What Is Clarity in a Diamond?

What Is Clarity in a Diamond?

Posted by Koorosh Daneshgar on Mar 1st 2021

A Complete Guide to the Clarity of Diamonds

Buying an engagement ring represents a milestone in each relationship and would be considered the biggest purchase of your life and should be done perfectly. To do this, you should have enough information about the diamond’s characteristics. The clarity of a diamond is a vital feature to consider while searching for the perfect diamond.

Clarity is one of diamond characteristics which indicates the presence of some flaws in a diamond called inclusions and surface imperfections that are also known as blemishes. Clarity is one of the 4C’s of diamond classifying.

Diamond clarity has a significant impact on the beauty of a diamond. But is clarity more important than other C’s when choosing a diamond? Should you invest in clarity? Read on to learn more about clarity, 4C’s and how to choose a qualified jeweler.

What Is the Meaning of Diamond Clarity?

Diamond clarity is a method to measure natural marks and imperfections inside and on the surface of a diamond. As mentioned earlier, the imperfections in the stone are called inclusions and the flaws on the surface are called blemishes. As long as you see a diamond with the naked eye, clarity does not affect the beauty of a diamond. In this case, gemologists use the technical term “internal characteristics” rather than defects and believe the natural diamond receives its characteristics from these inclusions and blemishes. Needless to mention, diamonds with fewer inclusions provide the highest clarity and are more expensive.

If you think about the incredible amount of pressure it takes to form a diamond and the fact that natural diamonds are not grown in a sterile laboratory, it’s no surprise that most diamonds have flaws. Diamonds are made in excessive temperature and pressure underground and these inclusions are inevitable. Hence, please consider all diamonds are exceptional, not perfect.

The Process of Diamond Construction

The formation of a diamond is not a gentle process. Most diamonds are born in exceptional circumstances from primeval carbon deep in the earth’s mantle at about 500,000 to 2 million feet beneath the surface. They are then shot up to the surface at supersonic speeds by eruptions inside the earth. Generally, these volcanoes are very small, but the magma emerges much deeper, this qualifies the diamonds to be extracted and carried up through the earth.

The intense heat and pressure diamonds undergo during their rise can cause unique marks that affect their clarity. These marks are known as inclusions or blemishes.

Diamond Clarity Chart

Now we know the meaning of diamond clarity, let’s examine various types of diamond clarity:

  • FL (Flawless). Only about 2% of diamonds are classified as flawless.
  • IF (Internally Flawless). Internally flawless clarity is referred to tiny and evident surface blemishes under 10x magnification.
  • VVS1, VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included). Extremely small inclusions that are hard to see under 10x magnification. Qualified professionals can observe them after an intense examination.
  • VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included). Flaws that typically cannot be seen by the naked eye.
  • SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included). Flaws might be visible to the naked eye.
  • I1 (Included 1st Degree). Flaws visible even to the ordinary observers.

Flawless Diamonds: Not visible under 10X magnification

A flawless diamond has the most clarity of all and is so scarce. When a gemologist observes it under 10X magnification, there are no perceptible inclusions. In most cases, only retailers and collectors choose this diamond. Casual customers prefer to purchase a diamond with a greater size or improve the level of the diamond’s color.

VVS Diamond Clarity: Very difficult to see under 10X Magnification

The VVS classification is divided into two subcategories: VVS1 and VVS2. In VVS1, the flaws are placed in the bottom half of the diamond and can be observed from the pavilion view. But in VVS2, the flaws are positioned near the top of the diamond and can be observed from the top view. In VVS diamonds, inclusions are extremely difficult to be observed even with 10X magnification and as in the case of flawless diamonds, the price is prohibitive. Normally, people prefer devoting their money for cut, size or color.

VS Diamond Clarity: Moderately visible under 10X Magnification

VS classification is also divided into two categories: VS1 and VS2. VS1 is more valuable and the inclusions are minor and less tangible than VS2. In VS2 the inclusions are poorly placed and more noticeable. Typical clients can see VS diamonds in a 10X magnification, but they are flawless to the unaided eye. The price of VS diamonds is also so much lower than the higher clarity grades.

SI Diamond Clarity

The SI diamond clarity is also broken into two groups: SI1 and SI2. Some jewelry laboratories recognize this classification as SI3, but this classification is not acknowledged by the Gemological Institute of America-GIA.

The SI1 classification is by some means more difficult to assign. Diamonds smaller than one carat are placed at the end of this classification and normally flawless to the naked eye. For instance, SI1 diamonds of up to 1.5 carats can be satisfying with inclusions since they are not visible. SI2 diamonds contain flaws that are somewhat observable under careful examination as loose diamonds, can be attractive when mounted in jewelry. If you would like to select a diamond in this grade, examine it very carefully.

Stones that are classified as “SI3” are better than other diamonds in their class and exhibit some marks that are visible to the naked eye. The location of these marks is crucially important and indicates the value of an SI diamond. If you select SI diamonds carefully, it can give an ideal look at a lower price in comparison to high clarity diamonds.

I Diamond Clarity

I diamond clarity is separated into three categories: I1, I2and I3. I1 diamonds have visible inclusions to the naked eye. The inclusions of I3 diamonds can be identified across the room. I2 diamonds could be placed between these two clarity grades. I clarity diamonds can be cheaper, but you may regret the investment as a result of their low clarity.

What Is Inclusion?

Inclusion is one of the key features of diamond clarity which can be observed by 10X magnification. Inclusions contain bubbles, crystals, carbon spots, feathers, clouds, pinpoints, cracks, abrasions or other impurities that are made through high pressure and heat.

What Causes inclusions?

As a diamond is forming under high pressure and heat, some miniature crystals can become trapped in the diamond. Sometimes the crystal becomes larger and can form some irregularities in its atomic structure. These inclusions enable graders to distinguish between artificial and natural diamonds and measure the quality of a diamond. Likewise, these marks add to the uniqueness of each diamond.

What Are the Different Types of Inclusions?

We will discuss more about the different types of inclusions below.

Bearding: Hair-like marks that typically occur during cutting a diamond and can develop from grindle into the surface of the stone.

Cavity: This inclusion is a hole on the surface of a diamond. This occurs when an internal inclusion gets out of its place during polishing the diamond and leaves an opening on the surface of a diamond. These holes can be filled with dirt or oil. The question is why jewelers don’t eliminate these holes? The answer is for they have to remove the surface of the diamond entirely and it results in a significant diamond weight loss. Needless to say, a heavier diamond is much more valuable.

Chip: Chip inclusions are small openings on the surface of diamonds usually found near the grindle, culet or facet junctions. These inclusions occur by unintentional knocks of humans.

Cloud: Cloud is a cluster of crystals. Based on the nature of cloud inclusion, a cluster of crystals can be very close to each other. This can sometimes cause an issue in the diamond’s appearance.

Crystal: Occasionally, a mineral crystal appears in a diamond that can be colorless, black, reddish, greenish, etc.

Feather: Feather inclusion is a thin crack inside a diamond. Based on your viewing angle, a feather inclusion can look transparent and almost invisible or can be visible under the light and show a feather-like appearance.

Graining: These inclusions would be caused by irregular crystal growth.

Indented Natural: This inclusion appears on the surface of rough diamonds and develops below the polished diamond’s surface.

Knot: Knot inclusion is a transparent crystal that reaches the surface of a polished diamond.

Needle: A large needle-like inclusion that has a white or transparent color and is visible at 10X magnification.

Pinpoints: Pinpoint inclusion is tiny white, or black crystals embedded inside a diamond and is similar to a small dot.

Twinning Wisps: This inclusion is a series of pinpoints, clouds, or crystals. As a diamond is growing and the growth starts to continue in a different direction the Twinning Wisps appear.

Some Crucial Factors about Inclusions that Directly Affect the Clarity

Number: The number of inclusions affects the clarity grade. The more visible inclusions, the less clarity grade would be.

Position: If the location of inclusion is under the table and close to a pavilion, then it turns the inclusion into reflectors and tremendously affects the clarity grade.

Size: The larger the inclusion is, the lower the clarity grade.

Nature: The type of inclusion, influences diamond clarity.

Color and Relief: Color and relief affects how easily a character is seen or how much contrast the inclusion and the surrounding diamond have.

Does Clarity Matter in Diamonds?

As long as clarity is not visible with the naked eye, it does not matter much in comparison to other characteristics of a diamond (4C’s). Generally, clarity starts mattering a lot when it is too low and diamonds with clarity graded below SI1 and SI2 are likely to have visible flaws.

How Does Clarity Affect a Diamond?

Clarity will affect a diamond, based on how much it will shine brightly under the light. The diamond shines more radiantly when there are fewer inclusions inside a diamond. It’s good to know no two diamonds are the same even diamonds that are regarded the same under the GIA scale.

How Does Diamond Clarity Affect the Price?

Generally, the more flawless a diamond is, the more expensive it will be. Prices can differ from 15 to 25 percent between clarity grades and even diamonds in the same grade can vary from 5 to 15 percent.

What Is Diamond Clarity Enhancement?

Diamond clarity enhancement is a process that should be done by expert jewelers to make stones with inclusions look immaculate to the naked eye. This process is usually done by laser drilling that the jeweler drills microscopic holes to the flaws and then burns them with a specialized laser. The fracture filling is another technique of diamond clarity enhancement that uses specialized drills. The holes are filled with a crystal-like material to make a flawless look.

How to Determine Diamond Clarity?

To determine diamond clarity, we have to consider different factors. These factors are number, visibility, size, relief, nature, and position of inclusions and how they affect the appearance of the stone.

The accepted standard of diamond clarity grading is to observe the stone using a 10X magnification with a trained naked eye. But most of us can look at diamonds sparkle and recognize which diamond clarity is the best. As a fact, the more sparkle a diamond has the higher its rate is on the clarity scale. One of the easiest ways to determine diamond clarity is using a loupe and grading the clarity.

How to Use a Loupe to Determine Diamond Clarity Grade?

A loupe is a magnifying glass that you can hold in your hand and view the diamond more carefully. You can pick up a loupe by your thumb and index finger. The loupe works both ways, regardless of which end you look through. You don’t have to be right-handed or left-handed you should always use your left eye to look through the loupe. While trying to look through the loupe, keep your body straight not to block the light. Then, you have to pick the diamond with the tweezers or in the diamond holder and keep the diamond very close to your eyes.

See the following figure for further clarification on how best to hold the loupe.

You can see in this video how to use a loupe step by step.


Which Clarity Is the Best for Diamonds?

In nature, flawless clarity diamonds and internally flawless diamonds are the rarest since they have no inclusion and can sparkle perfectly. These diamonds are scarcely used in engagement rings and represent only 0.5 percent of diamond rings.

So which clarity is the best for diamonds? It depends. Some people think it’s better to get a flawless or internally flawless diamonds, but it’s not always true as they are very luxurious and expensive. If you choose F or IF clarity with large carat and a unique cut then you have to pay tremendously more money than other kinds of diamond clarities.

From an economic perspective, Slightly Included (SI) diamonds are more profitable since the inclusions are not visible by the naked eye. Since no one observes your ring by a microscope, SI diamonds are well-known as the best value of diamonds.

What Are the Four C's in Diamonds?

Four C’s are the most prominent characteristics of a diamond which include cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

  1. Cut is the most important of 4Cs because it has an extreme influence on a diamond’s sparkle.
  2. Color is the second most important of the 4C’s and it refers to a diamond’s lack of color. The less color, the higher the diamond grade.
  3. Clarity is often the least important of the 4C’s because the tiny deficits are often microscopic.
  4. Carat Weight refers to the diamond’s total weight and not its size.

For more information, you can take a tour of 4C’s.


Cut

Cut is the most significant part of your certificate since it is vital for the stone’s ultimate beauty and worth. When talking about a diamond’s cut, we are only talking about its capacity to sparkle. Cut is the only feature that humans have any control over and women love the most. The GIA has divided cut grades into these categories: excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.

There are some aspects in defining cut grades that gemologists have to take into consideration such as table size, crown angle, pavilion angle, star length, lower half-length, girdle thickness, culet size, total depth, polish, symmetry, pavilion depth, and crown height.

The round brilliant diamond cut has the most sparkle. Brilliant round cut diamond is designed to have the most sparkle and the most facet. The modern round brilliant diamond cut is very popular since with 57 or 58 facets, they absorb the light better than any other diamond shapes.

For more information about cut grades, go to cut grades.

Color

The color grade illustrates the total color of a diamond. It ranges from a pure white diamond (D) to a visible unpleasant yellow color (Z). The colorless diamonds are those with a D, E, or F, the near-colorless with a G, H, and diamonds bear a resemblance to yellow are those with I, J and K grades.

Clarity

As stated before, clarity of a diamond refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes and GIA has formed different types of diamond clarity grades like FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1 SI2.

Carat

Diamond Carat indicates how much a diamond weigh. One carat is defined as 200 milligrams and each carat is subdivided into 100 points. This way, jewelers have an accurate measurement of diamonds’ weight. When a diamond weighs less than one carat it will be shown by points. For instance, a diamond that weighs 0.65 carats is known as a sixty-five pointer. Diamonds that weigh greater than one carat are expressed in carats and numbers like 1.20 carats would be described as one point twenty carats.

In an equal condition, larger diamonds are more expensive since they are rare and desirable. But, two diamonds that have the same carat weight would have different values along with their other characteristics like cut, color, and clarity. Like so, we have to consider all 4C’s to determine a diamond’s carat value.


What's More Important in a Diamond? Color or Clarity?

Color and clarity are important factors in selecting an engagement ring, but which one is more important? As discussed above, the color is more important than the clarity of the diamond. Consequently, you can go as low as SI1 or SI2 on the clarity scale and the diamond would still look perfect.

Color does not increase or decrease the brilliance of the diamond, but the colorless diamonds look sparkling and brighter. Alternatively, diamonds that have a deeper yellow color look darker and less brilliant. If you aim to shop for a radiant diamond, focus more on color than clarity.

How to Choose Clarity of a Diamond?

If you are looking forward to buying a cost-effective diamond, you can choose VS1 or VS2 (very slightly included) or SI1 diamond clarity and invest more in well-cut or high carat size. By purchasing VS2 diamonds you can save more money and get an eye-clean diamond.

Possible Misconceptions about Clarity

Among all 4C’s, clarity is the most misunderstood factor because people usually believe:

  • They have to buy diamonds with higher clarity for not to any flaws.
  • Higher clarity means a more sparkly diamond.

Some Easy Tips about Clarity in Diamond Buying

Now I want to share some guidance about diamond clarity that will help you during the diamond buying procedure:

  • The term, “eye clean” means the inclusions are too small that you can’t see them without any magnification.
  • To save money, you can concentrate on SI and VS clarity grades because the inclusions are not visible with the naked eye.
  • The diamond cut is the most important factor in a diamond’s brightness. Consequently, you can choose a diamond with lower clarity and better diamond cut and it can be sparkly enough to hide its flaws.
  • If you want to buy a diamond over one-carat weight or considering fancy-shaped diamonds, you have to invest more money on a higher clarity grade since diamond shape and size affect clarity.

Pro tip: It’s also important to know if the diamond is certified within one of the three top grades GIA, AGS, and IGI.


Why Is It Important to Choose a Skilled Jeweler in Buying an Engagement Ring?

Buying diamonds with abundant money is easy, but buying diamonds at a reasonable price might sound terrifying and challenging. It truly requires lots of investigation and knowledge. Learning how to pick the bargains is a proficient job that takes years of training. A jeweler observes thousands of diamonds of various grades and has a relationship with other diamond cutters and has enough information in this field. A jeweler should have adequate knowledge and a strong sense of integrity and honesty.

If you don’t have time to do this, don’t worry. You only need to find a qualified jeweler who can help you find a stunning diamond while staying within your budget. The expert jeweler will find out in which one of 4C’s you want to invest and try to balance them to suggest the best diamond.

If you are wondering how to choose a jeweler for buying an engagement ring, go to choose a qualified jeweler.

Where Can I Buy Diamonds in Chicago?

Even though you know what kind of diamond you are looking for, figuring out where you can buy your ideal diamond is very difficult. To help, I want to introduce one of the best jewelry stores in Chicago called Wedding Bands Company.

I , Koorosh Daneshgar, am the chief executive and the master jewelry designer of Wedding Bands Company. I have three decades of professional experience in creating glorious fine jewelry and have designed more than 10,000 unique pieces. I am specialized in creating engagement rings and take part in the creation process of each ring personally. I believe each ring should be gorgeous, comfortable and meaningful enough to be a part of your life.

What Services Does Wedding Bands Company Offer to the Customers?

Cleaning: An engagement ring is something you wear every day and it can become dirty easily. Wedding Bands Company believes, its customers deserve the rings that last forever and offers a six-month cleaning service regardless of the size and cost of the ring.

Warranty: Wedding bands Company gives a one-year warranty on all the rings they produce.

Wedding Bands Company constantly looks for creative ways to help you discover your ideal engagement ring and strives to be your jeweler for life. When you have an expert on your side, you’ll be surprised at the clarity and the carat weight of your diamond.

If you haven’t worked with Wedding Bands Company yet, you can make an appointment with one of our expert diamond design consultants and talk about your concerns and any specific design that you have in your mind. To do this, go to 30 Minute meeting

Why should I come to you to design my ring?

We involve you in every step of the process. At first, we will sit next to you and go over any concerns you have and any specific design elements you mind the ring to have. Once we have established exactly how you want the ring looks like, we will proceed with the design process. Once you see this design, if you want to make any change or if you have any questions or concerns we will be happy to address them for you. Our role is to help you to create the perfect ring and that means we will listen to you and make sure that your ring is indeed one of a kind.

Koorosh Daneshgar's collection

By: Koorosh Daneshgar CEO/Design Chief