The four c’s of diamond grading -clarity

Continuing our series on the Four C’s of Diamond Grading, this article will explore clarity.

Diamond clarity involves the assessment for small imperfections or birthmarks either on the surface or within the diamond. Surface imperfections are known as blemishes while internal imperfections are known as inclusions. Almost all diamonds have some form of imperfection – which is understandable as they are formed by nature over millions of years. One thing worth noting is the inclusions within a diamond have no impact on the sparkle of the diamond.

In order to assess the clarity of a diamond we refer to the GIA Clarity Scale. This Scale contains 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, colour or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.

Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.

Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification.

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification.

Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

So as a diamond buyer how do you determine the clarity that is right for you? The great majority of Hope Diamonds clients are more than comfortable to accept that their diamond will have smaller birthmarks (inclusions) in them, it’s one of the things that makes every diamond unique. There is a point however where the inclusions take away from the look of the diamond and this is where the inclusions are visible to the naked eye. It is important to note, when a diamond is graded for clarity, it is performed with 10x magnification. Under these conditions most people with some guidance can spot an inclusion within a VS or SI diamond. However as soon as you remove the magnification, the inclusions are impossible to see with the naked eye. This is where the majority of my clients will sit – they are happy as long as the diamond is 100% eye clean.

Some diamond shapes will require a higher clarity grade than others to achieve the mark of 100% eye clean. Emerald, Asscher and Baguette Cut Diamonds are all step cuts and have rectangular facets that are more open. Therefore any inclusions will be more visible than they would be in the brilliant cut diamonds such as Round, Princess, Oval and Pear. So, for the step cuts you would be more inclined to look at VS Clarity at a minimum for an eye clean stone.

When you come in to Hope Diamonds, we can talk you through the clarity and allow you to use the x10 loupe to see how the inclusions look in each clarity grade. We have no issue pointing out the flaws in our diamonds – almost every diamond has some. You can then determine your tolerance to the inclusions. Click here to book an appointment.  

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