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The 4 C’s – Getting to Know Diamond Clarity

The 4 C's - Getting to Know Diamond Clarity | Diamond Clarity Chart
Diamond Clarity Chart

Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity is the absence of flaws and carbon spots, known as inclusions in the trade. These inclusions can be crystals or minerals inside the diamond of differing sizes that are caused by natural processes when the diamond is formed, by cutting procedures, or by normal wear and tear.

To appreciate diamond clarity, we must first comprehend diamond formation. Carbon is exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth, resulting in natural diamonds. this process can produce a range of internal and external traits known as “inclusions” and “blemishes.”

Almost all diamonds contain minute mineral traces called inclusions and most are not visible to the naked eye and require magnification to become apparent. The fewer the number of inclusions, the more rare and hence valuable the stone will be. Clarity is the term used to indicate the extent to which the diamond you purchase is free of these inclusions.

The quantity, size, relief, type, and position of these qualities, as well as how they affect the overall appearance of the stone, are all factors in defining diamond clarity. If you’re attempting to determine what the ideal diamond clarity is, keep in mind that no diamond is absolutely pure. However, the closer it gets to purity, the higher its clarity.

Best Diamond Clarity Grade for Engagement Rings

The purity of a diamond, or how free it is of inclusions and flaws, can be extremely subjective. A flawless diamond may indicate a flawless love for certain diamond engagement ring buyers. However, Flawless clarity diamonds are extremely rare; so rare, in fact, that a jewellery professional may go a whole career without seeing one.

There will almost certainly be inclusions in the diamonds you see. However, many will fall into the Very Very Slightly Included (VVS), Very Slightly Included (VS), and Slightly Included (SI) clarity categories, which have inclusion visible only with 10x magnification.

Because differences are impossible to notice with the naked eye, there is a lot of room to move within your desired price range within these clarity grades. In fact, an SI2 diamond may appear to be identical to a more expensive VS1 diamond when viewed without magnification.

Diamond Clarity in a collection of beautiful diamond engagement rings | MS Signature Solitaire Ring, Baguette Diamond Trilogy Ring, and Oval Cut Diamond Halo Ring
Diamond Engagement Rings

Important notes to consider when choosing the best diamond clarity for your engagement ring

As long as the inclusion in the diamond is not visible to the naked eye, you do not necessarily have to buy the best clarity grade. Here is a short and simple lesson with regards to diamond clarity.

The best clarity grade of a diamond is Flawless “FL”. A flawless diamond is completely clean and has no internal or external flaws, known as inclusions in the trade. It has also been perfectly polished and there are no scratches or abrasions on the diamond’s surface. In essence, it is a perfect diamond. This grading should only be considered if you are planning to purchase an investment-grade diamond.

The next one down is the Internally Flawless “IF” grade that is given to a diamond that has no internal flaws but does have minor external blemishes on the diamond’s surface, for example, surface grain lines. This and the “FL” grade can demand very steep prices.

The next grade down from IF is “VVS”, which stands for “Very Very Small” inclusion and is divided into two sub-grades, VVS1 and VVS2. VVS1 is categorised as a better grade than VVS2. One cannot see the inclusion with a 10x magnified eyeglass or Loupe and it is quite difficult to find with a microscope and can be difficult to find even for skilled graders. An example of VVS1 might be a minute pinpoint or hairline feather. It is still a very expensive grade.

The intermediate-range and highly desired clarity “VS” or “Very Small” inclusion can at times be noticed with a 10x Loupe. They are characterised as minor or small in appearance. Diamonds in these grades might have inclusions such as small included crystals, small clouds, small feathers, or several pinpoints. The inclusions in these grades do not affect the beauty or the durability of the stone. This is the favourite option for those seeking a diamond that is flawless to the naked eye. In most instances, a VS1 and VS2 diamond is eye-clean just like an “FL” grade, except it costs far less. If you prefer a very good clarity without the heavy price tag, this is the right one for an engagement ring.

GIA certified SI1 or “Slightly Included” clarity diamonds appear clean to the naked eye, but inclusions are noticeable or fairly easy to see only under 10x magnification. Typical inclusions include clouds, included crystals, and feathers. Nonetheless, the SI1 grade is the standard for eye-clean diamonds and the standard for engagement rings. None are visible when the stones are viewed face-up with the unaided eye, although they may sometimes be seen when the stone is viewed through the pavilion.

Depending on the cut or shape of the diamond the inclusion might be noticeable for example with Emerald Cuts, Asscher Cuts, and Baguettes. Some shapes hide the inclusions better than other shapes especially Round Cut, Princess, Cushion, Oval, Radiant, Marquise, and Pear Shapes, so choose an SI1 or SI2 if you have a budget. Also, the larger the diamond, the easier it is to see inclusions.

Diamond Clarity in Vintage Romance Ring | Vintage, Antique, Retro Inspired Diamond Rings
Vintage Romance Ring (centre diamond: 1.71ct, M colour, SI3 clarity)

The “Included” grades I1, I2 and I3 include diamonds with inclusions that are obvious under 10x magnification or can be seen with the naked eye. These grades also include diamonds in which the inclusions are so numerous that they can affect the diamond’s transparency and brilliance. Normally these inclusions are small, and in some cases very interesting and beautiful.

Inclusions may evoke negative implications in one’s mind, but they are also the identifying characteristics of a diamond and in essence the diamond’s fingerprint.

Buying diamonds and engagement rings comes with a lot of pressure. Make sure you are educated and understand how to buy diamonds by reviewing our blog series or visiting our Diamond Education page. Learn about what influences diamond cost and be sure to protect yourself when buying diamonds online and explore how to choose the perfect diamond based on color, clarity, cut and carat weight. 

Hopefully this perspective on the quality range of clarity has helped you to find the perfect diamond for your diamond engagement ring.

Diamond clarity | An assortment of diamonds

Mark Solomon Jewellers is renowned as one of Cape Town’s leading Jewellery Designers and Manufacturers of exquisite engagement rings using beautiful South African diamonds. Browse our diamond rings online or contact one of our highly qualified jewellery designers for more information.

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