Clarity – one of the cardinal 4Cs determining the quality of a diamond – is a crucial factor when you consider the superiority of a diamond. As most natural diamonds are formed under extreme pressure and heat, deep within the earth, virtually most diamonds contain tiny imperfections or ‘birthmarks’ known as ‘inclusions’ inside the diamond and ‘blemishes’ on the surface of the diamond.
Clarity refers to the degree of imperfections present in the stone. Diamonds containing significant or numerous blemishes or inclusions have less brilliance as these flaws interfere with the course of light through a diamond. The positioning of inclusions affects how easily they can be seen. Every effort is made to cut a diamond so that no inclusion is visible through the table of a finished diamond. If any, the preferred position for the inclusion is generally under bezel facets or generally near the girdle as inclusions are harder to detect and see there.
Diamond clarity chart
Evaluating clarity of a diamond involves determining the size, number, nature, relief, and position of inclusions and blemishes as well as how these characteristics affect overall appearance of the diamond. While no particular diamond is absolutely pure, the closer it is, the steeper its value.
The diamond clarity scale of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has six categories, some of which have further divisions, to create a total of 11 precise grades.
- Flawless (FL) – No blemishes and no inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions so minimal they are difficult for a skilled grader to spot under 10x magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are seen with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect brilliance and transparency
For best value, opt for a diamond with inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye and cannot be seen without magnification, for instance a VS or SI grade. Choosing a lower diamond clarity grade also can help you save money and let you easily prioritize on any of the other 4Cs including cut or carat. Make sure your jeweler offers a diamond certificate for the diamond you buy.