamond clarity.
  • When examining diamonds, clarity refers to the presence of unique internal or external markings in a stone.
  • Internal markings are referred to as “inclusions,” while external imperfections are known as “blemishes.”
  • Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle under extreme heat and pressure. This process happens roughly 100 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.
  • This unique environment of extreme heat and pressure makes it very common for inclusions to form within the diamond. Almost every diamond will have some type of inclusion or blemish, but no two diamonds will have the same pattern.
  • These birthmarks are places within a diamond that did not fully crystallize due to uneven heat and pressure. You can also think of them as diamond within a diamond.

How is Clarity Graded?

  • When GIA is determining a diamond’s clarity, they are concerned with what you can’t see in the stone. The clearer the stone is, the better the light refraction.
  • Clarity is graded on a scale that progresses from Included (I1,I2,I3), to Sightly Included (SI1-SI2), Very Slightly Included (VS1,VS2), Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1,VVS2), Internally Flawless (IF), and lastly, Flawless (FL).
  • You might be wondering why there are numbers after some of the clarity grades - this is to allow more specific grading within the categories. The lower number is always higher in clarity, so an SI1 will be cleaner than an SI2.
  • When shopping for diamonds, here is what you will see at each clarity level:
  • At the Included level, inclusions are very easily visible with 10 power magnification and often with the naked eye.
    • Here, the inclusions are generally large and numerous, which are likely to affect the overall brilliance of the diamond.
    • This is the quality you are getting when you see 1ct diamonds offered for 1-2 thousand dollars.
  • At the Slightly Included level, inclusions will range from slightly visible to very difficult to see with the naked eye. This category will allow you to maximize your budget.
    • With most SI quality diamonds, shoppers are able to point out inclusions under 10 power magnification but don’t feel that they are large enough to affect the overall look of the diamond because they can’t see them when the loupe is gone.
    • This is why you will often hear jeweler’s use of the words “eye-clean” when showing a great SI quality diamond.
    • This category is maximize and we can’t guarantee that every diamond will be eye-clean. However, if you give yourself time to cherry pick, it’s possible to come across diamonds with more favorable inclusions that are clean to the naked eye… which will allow you to save extra money.
  • At the Very Slightly Included level, inclusions are minor and difficult to see under 10 power magnification. Many clients will choose this category because it ensures they can’t see anything with their naked eyes and will have a very difficult time viewing inclusions under a loupe. Diamonds ranging from VS1-FL will generally look the same to the naked eye, assuming all other characteristics are equal.
  • At the Very Very Slightly Included level, inclusions are extremely minor and often need higher than 10 power magnification for the average shopper to view. Shopping in this category ensures that your diamond will be extremely clean and easy to compare. Most Diamonds in the VVS category will looks very similar to one another, assuming that all other characteristics are the same, due to the fact that the inclusions are so minor. This category is much more defined and isn’t as broad as the SI to VS categories.
  • A diamond that is Internally Flawless does not contain ANY visible internal inclusions under 10 power magnification but may have some type of external blemish on the surface of the diamond. This quality and above are often bought for investment purposes due to their rarity.
  • Lastly, a Flawless diamond is structurally perfect and extremely rare. It does not have any visible internal inclusions or external blemishes under 10 power magnification. This is the highest diamond clarity grade achievable. The flawless and internally flawless categories combined make up less than 1% of the worlds gem-quality diamonds.

Our Recommendations

  • Deciding what clarity to choose is a personal decision for each shopper. You’ll need to decide what’s most important to you, so you can maximise your budget.
  • The most popular clarity choices are actually between SI2-VS1 because of how good they look and how competitive the prices are.
  • Most clients will choose diamonds within this range because it also allows you to maximize other categories - like a higher color or larger carat weight.
  • When trying to decide on diamond clarity, please keep in mind that each clarity level is a range. You should use each piece of advice to your advantage, but don’t let the paperwork be the only judge.
  • Because no two diamonds have the same pattern of birthmarks, you can compare two diamonds at the same clarity level, but may still find that one can have more preferable inclusions than the other. This is why your eyes should always be the final judge other than solely relying on the paperwork.
  • We always recommend for first-time buyers to compare live examples of diamond clarity. Feel free to come by our store any time to view examples and help decide which is best for you.

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