Diamond clarity is the assessment of surface defects (blemishes) and internal defects (inclusions) of a stone. Nearly all diamonds have inclusions and blemishes, but the most valuable diamonds are flawless.
The location, size, number, and visibility of inclusions will impact the clarity grade of a diamond. If an inclusion is closer to the girdle (outermost edge) it will have less of an effect on the clarity grade than if the inclusion was in a more prominent spot.
How does a diamond get inclusions?
Some types of diamond inclusions are pinpoints, crystals, feathers, or cavities. Inclusions can form during the diamond creation process or the diamond cutting process. Since diamonds form under such extreme conditions nearly all of them contain external or internal unique characteristics. Inclusions can be caused by tiny mineral crystals or diamonds that can get trapped inside or irregular crystal growth.
Diamond Clarity Scale
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) came up with a clarity grading system to standardize how jewelers talked about the clarity of diamonds. The diamond clarity scale has 6 categories with 11 total grades.
Flawless (FL) – No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
Internally Flawless (IF) – No internal flaws. Inclusions are not visible under 10x magnification.
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2) – Difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2) – Usually cannot see inclusions with the naked eye.
Slightly Included (SI1, SI2) – Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification.
Included (I1, I2, I3) – Obvious inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. Inclusions likely to impact beauty.
Diamond grading reports from the GIA sometimes contain a clarity plot that maps out characteristics of your diamond such as inclusions. The clarity plot is shaped like a diamond, so you get a visual of where different features on your diamond appear.
Why Does Clarity Matter?
Diamond clarity is important because if a diamond has poor clarity the inclusions and blemishes will cause the diamond to appear less bright and sparkly. When purchasing a diamond, it is important to understand the unique inclusions of your specific diamond. Depending on the inclusions, the diamond can still look inclusion free to the naked eye. However, clarity becomes even more important because it is more noticeable when purchasing larger diamonds. To further your diamond education read about diamond color and diamond carat weight.