Education > Clarity
Level of imperfection
Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics, many of which
are invisible to the unaided eye. Clarity is the degree to which a stone is free
from external marks called blemishes
and internal features called inclusions. Inclusions
normally have a greater impact on grade, value, beauty, and durability than do
When shopping for a diamond, the
goal is to decide what level of these imperfections is appropriate for this particular
purchase. A certain level of imperfections can be to your advantage since they
act as a fingerprint to help identify your diamond. These imperfections can lower
the price of the diamond to make it affordable without affecting its beauty to
The position of an inclusion affects how readily it can be
seen. Cutters call the area seen through the table the heart of the stone and
make every effort to cut a stone so that inclusions are not visible through the
table of the finished stone. The preferred position for inclusions is under the
facets or near the girdle
because they are less noticeable there.
are located where they cause multiple reflections in the pavilion facets when
you look at the stone from the top. Such reflectors lower the clarity grade more
than similar non-reflecting inclusions.
What follows is the clarity rating system used by diamond
free from internal blemishes visible under 10x
magnification (small external details tolerated);
V.V.S.1: very very slightly included:
inclusions and/or external blemishes very very difficult to locate under 10x magnification;
V.V.S.2: very very slightly included:
inclusions and/or external blemishes very difficult to locate under 10x magnification;
V.S.1: very slightly included:
inclusions and external blemishes difficult
to locate under 10x magnification;
V.S.2: very slightly included:
inclusions and external blemishes rather
difficult to locate under 10x magnification;
inclusions and external blemishes rather easy to
locate under 10x magnification;
inclusions and external blemishes easy to locate
under 10x magnification;
inclusions and external blemishes very easy to locate
under 10x magnification;
inclusions and external blemishes easy to locate with
naked eye; and
heavy inclusions located with naked eye.
last two clarity steps are not sold at Diamond World.
The following diagrams show what inclusions
and blemishes look like in the different clarity grades when viewed with 10X magnification.
You can use a loupe or microscope to see these characteristics, many of which
will not be visible to the unaided eye.
person will have a very difficult time trying to find inclusions or blemishes
in FI, IF, VVS1, or VVS2 grades even with a microscope. There is no visible difference
in beauty or appearance once the clarity is clean to the eye with VS clarity.
These high clarity grades should only be considered if you are willing to pay
the price for higher quality knowing that does not have an impact on appearance.
VS1 and VS2 graded stones have very small inclusions that are difficult to
find even when viewed with 10X magnification. Typical inclusions are small crystals
or feathers, distinct clouds and groups of pinpoints. They do not impact the diamond's
beauty and are very high quality diamonds.
SI1 and SI2 are the two most
common grades for the typical buyer. These grades have inclusions or blemishes
when viewed with 10X magnification. Most SI1 clarity diamonds should be "eye-clean,"
which means the flaws can't be seen with the unaided eye when viewed from the
top. These are good quality diamonds and provide great beauty at a very reasonable
price. Most SI2 clarity diamonds have inclusions visible to the unaided eye.
There are some SI clarity diamonds that have inclusions easily visible to the
unaided eye and should only be used for earrings or pendants, not for engagement
Advice: For diamonds with many facets (i.e., round brilliant),
it is extremely difficult to see the difference between SI1 and higher grades
even with a loupe or microscope. Therefore, target SI1 or VS2 as the best clarity
values with outstanding beauty. For step cut shapes like emeralds and Asschers,
we recommend at least VS2 clarity diamonds since these stones are so transparent
and inclusions are easier to see with the eye.
A diamond is the hardest thing in the world, but not the toughest.
Diamonds can get abrasions or even chipped through normal wear and tear. When
diamonds rub together while being stored, they may get scratched or abraded (minute
scratches and pits along facet edges). Be careful any time that diamonds might
come in contact with another diamond. Diamonds are valuable objects and should
not be abused. Read
more on Diamond Care
How to look
are clarity graded face up (looking at the top of the diamond), not from the side
or bottom of the diamond. We have the most problem with clarity where the inclusions
are not visible with the eye from the top of the diamond but are visible from
the side. When viewing a diamond from the side, the middle third of the diamond
is generally very transparent.
If an inclusion is in this
part of the diamond and happens to be turned broadside to your view, it can be
much more visible than when viewed from the top where there are many facets to
hide its appearance. If the diamond is going to be visible from the side in the
setting, make sure your diamond is clean to the eye from the top and the side,
regardless of what clarity grade it has.
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