A diamond’s clarity is rated by the presence of internal and external features or imperfections. The internal features are called inclusions, while external surface irregularities are called blemishes. Combined, we call them clarity characteristics. Internal inclusions are caused by any material that was trapped inside the stone during its formation. Inclusions may sometimes even extend from the interior of the stone to its surface. The size and number of inclusions, their degree of visibility and their position in the diamond are all considerations in the quality and value of a stone. They also normally have more of an effect on a stone’s beauty and value compared to external blemishes because internal inclusions cannot be removed, while external blemishes usually can. Blemishes include features like scratches or nicks on the surface of the diamond. Diamonds with no clarity characteristics are more rare and more valuable than diamonds with just a few.
How Clarity Ratings are Done - The industry standard clarity grading is done with a loupe of 10X (10-Power). Diamond grades are always determined at 10X. The two types of instruments used most often in the jewelry industry are the loupe and binocular microscope. Though the clarity of diamonds is rated based on imperfections visible under 10x magnification, for all practical purposes, “eye clean” is the market standard. The term eye-clean is used to describe diamonds that have no visible inclusions to the naked eye when viewed in the face-up position from no closer than 6" to 12". This is the way most diamonds are seen in their setting.
Cut vs. Clarity
A precise and balanced cut will optimize a diamond’s brilliance, light dispersion and brightness. So, a better performing stone will easily conceal any slight inclusions that a diamond may contain. For this reason, we recommend the choice of quality cut over clarity to maximize the value of your purchase. Our diamonds are well known for being not just eye clean, but for being brilliant and scintillating compared to other diamonds with less perfect cuts. Our average customer buys a diamond with a clarity rating of VS2 or SI1.
Clarity Grading FactorsFive factors determine the clarity grade:
- Size: Large inclusions affect clarity more than small ones
- Number: It is not just a matter of counting inclusions. A stone might have many small inclusions and still have a high clarity grade, one or two of the largest inclusion usually set the grade
- Position: An inclusions position also affects its visibility, inclusion are more visible under the table than they are under the bezel facets or near the girdle
- Nature: The nature of diamond's inclusion also influences its clarity grade. Large feathers have a greater impact on the clarity grade than any other inclusions
- Visibility: Dark inclusions are easier to see so they have a greater impact on the clarity grade than colorless inclusions
The Clarity Grades
- FL-Flawless: Flawless diamonds show no inclusions or blemishes of any kind while examined under 10X magnification. A flawless diamond can still have the following characteristics and still remain Flawless: 1. Extra facet not seen in the face up view. 2. Naturals on the girdle so long as they do not distort the outline. These are rare.
- IF- Internally Flawless: Internally Flawless diamonds show no inclusions using 10X magnification. They will have some minor blemishes such as surface grain lines naturals and extra facets. These are rare.
- VVS1~VVS2- Very Very Slightly Included: VVS diamonds contain very small inclusions that are difficult for experienced graders to see under 10X magnification and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Inclusions may be pinpoints, tiny feathers, internal raining, tiny cavities or slight bearding on the girdle.
- VS1~VS2- Very Slightly Included: VS diamonds contain small or minor inclusions viewed under 10X magnification with slight difficulty. VS diamonds typically have small clouds, feathers, included crystal and needles.
- SI1~SI2-Slightly Included: SI diamonds contain Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10X magnification. A SI1 in most cases should be eye clean. While the inclusions of a SI2 can be easily seen by the naked eye. Typical inclusions are clouds, cavities, knots, crystals, or feathers.
- I1~I2 and I3 Included: Diamonds that fall in the I range contain inclusions that can be easily seen with the naked eye and very easily seen under 10X magnificaton. They may conatin large crystals and include feathers where, in some cases, may affect brilliance and transparency. I3 catagories often lack durability and transparency