Here's what you need to know about the clarity of a diamond...
So, Why Is Clarity Important?
Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called 'inclusions' and external characteristics called 'blemishes.
Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS, and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of clarity is extremely important.
The GIA Clarity Scale has six categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
No inclusions and no blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification
INTERNALLY FLAWLESS (IF)
No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification
VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (VVS1, AND VVS2)
Minute inclusions that range from extremely difficult to very difficult to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification
VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (VS1 AND VS2)
Minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification
SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (SI1 AND SI2)
Noticeable inclusions that range from easy to very easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification
INCLUDED (I1, I2, AND I3)
Obvious inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What clarity is the best?
A: We recommend that you select an "eye-clean" diamond — one that has no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. An excellent value, diamonds of this clarity are much less expensive than IF- or FL-grade diamonds and typically do not contain visible inclusions that detract from the beauty of the diamond. If you're considering an SI grade diamond, call to speak to a diamond and jewelry consultant who will review the diamond to ensure the inclusions are not visible with the unaided eye. But, if you'd rather not compromise on clarity yet are budget conscious, choose a diamond with a good cut and G or H color.
Q: How did the GIA Clarity Scale come to be?
A: Like the color scale, the GIA Clarity Grading System developed because jewelers were using terms that could be misinterpreted, such as "loupe clean" or "piqué." Today, if you buy a diamond somewhere else in the world, the jeweler will most likely use terms like VVS, or SL, even if his or her language is French or Japanese instead of English.
Q: What causes inclusions?
A: Small crystals can become trapped in a diamond when it's forming. Sometimes as a crystal grows it can develop irregularities in its atomic structure.
Q: How is diamond clarity evaluated?
A: Diamond clarity is graded under standard viewing conditions with 10x magnification. The preliminary GIA grader carefully examines the diamond in order to identify clarity/finish characteristics and evidence of any clarity treatments, such as fracture filling or laser drilling. A minimum of two GIA graders assign their impression of the diamond's clarity, polish, and symmetry. Next, they plot the clarity characteristics on the diagram most representative of the diamond's shape and faceting style.