GEM CLARITY SCALE
Gemstone clarity refers to the degree to which inclusions (tiny imperfections) are present in the gem. They can be minor inclusions or visible inclusions.
The occurrence, type, and acceptability of inclusions vary from one gemstone to the next. Emeralds, for example, tend to contain visible inclusions and are still more highly valued than most gems. Flawless diamonds, on the other hand, should have no inclusions at all.
However, unlike diamonds, there is no standard grading scale for colored gemstones. Generally, fewer noticeable inclusions or blemishes translate to higher prices. Still, there are some cases in which specific flaws actually increase the value of a stone (like in the case of emerald). Another example of this is the horsetail inclusion in green demantoid garnet.
Thus, the clarity of a colored gemstone must be measured against what is standard for that variety. Aquamarine, for instance, naturally tends to contain fewer inclusions than ruby.
Type 1 Gemstones
Type 1 gemstones include beryl gems, such as aquamarine, heliodor (golden beryl), and morganite; yellow and green chrysoberyl, pale-colored amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, spodumene, tanzanite, diamond, and blue zircon. The gems in this category are usually found to be loupe clean (meaning they have no visible inclusions).
Type 2 Gemstones
Type 2 gemstones are generally found to be eye-clean rather than loupe-clean (meaning they have some inclusions, but these cannot be seen by the naked eye). Type 2 gemstones include amethyst, andalusite, alexandrite, garnet, and peridot.
Type 3 Gemstones
Type 3 gemstones include gem varieties such as green emerald, red beryl (bixbite), and varieties of tourmaline, particularly blue tourmaline (Paraiba tourmaline and Indicolite tourmaline), red (rubellite) tourmaline, pink, and bi-color tourmaline, and multi-color, or watermelon, tourmaline gems.
AAA Gemstone Clarity
AAA” gem clarity grade is assigned to colored stones that are considered “near-perfect”. This means that, although these gemstones do show some variation in color, they are clean, well-cut, and polished. Despite not being loupe clean, AAA quality colored gemstones are the most sought-after precious stones for their perfect cut and vibrant color.
Colored Gemstones’ Clarity Grades
|VVS||very, very small inclusions||VVS I: Minute inclusions, difficult to see under 10X magnification. Eye-clean.
VVS II: Minor inclusions, somewhat easy to see with 10X loupe. Usually eye-clean.
VVS III: Noticeable inclusions under 10X loupe. Usually eye-clean.
|VSI||very small inclusions||VS I: Minor inclusions, somewhat easy to see with 10X loupe. Usually eye-clean.
VS II: Noticeable inclusions under 10X magnification. May be eye visible.
VS III: Obvious inclusions with 10X loupe. May be eye visible.
|SI||small inclusions||SI1 I: Easily noticeable with 10X loupe. Slightly visible to the unaided eye. Usually low relief.
SI1 II: Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X magnification. Apparent to the unaided eye.
SI1 III: Prominent inclusions to the unaided eye.
SI2 I: Easily visible to the unaided eye. Usually low relief.
SI2 II: Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X magnification. Very apparent to the unaided eye.
SI2 III: Very prominent to the unaided eye.