Diamond clarity is one of the four main pillars of diamond quality. The 4Cs of Diamond Quality was invented by the Gemological Institute of America in 1940. The GIA is the most respected authority in jewellery and gemstone research. The 4Cs of Diamond Quality is broken down into cut quality, clarity, colour, and carat weight.
What is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity refers to the presence of natural inclusions and blemishes in a diamond. The more prominent and noticeable the inclusions, the lower the diamond’s clarity.
You should know that almost every diamond in the world has inclusions or blemishes. Inclusions are the blanket name given to all imperfections in a diamond. Inclusions can also be called flaws, but they’re normal and part of all gemstones. Some gemstones are more likely to be eye-clean, or free of visible inclusions to the naked eye.
Inclusions and blemishes happen during the formation process of the diamond crystal. Diamonds require extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth to crystallize. Natural diamond inclusions are often the cause of other minerals entering the crystal as it forms. Tiny bits of minerals get trapped in the crystal.
Gem cutters do their best to cut away as much diamond rough with inclusions. Part of the hardest part of cutting a diamond is minimising the number of inclusions in the rough diamond. Heavily included diamonds can take away from the beauty of the diamond.
Do Lab Created Diamonds Have Inclusions?
One of the biggest misconceptions about lab grown diamonds is that they don’t have inclusions or blemishes like natural mined diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are capable of being colourless or being included.
That being said, they don’t have all the different types of inclusions that mined diamonds have. In the lab grown environment, you don’t have other minerals entering the crystal. But inclusions are also created by the heat and pressure. The lab environment simulates the same conditions needed for diamonds to grow in the earth. They may also get more blemishes during the cutting process too.
It’s much more common to have eye-clean lab grown diamonds if you were to just grab a handful of them with different clarity grades. You’d find more eye-clean ones than if you were to do the same with mined diamonds.
What is the Clarity Grade Chart
The clarity grade chart was made by the GIA that helps grade diamonds. Not every diamond has a clarity grade on a grading report, but all diamonds are graded. It also helps customers understand the different clarity grades.
- Internally flawless diamonds (IF) and flawless (F) diamonds are very rare. Less than .5% of gem quality diamonds are graded as F or IF clarity grades.
- Very Very Slightly Included diamonds have inclusions that are hard to see, even under 10x magnification. Oftentimes, any inclusions found in VVS1 or VVS2 diamonds are tiny pinpoints. Less than 1% of all gem quality diamonds are VVS1.
- Very Slightly Included diamonds have inclusions that aren’t noticeable with the naked eye, but may or may not be seen under 10x magnification. VS1 diamonds and VS2 diamonds are the last clarity grades that are considered eye-clean clarity.
- Slightly Included Diamonds can have visible inclusions to the naked eye. SI1 diamonds may have one or two noticeable inclusions. SI2 diamonds may have both dark and light-coloured imperfections that are noticeable to the naked eye.
- Included Diamonds have very noticeable inclusions with the naked eye. They will look like salt and pepper diamonds under 10x magnification. These are the most affordable clarity grades, but are too low of clarity to sell for some retailers.
Clarity grading from sources outside of the GIA may also talk about SI3 diamonds. They are typically considered equal to I clarity diamonds.
Certified diamonds by the American Gem Society (AGS) don’t follow the same grading scale as the GIA, but are considered equal in reliability. They grade clarity based on a number scale.
Understanding Diamond Clarity Grades
One of the best things about picking out a diamond for your engagement ring is that you don’t need the top grades or quality in everything. There are many details you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference in, but you’d notice the increase in price.
When it comes to diamond clarity grades, you don’t need a flawless diamond. Flawless diamonds are very expensive and might not be within most people’s budgets. If you’re a collector or you desire a diamond of rare quality, it might be worth it to you.
Say we set a VVS diamond, VS diamond, and an SI clarity diamond side by side in line so we could see the tops of the round diamond clearly. With a six inch distance to your eyesight, it’s highly unlikely you could notice the difference between VS clarity and VVS clarity. You might see a visible inclusion in the SI diamond.
But the price difference between a VVS2 diamond and a VS2 diamond can be over €600, as long as all other grades are similar.
When it comes to diamond clarity, choose what works best with your eyes, and your budget. It’s unnecessary diamond clarity chart to spend a ton of money on flawless diamonds vs a lower clarity grade if you don’t notice them.
You can save more money by choosing a diamond whose inclusions you can live with or don’t notice. After all, why pay for details you don’t notice and that don’t compromise your diamond’s durability?