Diamond Clarity

Mother Nature is not absolutely perfect. Diamonds are not perfect either. These imperfections can be divided into two categories:

Internal and External

Internal features are called inclusions, while external surface irregularities are called blemishes. Combined, we call them clarity characteristics. Clarity is one of the four traditional value factors that describe and determine the value of a finished diamond. Inclusions are on the inside of the diamond they also may extend from the surface of the stone into the interior. Inclusions in Diamond normally have more of an effect on on a stones beauty and value as these generally cannot be removed where as with blemishes these can usually be removed. Blemishes include things like scratches or nicks on the surface of the diamond. Diamonds with no clarity characteristics are more rare and more valuable than diamonds that have just a few. The industry standard clarity grading is done with a loupe of 10X (10-Power). Diamond grades are always determined at 10X. The two types of instruments used most in the jewelry industry are the loupe and binocular microscope.

Clarity Grading Factors

Five factors determine the clarity grade:

  • Size: Large inclusions affect clarity more than small ones
  • Number: It is not just a matter of counting inclusions. A stone might have many small inclusions and still have a high clarity grade, one or two of the largest inclusion usually set the grade
  • Position: An inclusions position also affects its visibility,inclusion are more visible under the table than they are under the bezel facets or near the girdle
  • Nature: The nature of diamond's inclusion also influences its clarity grade. Large feathers have a greater impact on the clarity grade than any other inclusions
  • Visibility: Dark inclusions are easier to see so they have a greater impact on the clarity grade than colorless inclusions

The Clarity Grades

  • FL-Flawless: Flawless diamonds show no inclusions or blemishes of any kind while examined under 10X magnification. A flawless diamond can still have the following characteristics and still remain Flawless: 1. Extra facet not seen in the face up view. 2. Naturals on the girdle so long as they do not distort the outline. These are rare.
  • IF- Internally Flawless: Internally Flawless diamonds show no inclusions using 10X magnification. They will have some minor blemishes such as surface grain lines naturals and extra facets. These are rare.
  • VVS1VVS2- Very Very Slightly Included: VVS diamonds contain very small inclusions that are difficult for experienced graders to see under 10X magnification and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Inclusions may be pinpoints, tiny feathers, internal raining, tiny cavities or slight bearding on the girdle.
  • VS1VS2- Very Slightly Included: VS diamonds contain small or minor inclusions viewed under 10X magnification with slight difficulty. VS diamonds typically have small clouds, feathers, included crystal and needles.
  • SI1SI2-Slightly Included: SI diamonds contain Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10X magnification. A SI1 in most cases should be eye clean. While the inclusions of a SI2 can be easily seen by the naked eye. Typical inclusions are clouds, cavities, knots, crystals, or feathers.
  • I1 I2 and I3 Included: Diamonds that fall in the I range contain inclusions that can be easily seen with the naked eye and very easily seen under 10X magnification. They may contain large crystals and include feathers where, in some cases, may affect brilliance and transparency. I3 categories often lack durability and transparency.

Plotting Symbols, Abbreviations and Photographic Examples

Graders use a set of standardized symbols to indicate the relative size,number,position,and nature of inclusions and blemishes. No plot can reproduce the actual appearance of a stone.Many plots look more busier and cluttered than the stones they represent. Its important to realize the actual size of the diamond is much smaller than the actual plot on the document so are the inclusions in addition the plot is flat and one dimensional versus the actual diamond and inclusion which is three dimensional .A plot with crown and pavilion views shows the factors that influenced the grade. Note not all clarity characteristics are recorded on the plots,only those that identify the stone and set the grade.There is also a comments section where clarity characteristics are noted for example extra clouds not shown In the end all inclusions are accounted for either on the plot or in the comments
VVS1VVS2 InclusionNeedleGrainingSurface GrainingInternal GrainingClevage Cavity indented naturalPolishing Lines Plotting symbols and abbreviationsFeathers and Crystals Feather and Crystal Natural Bearded Girdle Nick and ChipCloudCRystalPinpoint