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August 11, 2022

What is diamond clarity?

Becky Waldron

There's a lot to take into account when engagement ring shopping. A ring that symbolises your love for your partner, choosing the right jewellery piece is essential.  

Whether you want rose gold, yellow gold, colourful gemstones, or an ethically sourced engagement ring, the choice is limitless.  

So, where to begin when choosing your ideal diamond? Diamond clarity plays a big role in the value of a diamond, its aesthetic and even structural integrity. If you’re looking to broaden your diamond knowledge or want to know more to help inform your wedding ring or engagement ring decisions, then read on to find out more.    

Skydiamond Product Image 2 - It’s time to kiss goodbye to traditional diamond mining forever, and say hello to diamonds mined from the sky. To mark the launch of the world’s first truly sustainable diamond, Skydiamond.-min-44-

What is diamond clarity?  

The amount you spend on an engagement ring can partly come down to diamond clarity. Diamonds found in the ground, as well as lab-grown or sky mined diamonds, undergo a process of extreme heat and pressure to form.  Because of this, these stones often have small marks in them – that affects their overall purity.  

Known as inclusions – internal flaws, and blemishes – external flaws, these can only be identified by a trained diamond trader. While termed ‘blemishes’, these inclusions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They give each stone its own identity, making them completely unique, a bit like our fingerprints.  

Diamond clarity is one of the all-important 4Cs – alongside diamond cut, carat and colour – that have an impact on how diamond engagement rings are priced. Stones with higher clarity are more expensive than those with lower-graded clarity.   

What is a diamond clarity chart?  

Gemologist Richard T. Liddicoat, alongside several others, coined a diamond grading system in 1952, resulting in the clarity grade scale we see today – with some tweaks along the way.  

Made up of six categories and eleven specific grades in total, the GIA Diamond Clarity Scale enables consistent grading within the diamond industry - helping people on their journey to buy the perfect engagement ring! 

The modern GIA grading scale  

All grading is based on any structural imperfections that can be seen under 10x magnification.  

Flawless (FL) - Flawlessstones have no inclusions or blemishes.  

Internally flawless (IF) - Internally flawlessstones have no internal inclusions, but some small surface blemishes.  

Very very slightly included (split into two gradings; (VVS1 and VVS2) – VVS inclusions exist but are very slight and only just identifiable by a trained diamond trader. VVS1 has a higher clarity than VVS2.   

Very Slightly Included (split into two gradings; VS1 and VS2) - VS stones have inclusions that are marginally easier to identify by diamond traders than VVS stones. VS1 diamonds have a higher clarity than VS2. VS1 stones have inclusions that are invisible to the trained eye without magnification, whereas VS2 stones have inclusions that – very occasionally – are visible.   

Slightly Included (split into two gradings; SI1 and SI2) - SI stones have inclusions that are either easy or very easy for a trained grader to identify. SI1 stones have a higher clarity than S12.  

Included (split into three gradings; I1, I2 and I3) - Included graded stones have inclusions that are undoubtedly clear to a diamond grader under 10x magnification.   

I1 stones have inclusions that can often be seen by the unaided eye, inclusions on I2 stones can sometimes be seen by the unaided eye and I3 graded stones have inclusions that are large and easily seen by the unaided eye – affecting the structural and valuable qualities of the diamond.    

What determines diamond clarity?  

So, what exactly determines the score that a diamond will get on the diamond clarity chart? We can see that the visibility of incisions in the stone plays a role, but there are five factors that diamond graders take into account to accurately assess this.     

  1. Size – The size of an inclusion is probably the most critical factor that determines the clarity score of a diamond. The bigger the inclusion, the lower the clarity score will be.  

  2. Number – The more internal flaws a stone has, the lower the clarity score.   

  3. Nature – This factor refers to the nature of any inclusions on a diamond. This includes the depth and characteristics of inclusions that can be seen within the diamond. The impact this has on the diamond’s durability is also taken into account.   

  4. Location/Position – Where in the stone is the inclusion? If it is closer to the centre of the table (the largest facet of a diamond), then the imperfection will be more visible and therefore the clarity score will be lower. If an inclusion is located near the girdle – or outer edge – then it will be less visible and won’t have as much of an impact on clarity as an inclusion near the centre table or pavilions – the part of the diamond that is prone to reflecting, which would exacerbate any inclusions. This might be prominent on Asschercut diamonds, which are deeply cut and have an obvious central focal point. For brilliant diamonds, inclusions may be less obvious as they are cut to reflect a maximum amount of light.  

  5. Relief and colour – Relief refers to the noticeability of an inclusion in contrast with the rest of the diamond. If there is a higher relief, the colour will also be affected.Together these will lower a diamond’s clarity score.   

How much does diamond clarity matter?  

Inclusions are unavoidable with diamonds, due to the nature of how they are made. It is rare that inclusions can be seen by the unaided eye and by someone who isn’t a professional diamond trader. However, clarity is deemed an important factor because the more inclusions a diamond has, the less it sparkles!   

Inclusions can affect the transparency of a diamond. The different kind of inclusions will also affect the aesthetic of the diamond, with some being more obvious than others.  The types of inclusions are classified as:  

  • Cloud inclusions 

  • Graining inclusions 

  • Cavity inclusions  

  • Feather inclusions  

Cloud inclusions, for example, are more likely to dull a diamond’s shine than feather inclusions.  How much diamond clarity matters isreally down to the individual. Some might want a diamond with a higher clarity score, but other’s priorities might lie in finding a lower priced jewel, which therefore will have a lower clarity score.   

High and Sky: Clarity for your engagement ring   

At Skydiamond, our diamonds are always of a high clarity, ranging from Internally Flawless (IF) to Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2). A combination of a high clarity, responsible sourcing (from the sky!) and a completely pure growing process, means our diamonds shine beautiful and bright – a gorgeous centrepiece for your engagement ring.  

We have a range of cuts, colour and carats available, take a look, here.     

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