Tips to Understand Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity can be confusing for the everyday diamond buyer to understand, but you can get a good grasp on clarity indicators with some basic background information and terms.

The majority of natural diamonds have identifying characteristics known as flaws. The visibility of the flaws is dependent on its location in the diamond. Some flaws are visible to the naked eye. However, most flaws in jewelry grade diamonds can only be seen with a jeweler’s magnifying loupe.

Diamond clarity refers to the presence or absence of surface flaws known as blemishes and inner flaws called inclusions.

Diamond blemishes do not generally compromise the structure of the stone. Common types of diamond blemishes include nicks, abrasions, scratches, wheel marks, surface grain lines and burn marks. The flaws are generally caused during the cutting and polishing process.

Diamond inclusions can impact value, grade, beauty and the overall durability of the diamond. The inclusions range from surface level chips or openings, to cloudy, white or gray spots. Feathers and cracks are more serious inclusion flaws that note a break in a diamond. Feather or crack inclusions can cause the diamond to split in two.

Before purchasing your diamond, be sure to understand its grade. Flawless diamonds are designated as Fl, which means that there are no internal or external flaws present. Internally Flawless—or IF diamonds are free of internal flaws but have some external blemishes.

Very, Very, Slightly Included – or VVS 1 & VVS2 diamonds have small inclusions that are difficult for jewelry graders to detect. Very Slightly Included or VS1 & VS2 diamonds also have small inclusions that are also not likely to be detected by graders.

Diamonds with inclusions that are noticeable by graders are designated as Slightly Included—or SI1 & SI2. The lowest graded diamonds are designate as I1, I2, & I3 – or Included. These stones have obvious flaws that impact brilliance and transparency.