In this four part series we will look at the Carat, Clarity, Color and Cut of diamonds. This second in the series will be all about Clarity.
Diamond Clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. Internal characteristics are referred to as inclusions and external characteristics are blemishes. Most of the clarity characteristics you will see are inclusions within the stone. Clarity ranges from the ultrarare Flawless down to I3.
Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades. The first is Flawless (FL) where no inclusions and no blemishes are visible to a trained eye under 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF). No inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2). Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled eye to see under 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2). Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2). Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification.
Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification, which may affect transparency and brilliance.
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality and value.
You tend to see better diamond clarity used for rings, as opposed to necklaces or earrings, since you view them from a closer perspective on a regular basis.
See Part 3 of our 4 C’s of Diamonds – Color. If you missed our first in the series regarding carat, you may check it out here.