The clarity of a diamond refers to inclusions which can be black, grey or white marks that internally flaw the diamonds structure. These small imperfections are graded under 10 x magnification which is the standard to grade diamond clarity. A diamond with fewer inclusions is both rarer and more desired which makes it also more expensive. Diamond clarity from IF to VS2 will sparkle with intensity whereas diamonds from SI1 to SI2 will sparkle and I1 to I3 will lack sparkle and life with the inclusions being noticeable to the naked eye. All conditions being constant, the less inclusions the greater the life and sparkle of a diamond and the more one will pay.
Clarity is synonymous with purity, lucidity and calm. The dictionary quite appropriately mentions ‘spotlessness’ which can be quite literally applied to diamond clarity. A diamond’s clarity grade is determined under a 10 times magnification by trained gemmologists. Although very strict guidelines are in place it is open to judgement and a prudent approach is always highly regarded. This prudent approach is why choosing a diamond with a reputable certification report is very important.
AND SO TO THE DETAIL – TYPICAL IMPERFECTIONS ARE CIRCLED IN RED
IF = Internally Flawless (IF)
VVS = Very Very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2)
A diamond with very very slight inclusions, VVS1, has an amount of non-crystallized carbon often situated around the girdle or edge of the diamond. A very very slight inclusion, VVS2, will have inclusions of the same size but closer to the table or centre of the diamond. Both VVS grades represent high quality and a near perfect clarity. diamonds with IF or VVS characteristics are considered investment quality and the purist will insist on this clarity. Having few inclusions will improve the performance of light return and sparkle so these diamonds are sought after for their beauty. The price is proportional to the amount of inclusions in every diamond. IF and VVS diamonds have a significant premium because of the scarcity.
VS = Very Slightly included (VS1 and VS2)
VS quality diamonds represent good value andretain a high clarity rating. A VS1 diamond will contain inclusions around the girdle or edge and the VS2 will have a similar amount of inclusions around the table and more central areas of the diamond. VS quality diamonds are ‘eye-clean’, which suggests that no visible marks can be seen with the naked eye, and we recommend this classification for quality minded purchasers.
SI = Slightly imperfect small inclusions (Si1, Si2 and Si3)
Slight inclusion, Si1 quality diamonds are graded as Si1, Si2 anda not so common Si3. A Si1 quality diamond is considered to be eye-clean although unaided but very close viewing or a trained eye could identify the inclusions. The fact that such concentrated unaided analysis is not normally performed by brides to be or their friends at dinner parties make these diamond popular as they are priced significantly below the VS quality diamonds. Having an ‘eye-clean’ diamond is the preference in nearly all diamond buyers and we would stress that Si1 diamonds are considered eye-clean because the location of the inclusion is difficult to detect and usually around the edge. However we always add our own particular caveat. ‘Stones commonly referred to as eye-clean have no visible marks when viewed with the naked-eye UNLESS you are female.’ Slight inclusion, Si2 quality diamonds have slight inclusions that are often located around the table and include black carbon whichcontrasts to a diamonds whiteness and is more noticeable. We would advisecustomers against Si2 clarity diamonds as they usually have at least 1 noticeable inclusion and so we consider them unfit to recommend. For the budget shopper who is interested in carat size a Si2 diamond could be appropriate but we would recommend having the diamond professionally reviewed prior to an unsighted purchase and we are happy to perform this service.
Slight Inclusion, Si3 clarity diamonds are a new scale that the European Gemological Laboratory E.G.L introduced as there was perceived to be a significant difference between an SI2 and a I1. The SI3 has not been endorsed by other grading laboratories at this time and only time will tell if it is ever accepted into main stream grading.
Inclusions visibleto the naked eye (I1, I2, I3 – or sometimes refered to as P1,P2,P3)
Are all very poor clarity diamonds with an I1 being visibly included. ‘I’ claritydiamonds loose light return because the inclusions are so large the light that enters the diamond can be refracted at random angles. The many inclusions also weaken the diamonds durability and a jeweller can more easily chip the stone when setting it into a ring. These diamonds I1, I2, and I3 are suitable for when size matters and a low budget requires very poor clarity.
In summary an Internally Flawless IF quality diamond is the very best and is perfect although expensive. The IF is the ultimate symbol of what a diamond stands for and is admired because it is simply ‘flawless’ with only minor blemishes on the surface which are man-made, hence internally flawless. Very Very Slight VVS are the next best clarity grade and represent investment grade diamonds at a premium price. Very Slight VS diamonds represent excellent value and balance to a diamond and are highly recommended. Slight Inclusion Si quality are considered ‘eye-clean’ to SI1 and SI2, SI3 you will start to notice inclusions but you may have to look quite hard. I1, I2, I3 [or sometimes refered to as P1,P2,P3] are heavily included diamonds with poor quality and many black carbon markings. Although these spots are natures finger-prints they are undesirable and priced to sell.