Diamond Clarity

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 CHART

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.

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

Diamond Clarity Chart 1

Diamond Clarity Scale

Diamond clarity ratings on a GIA diamond clarity grading scale:

FL Flawless No inclusions or blemishes found under 10x magnification. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare.
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 naked eye.
VVS1 VVS2 Very, Very Slightly Included 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 visible to the naked eye
SI1

SI2

Slightly Included Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification. Inclusions may or may not be visible to the naked eye.
I1
I2
I3
Included Inclusions are obvious and may affect transparency and/or brilliance. Inclusions are visible to 10x magnification and also to the naked eye and may affect the diamond’s durability.

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

The GIA Colorless range grades include grades D, E and F, and Near Colorless (G, H, I and J grades). If a colorless diamond 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 it and a D 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, as although they may contain some visible inclusions, they will be most likely 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.

So are Flawless or Internally Flawless graded stones really worth the price tag? Diamonds graded VS2 or SI1 do not look that different to the naked eye and the difference from F & IF clarity grades can only be seen under 10x magnification. The decision is yours.

Diamond Plot

DIAMOND CLARITY TIPS:

  • 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

The best quality clarity grade of diamond that you can buy is FL which standards for flawless. However, as a general rule, for diamonds which 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 naked eye. However, using modern techniques, the inclusions are “filled” making them no longer so visible.
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 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, relief along with the number of inclusions (surface flaws). Generally, the larger or more obvious the inclusions, the less the diamond’s 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.