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Diamond Clarity

You’ve probably heard that no two diamonds are exactly alike. That’s because, during the growth process, microscopic impurities known as “inclusions” will form, giving the each stone its own unique personality. After inspection, a clarity grade is assigned by the GIA based on the type and placement of any inclusions and how they impact the overall stone.

Whether you’re looking for the most sparkle for a pair of diamond earrings or an engagement ring or you want to learn how to work around the flaws of a stone and bring out its natural beauty, here’s what you need to know about diamond clarity.

Diamond Clarity and PriceDiamond Clarity and Price

Diamond Clarity and Price

A flawless diamond with little to no imperfections is often desired due to its rarity, but they are also the most expensive. The importance of clarity in diamonds when it comes to price can vary depending on what the stone is being used for. For example, if the diamond is for a solitaire engagement ring, high clarity might be more important than it would be for a small accent stone on a necklace.

While the highest clarity grade is always preferred, when paired with the right cut and jewelry style, a stone with a lower clarity grade can be better for your budget — and still be the diamond of your dreams.

Clarity in Diamonds

Only about 2% of the world's diamonds are considered flawless. Most are formed with slight imperfections — these are known as inclusions. Inclusions can appear as tiny white points, dark dots, cracks, or scratches. The fewer inclusions, the more valuable the stone.

Types of Flaws

There are two types of flaws a diamond can have — external and internal. These flaws not only impact value and price but can also indicate your diamond's vulnerability since heavily included diamonds can be prone to breakage.

When looking at your diamond through a loupe or Gemscope, you will see what is essentially your diamond's fingerprint. These flaws may include:
Clarity in DiamondsClarity in Diamonds

External Flaws

  • Natural: Unpolished surface; the original "skin" of a rough diamond
  • Cleavage or feather: Inclusion along atomic grain
  • Pit: Small indentation on a flat surface
  • Fracture: Irregular shaped break
  • Cavity: An opening on the surface
  • Nick: Minor surface chip
  • Scratch: Small groove (can be due to wear and tear)
  • Chip: Broken along external edge
  • Laser Drill Hole: Clarity enhancements to remove or reduce the appearance of inclusions

Internal Flaws

  • Included: Inclusions within the diamond
  • Carbon spot: Included crystal
  • Grain/twinning: Irregularity in crystal
  • Pinpoint: Small included crystal (appears white)
  • Cloud: Group of pinpoints
  • Internal grain line: Visible part of internal grain structure
  • Scratch: Small groove (can be due to wear and tear)
  • Chip: Broken along external edge
  • Bearded or feathered girdle: Minute to small hairline fracture extending from girdle into stone

Diamond Clarity Chart

The GIA Diamond Clarity Grade scale has five main categories of clarity characteristics with 11 grades in all. Most jewelry stores carry VVS as their highest grade. VS or SI are considered by most to be "fine quality" diamonds. Here’s how clarity is measured:

Today's oval became popular in the 1960s. It displays the round shape's fire and brilliance but creates the illusion of a longer finger.
Grade(s) Description
A flawless diamond F Flawless inside and out
An internally flawless diamond IF Internally flawless — blemishes on the surface but not inside the diamond
A very, very slightly included diamond VVS1, VVS2 Very, very slightly included
A very slightly included diamond VS1, VS2 Very slightly included
A slightly included diamond SI1, SI2 Slightly included
An included diamond I1, I2, I3 Included and detectable with the eye

The Other 3CsThe Other 3Cs

The Other 3Cs

What diamond cut is best for you?

How important is carat weight, really?

Evaluating the color of a “colorless” diamond.

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