Diamond Clarity Guide

What is Diamond Clarity?

Diamond clarity assesses how light passes through the diamond when viewed under a microscope at 10x magnification. The diamond clarity grade measures whether the light is blocked or bent by imperfections within (inclusions) or on the outside (blemishes) of the stone.

A diamond with a flawless clarity grade has no inclusions or blemishes visible within the stone under 10x magnification.

Natural diamonds form when carbon is put under immense pressure and heat deep inside the earth. This process can result in internal features called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes’ in the stone. 

Diamond clarity is measured using six categories defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), divided further into 11 specific grades.

How Is A Diamond's clarity graded?

To give a diamond a clarity grade, a trained gemologist will first access the characteristics of each stone under a microscope to establish what grade that particular diamond is. Once the gemologist has made a call on which category they believe the stone falls under, they may or may not decide to give a further evaluation to determine what subgrade that diamond should be given if that is applicable. 

Each diamond clarity grade has a predetermined set of requirements that a stone must meet to make that particular grade. The diamond grade is recorded in official documentation so that when the diamond stone or stones are set into jewellery, the diamond clarity certification accompanies the ring, earring, pendant or other piece.

What Is The Best Diamond Clarity Grade?

There isn't necessarily a "best" diamond clarity grading as it largely depends on personal preferences and budget. Diamond clarity refers to the degree to which a diamond is free from internal and external imperfections, known as inclusions and blemishes. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses a clarity grading scale that ranges from Flawless (FL) to Included (I3). Flawless diamonds are the rarest and most expensive as they have no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification. However, diamonds with slightly lower clarity grades, such as VVS1, VVS2, VS1, and VS2, are also considered high-quality and can be more affordable. Ultimately, the choice of diamond clarity grading depends on individual preferences and the budget available for the purchase. While some people may prefer a diamond with slight inclusions, such as those graded as VVS1 or VVS2, others may prefer the absolute clarity of a flawless diamond. Ultimately, the choice of diamond clarity is down to what qualities you prefer in a diamond and how much you want it to sparkle. However, it's worth noting that flawless diamonds are the pinnacle of diamond clarity and are considered the most valuable and desirable.

FL/IF: 'Flawless' or 'Internally Flawless' diamonds are essentially any stone that has no noticeable inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye and under 10x magnification. Flawless and Internally Flawless is not only the highest rating a diamond can be given, but they are sometimes the standard for many higher-end diamond and jewellery brands out there, however, this comes with a price. Not surprisingly, diamonds that have been given a Flawless or Internally Flawless rating are extremely rare and very expensive due to their fiery brilliance which is perfectly symmetrical. Some Internally Flawless and Flawless diamonds will even come with official documentation from the Gemological Institute that provides proof of their highly-prized certification which is a huge drawcard for those who put emphasise a stone's clarity when buying jewellery. The sparkle on a Flawless diamond is so spectacular that you will often see them sent onto singular diamond pendants and diamond solitaire engagement rings in order to show it off. 

Diamond blemishes and inclusions explained

Diamonds may have structural imperfections caused during the formation process. Diamonds are created when carbon within the earth’s crust is subject to extreme heat and pressure. Inclusions occur when irregular crystals form within the diamond stone during formation, or when foreign (non-carbon) material is found within the stone. Blemishes are flaws at the surface of the diamond. 

The size, position and visibility of inclusions can impact the overall clarity grade. 

Diamonds may have varying levels of inclusions, with some that you can see with your naked eye while others are very difficult to spot, even with magnification. Inclusions can form in mined natural diamonds, treated diamonds and lab-grown diamonds alike. 

Lab-grown diamonds may have higher clarity as these diamonds can be formed under highly controlled conditions. 

The potentially higher clarity of lab-grown diamond engagement rings has led to a boom in popularity amongst celebrities and savvy buyers. 

Types of diamond inclusions that affect clarity

The most common inclusion types are needle and pinpoint inclusions, diamond cavities, feather inclusions, bearding and graining and cloud inclusions.

How Important Is a Diamond's Clarity?

Diamond clarity is important because it directly affects the diamond's brilliance and sparkle, two of the most desirable qualities in a diamond. The fewer and smaller the imperfections are, the higher the diamond's clarity grade will be. A diamond with a higher clarity grade will be more valuable and durable, and it will have a better visual appearance. Therefore, diamond clarity is an essential factor to consider when evaluating the overall quality and value of a diamond. If sparkle is important, then diamond clarity should be an essential factor to consider when evaluating the overall quality and value of a diamond.

When choosing a diamond, you should also consider the cut, carat weight and colour of the diamond, which also determine overall diamond quality.

With that said, if there are other factors that are more important to you such as the diamond’s cut, colour and carat size as well as the price, clarity doesn’t have to be the be-all-end-all of your diamond buying experience. At the end of the day, a diamond is still a diamond and it is still going to be beautiful. And while a slightly included (SI) diamond may not have a sparkle as big as an internally flawless (IF) stone, the feeling of owning one of these beautiful stones often triumphs that. In fact, some even regard inclusions as the diamond’s birthmark and are therefore unique.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best diamond clarity?

A flawless (FL) diamond is a stunning diamond of the highest quality, however, it is indistinguishable by the naked eye from a Very Slightly Included (VS1) diamond. The best diamond clarity depends on the purpose of the jewellery the diamond is set within. A diamond ring for daily wear may provide best value at a lower clarity grade, with the cut, colour and carat size you desire.

Does clarity in diamonds matter?

Diamond clarity is a measure of how effectively the light passes through a diamond to make it sparkle and shine. To the naked eye, diamonds of clarity higher than Slightly Included (SI) will look similar in clarity, so it depends on what is most important to the wearer or buyer. The shape of the cut, colour and carat size are equally important in defining the look and value of a diamond.

How are diamonds graded for clarity?

Diamonds are graded for clarity by an experienced gemmologist using a 10x magnification microscope. The diamond is first categorised into one of six categories, then graded into one of 11 grades. A certificate is issued at the end of the process that stays with the diamond when it is shaped into jewellery.

You have successfully subscribed!

This email has been registered