Diamond Clarity I1

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Diamond clarity is one of the 4C’s you need to know when buying a diamond. Diamond clarity describes a diamond's imperfections or “inclusions” to assess its grade.

What Is Diamond Clarity?

One of the 4 C’s to consider when grading a diamond, diamond clarity assesses any imperfections both on the surface and inside the diamond. Imperfections within the stone are called inclusions, while imperfections on the surface are called blemishes. The less inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the better clarity grade it receives. 

Diamond Clarity Chart

Highest Clarity Grade                                                                                Lowest Clarity Grade

FL

IF

VVS1, VVS2

VS1, VS2

SI1, SI2,

I1, I2, I3

Flawless

Internally Flawless

Very Very Slightly Included

Very Slightly Included

Slightly Included

Included

 

How Are Diamond Clarity Grades Determined?

Diamond clarity grades are determined by using the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) clarity scale. This scale was developed because previously, jewelers didn’t have an established and universal way to talk about diamond clarity. Using the GIA scale is now standard practice when evaluating and purchasing diamonds.

The GIA scale has 11 different grades. Here’s a brief explanation of what each grade means: 

Flawless (FL)

While each diamond is unique, Flawless, or FL diamonds come as close to perfect as possible. Flawless diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes detected by a skilled grader under 10X magnification. Flawless diamonds are incredibly rare.

Internally Flawless (IF)

Internally Flawless diamonds have no inclusions and only blemishes visible to a skilled grader under 10X magnification. IF diamonds are still incredibly rare!

VVS1 and VVS2

Very very slightly included diamonds have incredibly marginal inclusions that range from extremely to very difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10X magnification. 

VS1 and VS2

Very slightly included diamonds have minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to detect under 10X magnification.

SI1, SI2

Slightly included diamonds have noticeable inclusions that range from easy to very easy to see for a skilled grader to detect under 10X magnification. You’ll usually be able to detect these inclusions by taking a careful look at the diamond. 

I1, I2, I3

Included diamonds have obvious inclusions and are clearly visible to a skilled grader under 10X magnification. This clarity grade can affect brilliance and transparency. 

What Affects Diamond Clarity?

There are five different factors that affect diamond clarity: size, nature, position, color, and quantity of inclusions and blemishes. While these factors are evaluated in a complex way, generally the larger or severe the inclusion, the more this inclusion will affect the clarity grade. 

Understanding The Different Types Of Diamond Inclusions

There are many types of diamond inclusions. Below is a brief description of each inclusion type: 

Bearding:  Small hairs gathering around the girdle (widest) area due to improper bruting process. While small amounts of bearding is okay, grey fuzzy bearding is not. 

Graining: Whitish or colored reflective lines. Graining is caused by irregular internal crystal growth. 

Cavity:  A deep opening in the crystal’s surface, often created during the polishing process. 

Crystals: Tiny pockets of minerals inside the diamond. Sometimes crystals are tiny embedded diamonds, carbon, or other jewels. Colored crystal inclusions are undesirable, while colorless ones have less impact on clarity grade. 

Cloud: Broad classification of crystal or pinpoint clusters. Depending on the cloud, it can affect the diamond’s transparency. Large clouds have a hazy effect.

Feather: A small crack in the diamond which can be invisible or catch light, depending on where the feather is. Large, severe feathers sometimes have undesirable coloring, or can make the diamond less durable. Avoid large feather inclusions, especially near the girdle area. 

Needle: A thin, needle shaped inclusion that looks like a tiny rod inside the diamond, which can be transparent or whitish. 

Pinpoints: Tiny white or black embedded crystals in the diamond. Pinpoints are the least offensive type of inclusion. 

Twinning Wisps: Made up of a combination of different inclusions and look wavy and ribbon-like. Twinning wisps are a result of growth defects within the diamond’s crystal structure. 

Chip: A small opening on the surface of the diamond. This inclusion is usually man-made during polishing or setting. 

Indented Natural: A part of the diamond that dips below its polished surface, revealing the rough surface of the diamond. 

Is Diamond Clarity Important When Buying A Ring?

While a diamond’s clarity grade has a significant impact on its price, it’s not always the most important of the 4C’s to consider. Remember, most blemishes and inclusions can’t be detected by the naked eye. Clarity is less important when it doesn’t appear to affect the diamond’s brilliance or durability. As long as clarity isn’t a top priority, you can get away with a lower clarity grade to opt for a higher carat, with little to no visible difference!

Clarity is most important when the clarity grade is quite low, and inclusions are visible. Beware of visible, unsightly inclusions sometimes seen in slightly included or included diamonds. 

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