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The Blog

Diamond Clarity

Out of the 4 C’s of diamond quality (color, clarity, carat weight, and cut), clarity is perhaps the most misunderstood term. The clarity of a diamond describes the natural imperfections, referred to as inclusions or blemishes, in a diamond. There are different grades of clarity which depend on a number of factors: size, number, position, nature, and relief.  While it is not necessary to have a flawless diamond, it is important to have one that would be clean to the eye of most imperfections and without any hazy or milky appearance.  We find that most of our clients are happy with diamonds in the VS (very slight) to SI (slightly included range) as these provide the best value and usually ensure a beautiful face up appearance.

There are also about 30 different classifications of inclusion types from internal mineral crystals, feathers, needles, and clouds, to external imperfections like extra facets, polish lines, and pits. These inclusions can come in every shape, color, and nature, therefore, each diamond is as individual as a fingerprint and no two are the same.

The size of an inclusion naturally makes it easier or harder to see. A large crystal is much easier to see than a tiny one, so the larger it is, the lower the clarity grade can be. The number of inclusions also greatly influences clarity, where one tiny crystal will make a much higher grade than many large crystals.

The position of an inclusion is extremely important. An inclusion right in the center of a diamond automatically makes it more visible, whereas an inclusion closer to the side of a diamond will raise the clarity grade, depending on how easy it is to see without magnification.

The nature of inclusions defines a number of the other factors together. For instance, a large feather that reaches the surface of the stone and is clearly visible, not only lowers the clarity grade greatly, but could potentially be hazardous in a location where a large internal break hit hard enough could break off.  Also diamonds with a large collection of pinpoints, referred to as clouds, can sometimes appear hazy and milky which is why you need to have a trained eye look at the diamond before purchasing.  We avoid these stones!

Relief is how the inclusion appears, as well as its color. A black, opaque inclusion is not only easy to see, but easily reflects off of other facets, making it look like multiple. A completely colorless and transparent feather is very difficult to see.

Diamond Clarity ChartAll of these factors are considered together, as the stone must be graded as a whole based on the entire appearance. Once these questions are answered, a clarity grade can be given to the diamond, which in the GIA laboratory is done by three diamond graders before officially recorded. The clarity grades are: Flawless, Internally Flawless, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, and I3. At Lauren B, we always take the time to clearly explain the difference and meaning between these clarity grades and how they are applied to the stones we are working with. There are many tricks to choosing well-balanced stones that are bright and beautiful, and our associates have the knowledge and experience to help you make a very well-informed decision!