Understanding Diamond Clarity with Stewart Kuper Jewelers
First things first: Happy New Year!
We’re diving right in to 2020, our best year yet! What does that mean? It means helping our customers get the perfect pieces and helping them feel confident in their diamond and jewelry purchases, giving them the knowledge to make informed choices they will be proud of. We are going to start 2020 with the 4 C’s of Diamonds: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. This time let’s kick things off with diamond clarity.
To put it simply, diamond clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes in the diamond. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the simplest. Let’s define inclusions and blemishes and that will help clear things up!
Inclusions & Blemishes
Diamonds are formed under intense pressure and incredible heat deep in the planet. While this process happens, characteristics that can be considered ‘flaws’ develop inside and outside the diamond. These are smaller crystals that get trapped in the diamond’s structure, or an irregularity in its atomic structure develops. The internal flaws are called inclusions, while those on the exterior, the surface, are called blemishes.
To determine diamond clarity, gemologists evaluate the diamond based on the number, size, nature, position, and other factors of the inclusions and blemishes. These allow professionals, using 10x magnification, to grade the diamonds using the GIA Clarity Scale.
A diamond graded as flawless has no inclusions or blemishes visible under a 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF)
The diamond has no inclusions, but blemishes are visible under 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included 1 and 2 (VVS1, VVS2)
These have very tiny inclusions that are extremely difficult to see, even with 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included 1 and 2 (VSI1, VSI2)
Minor inclusions in the diamond that can range from difficult to somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification.
Slightly Included 1 and 2 (SI1, SI2)
Inclusions are noticeable, ranging from easy to very easy to see, under 10x magnification.
Included 1, 2, and 3 (I1, I2, I3)
Inclusions are obvious to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.
So what does all that mean for you? Well, you may have noticed in those different grading ranks the use of ‘under 10x magnification’ and ‘skilled grader.’ That’s because this is a ranking done by professionals. For many inclusions and blemishes, the flaws may be too minute to be seen by anyone not trained to spot them and not using specific tools. That said, inclusions and blemishes can affect the diamond’s overall brilliance, making the difference between a FL and SI1 noticeable.
How Important is Diamond Clarity?
Of the Four C’s, clarity perhaps has the smallest impact on the overall beauty of the diamond. It’s important, yes, but the color, the cut, and the carat are all much more tightly tied to the overall appearance of the stone.
Inclusions and blemishes can affect the brilliance of the stone, hindering the light that would otherwise bounce through and across its many facets, but it isn’t as immediately recognizable as the cut of the diamond for instance. Now, further down the scale, say into the I1, I2, and I3 range, the clarity of the diamond can have a huge impact on the overall beauty of the stone, no matter the dazzling cut. The diamond might appear cloudy or even cracked at the lower grades.
Hopefully this basic primer on diamond clarity helps you understand one of the four key components to a diamond’s value and appearance. If you have any questions, or are looking for a stone with the best clarity you can find, don’t hesitate to give us a call and schedule your appointment today! We’re proud to work with our clients by appointment only to ensure we deliver the finest service, as well as the finest stones!