All you need to know about the diamond clarity scale


A diamond, one of the most beautiful offerings of Mother Nature, is the symbol of so many of life’s real moments. They epitomise all things rare and precious, and it is no wonder that diamonds make so many everyday moments so much more beautiful.
What is it about this precious stone that makes it so desirable? What really goes on under its sparkly exterior that adds up to its value? And what does its flawlessness say about its diamond clarity grade?
To understand this, it’s best to have a look at the diamond clarity scale.

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Clear Diamonds

 

The Diamond Clarity Scale

 
The world over, a diamond is judged on the basis of the 4Cs – Clarity, Cut, Colour and Carat. This revolutionary scale first created by the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) helps experts assign an accurate, uniform value to each diamond. It even helps weed out the ones that have no worth.
A diamond clarity grade affects the value of a diamond as a whole but isn’t the only important factor. This grading takes into account any blemishes (any scratches or irregularities on the surface) and inclusions (internal irregularities). They are the broad parameters under which come the several details of the scale.
This is what the scale looks like:

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Diamond clarity scale
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Diamond clarity chart

Most diamonds that are mined come under the VS (very slightly included) or SI (Slightly Included) categories, as per the scale. All diamonds are scrutinised under the very powerful 10x magnification, and experts assess them based on their nature, size, colour, placement, and the number of these characteristics to determine their grade. There are 11 grades as per the diamond clarity chart.  
This is how you decode the scale:
 
Flawless (FL): A diamond rated Flawless has absolutely no inclusions or blemishes that are visible to an expert assessor under 10x magnification.  

Internally Flawless (IF): This grade means no inclusions, and only blemishes can be seen by a skilled assessor using 10x magnification.  

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): VVS1 and VVS2-rated diamonds have inclusions that are difficult even for an expert evaluator to see under 10× magnification.  

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): These diamonds have minor inclusions that a skilled grader can easily spot under 10x magnification.  

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): These diamonds have inclusions that are immediately noticeable to an evaluator under 10x magnification.

Included (I1, I2, and I3): Rated lowest on the scale, I1, I2 and I3-rated diamonds have inclusions that are very apparent under 10× magnification. This may noticeably affect their brilliance and transparency.  
 
This video by the GIA will explain in great detail how diamond evaluators assess diamonds using the diamond clarity scale.
 

 

Frequently asked questions

 
Buying a diamond or diamond jewelry becomes fun when you are armed with the right knowledge of what to look for during the purchase. Always ensure you check the diamond against the diamond clarity grade, compare several diamonds within your budgets before selecting one, get a grade certificate for your diamond from the jeweler, and tips on how to care for it.
In this section, we will deal with some Frequently Asked Questions about diamond purchases with regards to their clarity.
 
My jeweler showed me several diamonds of the same clarity grade that were totally different. How is this possible?
Diamond clarity grading is not an exact science. For instance, an S11 diamond with four visible inclusions can have the same clarity grade as a diamond with six inclusions. It is absolutely normal for diamonds ranking the same on the diamond clarity chart to have very different imperfections.
Ask your jeweler to show you all the diamonds in your budget and ask them pointed questions about its clarity. Take an informed decision basis the scale before selecting your diamond.
 
Does a diamond’s clarity affect its shine and sparkle?
Clarity simply means taking into account the number of blemishes and other imperfections of a diamond. Usually, these inclusions are minuscule and don’t affect its sparkle. In fact, diamonds whose imperfections affect their sparkle will most likely be discarded by gem experts for being too imperfect, in the first place.
 
What diamond clarity should I go for?
If you are completely averse to purchasing a diamond that has too many imperfections even on the inside, it would be best to go for a diamond that falls under the VVS2 category. However, only 10% of the world’s diamonds fall under this grade, so ensure you have a significant budget to buy this diamond.
Most buyers opt for the VS1 or VS2 category since only experts can point out their flaws under 10X magnification. They appear completely flawless to the naked eye. However, if you are hoping to purchase a bigger sized diamond in a conservative budget, you should consider diamonds with SI clarity. These gems have inclusions that are easily visible to an expert’s eye. However, they aren’t apparent to an untrained buyer with no use of magnification.
 
Do I need a certificate of authenticity with my diamonds?
Yes. It’s best to get a diamond certification or grading report from your jeweler whenever you make a purchase. Buy diamonds that are certified by the GIA or the International Gemological Institute (IGI). What’s more, the certificate will specify all the details like your diamond’s clarity, along with its cut, color and carat. This certificate will reassure you of the diamond’s authenticity, keeping you safe from fraud or a scam.
 
What is diamond clarity enhancement?
As a buyer, beware of diamonds that score low on the clarity grade, but whose clarity has been artificially enhanced with the use of technology. Usually, these diamonds have their fractures and inclusions filled with lasers and thus become ‘unnatural’. They can be even 50% cheaper than a pure diamond. However, they can break or crack thanks to the heat they have been subjected to. They have no value as opposed to an untreated diamond.
The best way to detect a clarity enhanced diamond with an untrained eye is to check your certificate of authenticity. Your jeweler will write ‘CE’ somewhere on the certificate since it is mandatory for the certificate to hold all the details of a diamond.

 

To sum up

 
Purchasing diamonds is a big investment, so it’s best to be patient about the process. Educating yourself about the diamond clarity grade will go a long way in making an informed purchase. A carefully-selected piece of diamond jewelry adds a lot of emotional value for the wearer. In fact, it even becomes priceless!

Image credit

  1. www.gia.edu
  2. www.alexanderjeweler.com.au
  3. www.alexanderjeweler.com.au