Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics,
many of which are invisible to the unaided eye. Clarity is the degree to which
a stone is free from external marks called blemishes and internal features called
inclusions. Inclusions normally have a greater impact on grade, value, beauty,
and durability than do blemishes.
When shopping for a diamond, the goal
is to decide what level of these imperfections is appropriate for this particular
purchase. A certain level of imperfections can be to your advantage since they
act as a fingerprint to help identify your diamond. These imperfections can lower
the price of the diamond to make it affordable without affecting its beauty to
The position of an inclusion affects how readily it can be seen.
Cutters call the area seen through the table the heart of the stone and make every
effort to cut a stone so that inclusions are not visible through the table of
the finished stone. The preferred position for inclusions is under the bezel facets
or near the girdle because they are less noticeable there.
are located where they cause multiple reflections in the pavilion facets when
you look at the stone from the top. Such reflectors lower the clarity grade more
than similar non-reflecting inclusions.
What follows is the clarity rating system used by diamond
I.F.: internally flawless:
free from internal
blemishes visible under 10x magnification (small external details tolerated);
V.V.S.1: very very slightly included:
inclusions and/or external blemishes
very very difficult to locate under 10x magnification;
very slightly included:
inclusions and/or external blemishes very difficult
to locate under 10x magnification;
V.S.1: very slightly included:
inclusions and external blemishes difficult to locate under 10x magnification;
V.S.2: very slightly included:
inclusions and external blemishes rather difficult
to locate under 10x magnification;
S.I.1: slightly included:
and external blemishes rather easy to locate under 10x magnification;
S.I.2: slightly included:
inclusions and external blemishes easy to locate
under 10x magnification;
P.1- I.1: imperfect:
external blemishes very easy to locate under 10x magnification;
inclusions and external blemishes easy to locate with naked
P.3- I.3: imperfect:
heavy inclusions located with naked
The last two clarity steps are not sold at London Antwerp Diamonds
following diagrams show what inclusions and blemishes look like in the different
clarity grades when viewed with 10X magnification. You can use a loupe or microscope
to see these characteristics, many of which will not be visible to the unaided
An untrained person will have a very difficult time trying
to find inclusions or blemishes in FI, IF, VVS1, or VVS2 grades even with a microscope.
There is no visible difference in beauty or appearance once the clarity is clean
to the eye with VS clarity. These high clarity grades should only be considered
if you are willing to pay the price for higher quality knowing that does not have
an impact on appearance.
VS1 and VS2 graded stones have very small inclusions
that are difficult to find even when viewed with 10X magnification. Typical inclusions
are small crystals or feathers, distinct clouds and groups of pinpoints. They
do not impact the diamond's beauty and are very high quality diamonds.
and SI2 are the two most common grades for the typical buyer. These grades have
inclusions or blemishes when viewed with 10X magnification. Most SI1 clarity diamonds
should be "eye-clean," which means the flaws can't be seen with the
unaided eye when viewed from the top. These are good quality diamonds and provide
great beauty at a very reasonable price. Most SI2 clarity diamonds have inclusions
visible to the unaided eye.
There are some SI clarity diamonds that have inclusions easily visible to the
unaided eye and should only be used for earrings or pendants, not for engagement
Advice: For diamonds with many
facets (i.e., round brilliant), it is extremely difficult to see the difference
between SI1 and higher grades even with a loupe or microscope. Therefore, target
SI1 or VS2 as the best clarity values with outstanding beauty. For step cut shapes
like emeralds and Asschers, we recommend at least VS2 clarity diamonds since these
stones are so transparent and inclusions are easier to see with the eye.
A diamond is the hardest thing in the world, but not the toughest.
Diamonds can get abrasions or even chipped through normal wear and tear. When
diamonds rub together while being stored, they may get scratched or abraded (minute
scratches and pits along facet edges). Be careful any time that diamonds might
come in contact with another diamond. Diamonds are valuable objects and should
not be abused. Read
more on Diamond Care
How to look
are clarity graded face up (looking at the top of the diamond), not from the side
or bottom of the diamond. We have the most problem with clarity where the inclusions
are not visible with the eye from the top of the diamond but are visible from
the side. When viewing a diamond from the side, the middle third of the diamond
is generally very transparent.
If an inclusion is in this part of the diamond
and happens to be turned broadside to your view, it can be much more visible than
when viewed from the top where there are many facets to hide its appearance. If
the diamond is going to be visible from the side in the setting, make sure your
diamond is clean to the eye from the top and the side, regardless of what clarity
grade it has.
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