Diamond Clarity Scale

What makes a diamond impeccable is the absence of imperfections called inclusions. Fewer inclusions result in a more transparent and brilliant stone that awes its wearer and anyone who sees it. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a clarity grade scale to determine what makes a diamond the best it can be – flawless.

Diamond Clarity

Whenever you are in the market to buy diamonds whether for jewelry or an engagement ring, you will hear about the 4cs. These are cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Each of these metrics plays an important factor in how the diamond is valued. Collectively they will tell a buyer the quality of the diamond and this will help buyers purchase the best stone for their needs and budget.

Each “c” in the 4cs is important. Diamond clarity is the metric that grades the diamond’s visual appearance. If the diamond has fewer imperfections and blemishes the higher the diamond’s clarity grade. The higher the clarity grade and the fewer the imperfections will significantly impact the diamond’s value and cost. However, it’s important to note that these imperfections are rarely seen by the naked eye.

Also, diamond imperfections are normal. After all, diamonds are formed in the earth and in extreme heat. Considering these conditions it’s very rare for diamonds to be found in perfect condition. Small imperfections will exist. It’s just a matter of finding a stone with a good enough clarity grade for you.


Diamond clarity is a measure of flawlessness, specifically the degree to which inclusions are present. Inclusions are tiny, often microscopic, imperfections. In significantly “included” diamonds, can affect transparency and brilliance.

Some inclusions are present in most diamonds. Diamond cutters will generally try to hide inclusions in less visible positions, such as near the girdle. This is also why diamond cut is important too.

A diamond’s clarity grading is determined by using an 11-point scale developed by the GIA ranging from flawless to inclusions (surface blemishes). Clarity grade assesses the number, size, color, reflectivity, and position of all flaws visible under 10x magnification on the magnification loupe. Diamond experts are the only professionals who can perform diamond grading.

Diamond Clarity Scale

Diamond Clarity Scale

The following are the different grades and ratings on the GIA diamond clarity scale based on the number of points accumulated by each diamond:

FL Flawless No inclusions or blemishes found under 10x magnification. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and very expensive.
IF Internally Flawless Only minor blemishes and no inclusions are found under 10x magnification.
VVS1 VVS2 Very, Very Slightly Included gradings Inclusions are difficult to see under 10x magnification and are invisible to the unaided eye. Minor inclusions are visible under 10x magnification. In most cases, inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.
VS1 VS2 Very Slightly Included Minor inclusions are visible under 10x magnification. In most cases, inclusions are not seen by the naked eye.


Slightly Included Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification. Inclusions may or may not be visible to the unaided eye.
Included Inclusions are obvious and may affect transparency and/or brilliance. Inclusions are visible to 10x magnification and also to the unaided eye and may affect the diamond’s durability.

What’s a good color and clarity for a diamond?

The GIA Colorless range grades are the grades D, E, and F as well as Near Colorless (G, H, I, and J grades). If a colorless diamond is what you are looking for then you can opt for F rated color as it is the least expensive colorless grade, and the difference between an F grade color diamond and a D grade color rating won’t be visible to the naked eye.

diamond colors

If you want to get the best value for your money for a diamond with good clarity, then consider graded stones of VS2 or SI1, and choose one that looks the clearest to you.

You can also consider SI2 diamonds because although they may contain some visible inclusions, they will most likely be towards the sides of the stone. You can set the stone in a mounting that conceals the diamond’s periphery, making these flaws less visible.

At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if Flawless or Internally Flawless graded stones are really worth the price tag? Diamonds graded VS2 or SI1 do not look that different to the unaided eye and the difference from F & IF clarity characteristics can only be seen under 10x magnification. This will depend on your own personal preference as well as your budget.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours.

Diamond Plot


  • The intense faceting of brilliant cuts hides inclusions better than step-cuts like emerald or Asscher cuts.
  • Buyers set on perfection should choose diamonds that are VVS2 or better.
  • Flawless to the naked eye, clarity grades of VS1 and VS2 diamonds make up about half of all diamond purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions About Diamond Clarity

The best quality clarity grade of diamond that you can buy is FL which means the stone is flawless. However, as a general rule, for diamonds that are over 2 carats, it is recommended that you select a clarity grades of VS2 or above. For diamonds of 1-2 carats, the clarity grading should be SI1 or above. This will mean that there shouldn’t be any visible inclusions. Internally flawless diamonds are extremely rare.
Diamond clarity is classed as one of the vital 4 Cs when it comes to judging a diamond’s quality and essentially, its value. The fewer blemishes or inclusions that a diamond has, the better the quality. In reality, most blemishes are not visible to the naked eye.
A clarity-enhanced diamond is still a diamond, but in its natural state, it would have inclusions that would be visible to the unaided eye. However, using modern techniques, the inclusions are “filled” making them no longer so visible and bolstering the clarity grade.
A diamond will be graded under 10x microscope and requires a highly trained and skilled human eye to check for any inclusions. The location and nature of the flaws will have a significant impact on the diamond’s overall clarity.
Diamonds are graded into 11 categories of clarity. FL stands for flawless and is the best of the clarity range. The lowest grade is I3 which stands for included and will usually lack the transparency and brilliance associated with diamonds. Most people opt to purchase SI1 (slightly included) or VS2 (very slightly included diamonds.
When considering diamond color, the cut of the stone also plays a role. Color is more important than clarity in pear cut, radiant, oval, round, and emerald-cut diamonds. Because of the way they are cut, Asscher, cushion, and radiant cut diamonds need higher gradings of clarity over color.
According to the American Gem Society, there are five factors that affect how clarity is assessed in a diamond. These include size, nature, number, location, and relief along with the number of inclusions (surface flaws). Generally, the larger or more obvious the inclusions and blemishes, the less the diamond clarity grade will be.
Clarity is graded using an 11-point scale developed by the GIA ranging from flawless to inclusions (surface blemishes).
Diamonds range in price, and the value is typically determined more by the clarity and color of the diamond as well as its cut rather than the carat weight. However, you would usually expect to pay anything upwards of $2,500 for a one-carat diamond.
GIA created a clarity scale for diamonds depending on the different diamond inclusions and blemishes. There are grades from FL (Flawless) down to I1, I2, and I3. Each one is based on a diamond’s characteristics.
Diamonds with a I3 grading are the lowest clarity diamond on the scale. While they may seem like a good deal this is hardly ever the case because the diamond inclusions aren’t good and you will most likely get a diamond that is worthless beauty and value-wise than the price.
This grade for clarity of diamonds means that the blemishes and inclusions are not only seen through magnification but also visible to the unaided eye too. An I3 clarity diamond may also be less durable than those with a higher grade.
A diamond inclusion is an imperfection or a blemish that is seen either under magnification or by the unaided eye.