Gemstone Clarity


Gemstone Clarity

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.

Gemstone Types

Gemstone Types

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

Gem Clarity Chart
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.

Frequently Asked Questions

A diamonds are graded for clarity under a 10X microscope and an expert human eye. Gemstones that have no inclusions or blemishes would be regarded as FL or flawless. The scale has 11 ratings going down to I3, which means that there are several inclusions which will be visible to the naked eye.
Jewellers will use the 4Cs to judge the quality of a gemstone and these stand for: Carat Weight, Cut, Colour and Clarity. Obviously, the higher the clarity, the better the cut and the clearer the colour; the higher quality the stone. Carat Weight is important in terms of value, but a less important factor when it comes to quality.
It is generally accepted that the colour grade has more significance than the clarity when it comes to judging the quality of gemstones. Even SI1 and SI2 gems will have inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye, but the colour will be more obvious. Therefore, you should always choose the colour over clarity when selecting a gemstone such as a diamond.
The highest quality of gemstone would be given a “AAA” grading, and they would be described as “being near perfect”. They may show slight variations in colour, but they will have a higher clarity rating and be well cut and polished.
The 4C’s help determines the quality and value of a gemstone: Carat Weight, Cut, Colour and Clarity.
VVS stands for the very, very small inclusions clarity grade on the clarity scale for gemstones.
An SI2 diamond is a diamond that will have inclusions visible to the naked eye. This means that you can spot mid-sized inclusions on closer inspection. Choosing a cut like a round brilliant cut which has 57 facets is a smart way to reduce the appearance of inclusions and save money on price higher clarity grade diamonds.
Of the 4C’s, clarity is the element that affects sparkle the least. Cut and color tend to impact sparkle more.