Diamond clarity is one of the 4 C’s of Diamond Quality. Clarity, along with diamond cut, color, and carat weight, plays a major role in determining a diamond’s value and beauty. Diamond clarity is a measurement of the number, size, and position of characteristics called inclusions and blemishes.
Inclusions refer to internal characteristics in a diamond, while blemishes refer to external characteristics. These characteristics are a result of a diamond’s formation, its crystal structure, the cutting-polishing-setting process, or general wear. Inclusions will generally be totally enclosed within a diamond, but they can also extend into the surface. Blemishes exist only on the external surface of the diamond.
Inclusions and blemishes are often difficult to see without a microscope or experience with evaluating diamonds. The clarity grade is determined by evaluating diamonds at 10x magnification. The grade is determined on the visibility of inclusions and blemishes with the microscope. There are 11 possible clarity grade, ranging from flawless to I3. GIA describes the grades in the following way:
- Flawless (FL): There are no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless (IF): There are no inclusions, and there are “only insignificant” blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2): There are minor inclusions, but they are “extremely difficult” (VVS1) or “very difficult” (VVS2) to see under 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2): There are minor inclusions, but they are “difficult” (VS1) or “somewhat easy” (VS2) to see at 10x magnification.
- Slightly Included (SI1, SI2): There are noticeable inclusions, and they are “easy” (SI1) or “very easy” to see at 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, I3): There are noticeable inclusions, and they are obvious under 10x magnification. They are often visible without magnification, and could affect brilliance.
While some people may refer to these characteristics as “flaws,” most gemologists consider them as identification tools. Diamonds have a unique combination of blemishes and inclusions, which allows these clarity characteristics to act like fingerprints, giving each diamond its own identity. Inclusions can also help in the separation of some natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds.
So long as the blemishes and inclusions don’t have a strong effect on the overall beauty of the diamond, they certainly shouldn’t be considered a flaw. If you aren’t sure if the inclusions and blemishes are having a major impact on your diamond, contact RH Bockstruck to help in your diamond search.