Carats | Cut | Color

The Importance of Diamond Clarity!

Clarity is one of the key indicators of a diamond’s quality – and therefore, its value. Clarity is so important; it is one of the “4C’s” used to evaluate a diamond. Clarity refers to the presence of surface or internal marks, also called flaws, within a diamond caused during its formation deep in the earth or during the cutting process.

When these marks occur within the diamond, they are called inclusions. These flaws can take the form of scratches, chips, cavities, stress lines or fractures, crystals, bubbles or other imperfections, within the diamond.

All diamonds have flaws. Because no two diamonds have the same flaws, these marks provide each diamond with a unique “fingerprint” that gemologists can use to identify it.

Inclusions can interfere with the passage of light through a diamond, diminishing its beautiful sparkle and fire. In the rarest and most expensive diamonds, these marks are too tiny to see even under magnification. The general rule of clarity grading is: the fewer (and smaller) the inclusions, the rarer and more valuable the diamond.

How Are Diamonds Graded For Clarity?

Diamonds are graded for clarity by trained gemologists under a loupe at 10x magnification. Clarity grades are based on the size, number and position of imperfections in a diamond. Diamonds that appear to be completely free of any surface or internal flaws under 10x magnification receive the highest clarity grades of “Flawless” (FL) or “Internally Flawless” (IF) according to the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) clarity grading scale. At the other end of the spectrum, diamonds with large and/or numerous inclusions visible to the naked eye fall under one of the “Included” grades (I1(p1), I2(p2) or I3(p3)) under the GIA clarity grading scale.

Name Description
FL (Flawless): No surface blemishes or internal inclusions visible to a trained eye under 10x magnification. Exceptionally rare, beautiful and highly valuable diamond.
IF (Internally Flawless): No internal inclusions and only very minor surface blemishes visible to a trained eye under 10x magnification. Very rare, beautiful and highly valuable diamond.
VVS1 – VVS2: (Very Very Slightly Included) - Few, very tiny inclusions and/or surface blemishes difficult for a trained eye to see under 10x magnification. An excellent quality, beautiful diamond.
SI1 – VS2: (Very Slightly Included) - Very small inclusions and/or surface blemishes only visible to a trained eye under 10x magnification. High quality, beautiful diamond.
SI1 – SI2: (Slightly Included) - Small inclusions and/or surface blemishes easily seen under 10x magnification, but very difficult to see with the naked eye. Good quality diamond.
I1 (Included 1): Inclusions and/or surface blemishes easily visible under 10x magnification, and usually visible to the naked eye. Little effect on a diamond’s brilliance.
I2 (Included 2): More and larger inclusions and/or surface blemishes visible to the naked eye. Some diminished brilliance to the diamond.
I3 (Included 3): Many very large inclusions and/or surface blemishes easily visible to the naked eye. Substantial diminished brilliance to the diamond. Rarely used for jewelry purposes


Choosing the “Right” Clarity Grade

A diamond’s clarity grade has a significant impact on its price. IF (“Internally Flawless”) and FL (“Flawless”) diamonds are the rarest and exhibit no flaws that can diminish their brilliance – hence, they are considered exceptionally beautiful and can command great prices. However, a diamond doesn’t have to be flawless to be beautiful. Diamonds in the VVS and VS ranges are beautiful rare stones that display no visible imperfections and represent a significant cost savings over "IF" and "FL" diamonds. Diamonds in the "SI" range offer even more of a cost savings, and many display no imperfections visible to the naked eye. Even some "I1"(P1) stones display no visible flaws to the unaided eye that would detract from their brilliance or beauty. When deciding what clarity grade to purchase, you need to take into account your budget and weigh in how important the other elements of the “4C’s” (carat weight, color and cut) are to you. Obviously, you want to buy the best quality diamond you can afford.