When discussing diamond clarity, it is referring to two major characteristics: blemishes (external – scratches, chips, and pits) and inclusions (internal – cracks, bubbles, and other impure minerals). Many of these imperfections are too small to see with the human eye (requires a microscope) and occur in almost all diamonds. Keep in mind that all flaws are considered inclusions but they aren’t always “deal breakers” for diamonds.
What Determines Diamond Clarity?
There are also specific characteristics of each of these flaws that also determine the clarity grading. The size and number of flaws inside the diamond are the most significant. Other factors are more difficult to specify due to varying judgments of each grader.
- The position: whether it’s close to the surface, on the sides, in the middle, or at the bottom
- Color: the more darker it is, the more it affects the overall appearance
- Structure: if the inclusions (such as a crack) affect the overall integrity. Will it crack if hit the wrong way?
When being graded, the diamond is placed under 10x loupe magnification.
- FL/IF (Flawless, Internally Flawless): Flawless or almost flawless. This will be the most pricey, due to it’s rarity.
- VVS1/VVs2 (Very, very Slightly Included): When viewing through a microscope, it extremely hard to see. Still very rare.
- Vs1/Vs2 (Very Slightly Included): Semi difficult to see under a microscope. Inclusions rare to detect with the naked eye.
- SI1,SI2 (Slightly included): Inclusions easy to see under a microscope. Imperfections can be seen with the naked eye – a great value.
- I1,I2,I3 (Included): Can be easily seen with a naked eye and with a microscope. It’s not recommended to purchase these grades.
Diamond Clarity: Which grade is the right for you?
Of all of the four C’s, clarity is one you can compromise on and not affect the overall beauty of the diamond. Instead of choosing a high clarity stone, select an “eye-clean” diamond (S1/S2 and above) and move the difference into a larger stone or better color.
Thanks to technology and advances in science, the glamorous diamonds in your local jeweler’s case aren’t all what they appear to be. These stones could be “fracture-filled,” in which visible cracks are injected with a glass like substance, making a diamond appear more dazzling than it really is, which will come out if it is heat-treated later on. Also keep in mind the clarity of a diamond is subjective. You can send the diamond to be graded at five different places, and get a completely different assessment. Please read diamond grading facts you should know to understand how “tolerances” can significantly affect the price of your diamond.
With all of the things to consider when buying a diamond, the clarity grade is generally the least important of all the four C’s. Unless the diamond is full of inclusions, it isn’t a deal breaker for most average buyers–especially when most inclusions on the sides can be covered up by prongs on an engagement ring setting.