Diamond - Clarity « BACK

The second C of diamonds is Clarity .Clarity is one of the fundamental attributes of a diamond and it is determined by the size, number position and nature of the inclusions, or internal characteristics of a stone. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy.

The number, size, color, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other organizations have developed systems to grade clarity, which are based on those inclusions which are visible to a trained professional when a diamond is viewed under 10x magnification.

Diamond clarity is graded according to the size, number, positioning, nature and overall visibility of the inclusions and blemishes affecting a stone. As set out by the GIA , the scale ranges from Flawless (FL/IF) where the diamond is completely free of inclusions, to Included (I3) where it has prominently visible inclusions Diamonds become increasingly rare when considering higher clarity gradings.

Only about 20% of all diamonds mined have a clarity rating high enough for the diamond to be considered appropriate for use as a gemstone; the other 80% are relegated to industrial use. Of that top 20%, a significant portion contains one or more visible inclusions. Inclusions and blemishes are structural imperfections which affect the clarity grading of diamonds. Inclusions are largely crystals of diamond or a foreign material that has formed within the stone affecting the internal composition, while blemishes are flaws which affect the stone's surface. The size, number, colour, location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions and blemishes are all taken into account when evaluating the clarity of a diamond.

Those that do not have a visible inclusion are known as "eye-clean" and are preferred by most buyers, although visible inclusions can sometimes be hidden under the setting in a piece of jewelry. Most inclusions present in gem-quality diamonds do not affect the diamonds' performance or structural integrity. When set in jewelry, it may also be possible to hide certain inclusion behind mounting hardware such as prongs in a way that renders the defect invisible. However, large clouds can affect a diamond's ability to transmit and scatter light. Large cracks close to or breaking the surface may increase the likelihood of a fracture. Diamonds are graded by the major societies on a scale ranging from flawless to imperfect.The GIA scale for calrity is -

FL / IF Flawless or Internally Flawless. Best reason to buy one is so you can say "I have a flawless diamond!"
VVS1 / VVS2 Very, Very Small Inclusions. Requires 60X magnification to clearly see inclusions. Usually not practical, but some VVS diamonds sell for only a slight bit more than VS diamonds.
VS1 / VS2 Very Small Inclusions. Requires 30X magnification to clearly see inclusions. A good choice for someone wishing to balance high quality with relative affordability.
SI1 / SI2 Small Inclusions. Generally requires 10X magnification to clearly see inclusions. Many larger SI diamonds are not completely eye clean. SI1 diamonds are some of the best values to be found anywhere. SI2 diamonds can be great diamonds, but should be considered individually to ensure quality.
SI3/ I1 Imperfect. Eye-Visible Inclusions. Usually the most practical choice for earrings, pendants, or folks shopping on a budget. Many GIA "I1" diamonds have tiny, subtle inclusions that are difficult to detect.
I2 / I3 Imperfect. Borderline drillbit material. Should only be purchased when a "bluff" diamond is the primary objective.