What is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity refers to the state of a diamond being clear without inclusions, blemishes and surface defects. Analyzing the level of clarity is a process that evaluates the number, nature, position and size of internal and external clarity characteristics and how these affect the overall visual appearance of the stone. Whether you're looking for fine jewelry or an engagement ring, clarity should be an important factor in making your decision.
The Modern Clarity Scale was invented in the 1950s as a universal standard to address different ranges of diamond clarity. The scale features six categories with 11 grades to determine quality, from Flawless and Internally Flawless on the high end to Included on the low end.
These diamonds are very rare, and are considered the highest quality. They have no inclusions visible at up to 10x magnification. They make for a beautiful diamond, but are extremely expensive and can be difficult to find.
Internally Flawless (IF)
These diamonds have no inclusions visible at under 10x magnification. They feature tiny blemishes that may be difficult to see, but Internally Flawless is still considered valuable and less widely available.
Very, Very Slightly (VV₁ and VV₂)
These diamonds have very small inclusions at 10x magnification, but their imperfections are barely visible and thus still considered high quality and quite valuable.
Very Slightly (V₁ and V₂)
These diamonds have small but noticeable inclusions at 10x magnifications, which are still difficult to notice with an untrained eye. VS diamonds are also quite popular with shoppers.
Slightly Included (SI₁ and SI₂)
These diamonds have readily visible inclusions when magnified or viewed by the naked eye. Inclusions are often hidden when diamonds with SI clarity are set, making them more popular options with shoppers on a budget.
Included (I₁, I₂, I₃)
These diamonds have visible surface inclusions which are very apparent when viewed under a microscope. Their flawed appearance are considered the lowest quality, making them less desirable and valuable. This may allow for a larger diamond at a lower price.
Benefits of Diamond Clarity:
- Stones with the fewest inclusions receive the highest grade of clarity, which makes for an all-around higher grade diamond.
- Diamond clarity is an important attribute when appraising a diamond's value and can make a big difference in price. This factors in when purchasing a diamond engagement ring or fine jewelry. High clarity makes a diamond more expensive.
- Diamonds with a few inclusions may have a flawed appearance when magnified, but the inclusions are difficult to notice on the surface to the untrained eye. Setting the stone often helps to further hide inclusions.
Clarity is only one of the four Cs of the diamond grading scale that determine overall quality, which will be your guiding principle when you begin to buy diamonds. The other 3 Cs include:
- Cut - Cut does not actually refer to diamond shapes, but rather how the facets are cut. A cut diamond with facets that are too shallow or deep may improperly refract light and cause it to escape through the bottom, culet or sides, reducing the stone's brilliance and shine.
- Color - Color grade refers to the shade (or lack thereof) that a diamond possesses. Diamonds that have a faded yellow hue are considered lower quality, while a colorless diamond makes for a more expensive gemstone. This does not include vibrantly colored diamonds, which are considered extremely rare and valuable.
- Carat - Carat refers to a unit of weight used for measuring precious stones, with one carat equal to 200 milligrams. A higher carat (heavier) stone makes for a more valuable diamond.