When searching for the perfect diamond, you want to find the best value around. Color, carat and cut are the words most commonly used when trying to discern a diamond's value. However, diamond clarity, another one of the 4 C’s of diamonds, relates to flaws called inclusions inside the stone and blemishes on the diamonds surface. This factor can also largely influence a diamond's value.
The number of inclusions, their location, and if they appear hazy or cloudy can greatly affect a diamond's brilliance. Most internal inclusions do not affect the integrity of a diamond unless the cracks are close to the surface. It is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between natural and synthetic diamonds, so inclusions are often used as evidence of origin. With the growing popularity of synthetic diamonds, gemologists consider these minor inclusions a diamond’s fingerprint.
Since most identifying characteristics in a diamond are invisible to the naked eye, experts use a 10X triplet magnifying loupe to pinpoint tiny crystals, feathers and clouds (inclusions). There are five categories in determining diamond clarity using the 11 point diamond clarity scale created by GIA.
Below is the diamond clarity rating chart as defined by the GIA with additional comments from Diamond Stud Wholesale:
Diamond Clarity Chart
FL – Flawless - Diamonds where no inclusions or blemishes are detected by a skilled grader using 10x magnification. They are considered extremely rare and valuable. Less than 1 in 5000 gem quality diamonds are rated FL.
IF – Internally flawless - No inclusions are detected, however, insignificant blemishes on the surfaces can be seen under 10X magnification. Less than 3% of gem quality diamonds are rated IF.
VVS1 – VVS2 - Very, very slightly included - VVSI inclusions are visible only from the portion of the diamond that is below the girdle called the pavilion. VVS2 inclusions are visible from the crown. In either diamond, these are extremely difficult to detect unless viewed under 10X magnification. Diamond clarity is still brilliant, and diamond quality is excellent.
VS1 – VS2 – Very Slightly Included - Inclusions whose precise location can be seen through 10X magnification but nearly impossible to detect with the naked eye. They are less expensive than VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds; however, they are still considered an exceptionally good value. This is the standard for eye-clean diamonds which won't have visible inclusions under normal conditions.
SI1- SI3 - Slightly Included - Diamonds with inclusions that are easily detected under 10X magnification, however, they are only slight to moderate with the naked eye under normal conditions. A major step up from the I1-i3 grade stones and with small carat weight stones, SI1 is nearly eye-clean.
I1 – I3 Included- Diamonds with inclusions that may be seen with the naked eye. The inclusions and blemishes in this stone will have a large effect on the diamond's brilliance. I3 graded stones are heavily included while I1 grade stones are moderately included under normal conditions. The integrity of the stone could be compromised if the inclusions are close to the stone’s surface.
Diamond Studs Wholesale recommends VS and F color grades for maximal fire, diamond refraction and diamond colorlessness. If you have questions regarding diamond clarity or any of the other 4C’s, our diamond consultants are always on hand for answers.