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What is Diamond Clarity?

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Diamond CLarity, Diamond Color, Diamond Cut, Diamond Carat Weight Clarity of a diamond is just as what it says... how clear the diamond is. There are more specific and various definitions of the clarity of diamond.

Clarity of a diamond signifies its property of being free from any imperfections in its crystal structure and inclusions that make each diamond unique. Inclusions can be crystals of other material or another diamond crystal.

Clarity is the evaluation of a diamond's internal and external characteristics. The fewer inclusions or blemishes, the more desirable the diamond.

Clarity is a term used to describe the absence or presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a diamond or other gemstone. A perfect stone with perfect clarity--clearness--is rare, and most flaws that do exist in jewelry grade diamonds cannot be seen without looking at stones through a jeweler's magnifying loupe.

Many organizations have developed systems to grade clarity based on the inclusions and imperfections. Only a trained professional can view these imperfections viewed by magnification of 10X. See the clarity chart on the right to understand the most commonly accepted diamond clarity grades.

What is Inclusions?

Inclusions are internal, that is, inside the diamond. Two of the most common inclusions are crystals and feathers. Crystals are merely minerals trapped inside the diamond; feathers are breaks in the diamond. Blemishes are usually very small and are only on the surface of diamonds.

Diamonds with visible inclusions can look beautiful when framed smartly inside a piece of jewelry, so as to hide the visibility. They can also be improved by cutting and polishing methods. Imperfections in the crystal structure can be tiny cracks which can lead to cloudy and whitish appearance. The number, size, location, orientation and visibility of inclusions can affect the clarity of diamond.

What is Flawless? Is there Such a Thing?

As opposed to the academic grades, the F grade for diamond is the best grade for clarity. F means Flawless. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, with the exceedingly rare "flawless" graded diamond fetching the highest price. Minor inclusions or blemishes are useful, as they can be used as unique identifying marks. The common definition of 'Flawless' refers to the fact that no inclusions can be seen under a standard 10x power jewelers loupe, as truly flawless diamonds are extremely rare.

IF stands for internally flawless, and then FL, which stands for flawless. In your everyday jewelry store, an internally flawless diamond is unusual. D, E, and F-color diamonds are fairly common, especially smaller ones. A combination of D-color and Internally Flawless is rare, and therefore more expensive.

Remember, diamonds are graded from FL Flawless to I3. Flawless is a relative term and this grade can vary from one grading entity to another.

Diamond Clarity Grid

Many grading / rating reports confirm whether or not a diamond has inclusions or blemishes, and if it does, the level of the effect - Flawless, Internally Flawless, Very, Very Small Inclusions, Very Small Inclusions, Small Inclusions and Large Inclusions. The different grades and levels of Diamond Clarity are described in the following Diamond Clarity Scale by specific abbreviations.

Scale AbbreviationScale Description Details of ClarityQuality
F Flawless No internal or external flaws Very Rare and Expensive
IF Internally Flawless No internal flaws Rare and Expensive
VVS1 Very, Very Small Inclusions
Level 1
Very Difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification Expensive
VVS2 Very, Very Small Inclusions
Level 2
Difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification Less Expensive
VS Very Small Inclusions

Inclusions are noticeable to a jeweler under 10x magnification

VS1 Level 1 Inclusions are noticeable to a jeweler under 10x magnification
VS2 Very Small Inclusions
Level 2
Inclusions are noticeable to a jeweler under 10x magnification
SI Small Inclusions Inclusions are easily seen to a jeweler under 10x magnification
SI1 Small Inclusions
Level 1
Inclusions are easily seen under 10x magnification but not visible to naked eye
SI2 Small Inclusions
Level 2
Inclusions are easily seen under 10x magnification but not visible to naked eye
LI Large Inclusions Inclusions are visible to naked eye but minimum loss of brilliance
LI1 Large Inclusions
Level 1
Larger Inclusions visible to naked eye with small loss of brilliance
LI2 Large Inclusions
Level 2
Larger Inclusions visible to naked eye with dulling of brilliance
LI3 Large Inclusions
Level 3
Larger Inclusions visible to naked eye with brilliance diminished Cheapest

High Clarity Diamonds. How Common are They?

The availability of diamonds with high clarity is very low. About 20% of all diamonds mined have clarity ratings good enough to be used as gemstone while the remaining go for industrial use. Of the 20 %, very few diamonds are found to be without any inclusions (called “eye-clean") and are therefore preferred by most buyers, although their price shoots up because of their rarity. Though most inclusions do not affect a diamond’s brilliance and structural integrity, large cracks and cloudiness may affect its ability to disperse and scatter light.

The Age of Diamond?

Every diamond is unique. Each one possesses its own individuality. This could be due to minute traces of other minerals trapped during the crystallization process. These natural characteristics, called 'inclusions' are better described as natures fingerprints and help gemologists determine the age of a diamond. Diamond may be up to 3 billion years old, which is much older than their surface host rock (Harlow, 1998, p. 60).

Although diamond crystals are found in Kimberlite and related rocks, the origin of diamond is more closely related to the fragments of peridotite and eclogite which are derived from the upper mantle, below cratonic (shield) areas. In order for diamonds to form, they require extremely high pressures and temperatures which are only found in these deep levels of the earth. It is here that the rock, eclogite, forms consisting of red pyrope garnet and green clinopyroxene; diamond crystals develop alongside the garnet and pyroxene crystals.


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