The clarity of a diamond was determined millions of years ago, when the diamond formed through heat and pressure. The part of the diamond which did not crystallize when it came to the earth's surface, are called blemishes or inclusions. Clarity refers to grading the number, size and location of the inclusions in the diamond. Inclusions are road blocks for light. When light comes down into a diamond, and it passes through to an inclusion, the inclusion blocks the light from being reflected back up to our eyes in the form of sparkle.
Clarity should only be graded by using a Gemscope with a minimum of 10 power magnification. Clarity ranges from the highest grade of flawless (FL) to the lowest grade of imperfect (I3).The clarity of a diamond can affect its value dramatically. Come into Arthur's, and let one of our diamond experts show you differences among diamond clarities.
Clarity Grading Scale
Flawless, Internally Flawless:
No inclusions, only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. FL and IF diamonds appear identical unless viewed under 10x magnification by a skilled grader. Extremely rare, less than 1 in 5000 jewelry quality diamonds are rated FL. Less than 3% of jewelry quality diamonds are rated IF.
Very Very Slightly Included:
Diamond clarity inclusions rated VVS1 are not visible at all under 10x magnification. These tiny pinpoints can only be seen under a powerful microscope of 40x magnification. Diamond clarity inclusions rated VVS2 are sometimes just barely visible under 10x magnification (standard jeweler’s loupe). When they are visible, they are quite difficult to find and can often take quite a while to locate.
Very Slightly Included:
VS1 diamond clarity inclusions are just barely visible under 10x magnification (standard jeweler's loupe). When looking for VS1 clarity inclusions with a loupe, it can sometimes take a good few seconds until the pinpoint is located. Perhaps 1 in 100 untrained observers can detect VS2 inclusions with the naked eye, on close inspection under ideal conditions.
SI1 Clarity inclusions are easily found with a standard jeweler’s loupe at 10x magnification. With most shapes (to the exclusion of step cuts like Asscher and Emerald Cuts), SI1 clarity inclusions are almost always clean to the naked eye. SI2 clarity inclusions are seen clearly and obviously with the help of a jeweler's loupe.
Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. I1 diamonds have inclusions that are almost always visible to the naked eye.
I2 diamonds have pronounced inclusions and the inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. I2 diamonds have inclusions that are always visible to the naked eye. I3 diamonds have very pronounced inclusions and the inclusions are extremely obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Clarity Buying Tips:
Never buy a diamond already mounted. Always buy a diamond loose. Many stores hide chips and inclusions underneath prongs, and do not disclose it to the consumer. Jewelers buy their diamonds loose, why shouldn't you?
Never use hand held loupes for grading clarity. Stores that do this know that you will not be able to properly focus and see all of the inclusions in the diamond, thus, making the diamond look one to two clarity grades better than it actually is.
Always use a Gemscope with at least 10 x magnification.
How We Grade Clarity
We don't use hand held loupes because it is much more difficult to evaluate the clarity of a diamond. At Arthur's we use a Gemscope, which allows you to view your diamond under 10x-50x magnification. The Gemscope has dark field illumination that lets light enter the stone indirectly from the bottom. The diamond is then viewed against a dark background which allows for good observation of the internal characteristics of the stone. The side mounted fiber optic lighting lets you precisely position the light for detailed examination. This is a must for grading the clarity of diamonds.