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Diamond Clarity

Learn About Diamond Clarity

A diamond's clarity refers to the presence of identifying characteristics on and within the diamond. While most of these clarity characteristics are inherent qualities of the rough diamond and have been present since the earliest stages of the diamond crystal's growth below ground, a few clarity flaws are actually a result of the harsh stress that a diamond undergoes during the cutting process itself.

The process of the growth and creation of a diamond inside the earth does not occur evenly, but in several phases. In each phase, the conditions such as temperature, pressure and cooling are not the same and do not always remain constant. As a result, most diamonds contain what are called inclusions, internal features caused by the constantly changing conditions during different phases of the diamond's creation. These inclusions come in many forms including cloud-like features, fracture or tension cracks or even enclosed minerals that were present during the growth process of the diamond.

Rough Diamonds

Diamonds are graded for clarity under 10x loupe magnification. Clarity grades range from Internally Flawless, diamonds which are completely free of blemishes and inclusions even under 10x magnification, to Included 3, diamonds which possess large, heavy blemishes and inclusions that are visible to the naked eye.

Diamond Clarity

 What Effect Does Clarity Have on Diamonds?
A diamond's clarity grade has an impact on the diamond's value, not on the unmagnified appearance of the diamond. Diamonds with no or few inclusions and blemishes are more highly valued than those with a lower clarity grade because they are very rare.

While Flawless diamonds are the rarest, a diamond does not have to be flawless to be beautiful. Diamonds with clarity grades of VVS and VS are excellent choices for both value and appearance. More affordable are diamonds which gemologists call "eye-clean" - diamonds with no inclusions visible to the naked eye.

Contrary to popular belief, higher clarity does not always mean more beautiful. If the inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, a higher clarity does not really improve the appearance of a diamond but rather the rarity and price. A higher clarity is more desirable and valuable, but knowing that you have selected the right clarity for the right reasons is most important.

Diamond Grading - Diamond Clarity - Diamond Inclusions

 What Are Diamond Inclusions?
There are many different types of inclusions that are used to grade the clarity of a diamond. The more common inclusions are as follows:

 Pinpoint: A very small white dot on the surface of the stone. By far, the most common flaw

 Carbons: A very small black dot on the surface of the stone. Less common than pinpoints

 Feathers: Small cracks within the stone, similar in look to broken glass. Small internal feathers are harmless (other than lowering the clarity rating of the diamond), but large feathers can become a problem because the crack can grow as the diamond ages

 Clouds: Hazy areas within the diamond, actually made up of many small crystals that are impossible to see individually

 Crystal Growth: A small crystalline growth within the diamond. Looks like a small diamond within the big diamond.

Almost all diamonds contain inclusions. In addition to internal inclusions, surface irregularities are referred to as blemishes. These two categories of imperfections-inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external)-make up clarity. The fewer the imperfections, the rarer and more valuable the diamond. Many inclusions are not discernable to the naked eye and require magnification to become apparent.

Clarity is graded using a very precise and complex method of evaluating the size, location, and visibility of inclusions. Diamond inclusions are not visible to the average naked eye until the I1-I3 clarities. Below is the technical clarity scale with a description of each term.

Diamond Clarity Grades - Diamond Clarity - Diamond Inclusions GIA Diamond Clarity Grades  Diamond Clarity Grades - Diamond Clarity

 Diamond Clarity Grades
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has designated that clarity of diamonds is graded under the following guidelines:

Diamonds that are free from internal and external flaws under 10X magnification.

 Internally Flawless
Diamonds that are absolutely free from internal faults under 10X magnification. Internally Flawless diamonds may contain small blemishes on the diamond surface visible to a skilled grader under 10x magnification.

 Very Very Slightly Included
Very, Very Slightly Included category (VVS) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. The VVS category is divided into two grades; VVS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VVS2.

 Very Slightly Included
Very Slightly Included category (VS) diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The VS category is divided into two grades; VS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VS2. Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however infrequently some VS2 inclusions may still be visible to the eye.

 Slightly Included
Slightly Included category (SI) diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to very easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The SI category is divided into two grades; SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.

Included category (I) diamonds have obvious inclusions that are clearly visible to a trained grader under 10x magnification. Included diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible without magnification or have inclusions that may affect the transparency, brilliance and the durability of the diamond. The I category is divided into three grades; I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the unaided eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to effect the structure of the diamond.

Diamond Clarity Chart Clarity Grade Chart

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