Gemstone clarity refers to the degree to which inclusions (tiny imperfections) are present. They can be minor inclusions or visible inclusions.
The occurrence, type, and acceptability of inclusions vary from gemstone to gemstone. Emeralds, for example, tend to contain visible inclusions and can still be valued highly despite this.
Unlike diamonds, there is no standard grading scale for colored gemstones. Fewer flaws or noticeable inclusions generally translate to higher prices, though there are some cases in which specific flaws actually increase value. One example of this is horsetail inclusion in green demantoid garnet.
The clarity of a colored gemstone must be compared to what is standard for that variety. Aquamarine, for instance, naturally tends to contain fewer inclusions than a ruby.
Type 1 Gemstones
Type 1 gemstones include beryl gems, such as aquamarine, heliodor (golden precious beryl) and morganite; yellow and green chrysoberyl, pale color amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, spodumene, tanzanite and blue zircon.
Type 2 Gemstones
Type 2 gemstones usually have inclusions but are found to be eye clean rather than loupe clean as Type 1 gems often are. Type 2 gemstones include amethyst, andalusite, alexandrite, garnet and peridot amongst others.
Type 3 Gemstones
Type 3 gemstones include gems such as green emerald, red beryl (bixbite) and varieties of tourmaline, particular blue tourmaline (Pariaba tourmaline and Indicolite tourmaline) red (rubellite) tourmaline, as well as pink, bi-color tourmaline and multi-color or watermelon tourmaline.
AAA Gemstone Clarity
“AAA” grade gem clarity level is assigned to a gemstone that is considered to “being near perfect.” Though these stones do show some variation in colour, they are clean, well cut and polished. AAA quality gemstones are the most sought out precious stones, for their perfect cut and vibrant color.
Gemstone Clarity Grades
|VVS||very, very small inclusions||VVS I: Minute inclusions, difficult to see under 10X. Eye clean.
VVS II: Minor inclusions, somewhat easy to see with 10X. Usually eye clean.
VVS III: Noticeable inclusions under 10X. Usually eye clean.
|VSI||very small inclusions||VS I: Minor inclusions, somewhat easy to see with 10X. Usually eye-clean.
VS II: Noticeable inclusions under 10X. May be eye visible.
VS III: Obvious inclusions with 10X. May be eye visible.
|SI||small inclusions||SI1: Easily noticeable with 10X. Slightly visible to the unaided eye. Usually low relief.
SI1 II: Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X. Apparent to unaided eye.
SI1 III: Prominent to the unaided eye.
SI2I: Easily visible to the unaided eye. Usually low relief.
SI2 II: Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X. Very apparent to the unaided eye.
SI2 III: Very prominent to the unaided eye.