Home Diamonds Education 4Cs: Importance of Diamond Clarity

4Cs: Importance of Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity is degree of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes’ in a diamond. Whether natural or lab grown, diamonds are the result of carbon being exposed to tremendous heat and extreme pressure. These irregularities or blemishes make each diamond so precious and exquisite.

According to gemological institutes, these blemishes or birth signs decide a diamond’s clarity grade – which is based on the number, size, nature, and position of these inclusions within the diamond.

Inclusions can sometimes interfere with the passage of light through the stone, diminishing the sparkle and value of the diamond. It is an important factor to keep in mind when you are picking out your diamond. Ideally, you would want to avoid a diamond whose flaws are visible to the naked eye. Always opt for eye clean diamonds!

Under high enough power magnification, most diamonds tend to have inclusions. And that’s why each one is truly unique. But diamond grading labs examine diamonds under a ten to twenty time magnification, and ascertain the quality of lab grown diamonds or naturally mined diamonds, noting them in certificates which accompany graded diamonds. So, always insist on a lab graded diamond. The clarity scale of a diamond ranges from being flawless (F), to Internally Flawless (IF), to Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (S1 and S2) and Included (I1, I2 and I3).

In diamonds under 1 carat, clarity is arguably the least important of the 4 C’s. Keep in mind, some cuts hide inclusions better than others. Shapes like round brilliant, princess, cushion, oval, pear and marquise hide inclusions better than step cut shapes like emerald and asscher.

Flawless or Internally Flawless (F & IF)

As the name suggests, Flawless diamonds are in a league of their own with no internal inclusions or external blemishes visible when examined under 10x magnification. However, that doesn’t mean a Flawless diamond is always absolutely flawless. Mind bending, huh! As long as a diamond is flawless under 10x magnification, even if you can find a minute imperfection at greater than 10x magnification, legally, the flaws don’t exist.

It may strike as strange why diamond experts choose to preface ‘Internally’ to ‘Flawless’ for yet another set of diamonds — after all, if a diamond doesn’t have any internal flaws, then why not just call it flawless? Internally Flawless diamonds have no visible inclusions but they do have some surface level blemishes, which are microscopic and minute. As you probably already can predict, Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds come with fairly hefty price tags with Flawless diamonds being up to 30% more than a comparable Internally Flawless diamond. But really, it is the lack of perfection in Internally Flawless diamond that makes it special.

Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) 

Diamonds belonging to this clarity grade have inclusions so slight that they are difficult even for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification in laboratories. A VVS grade is given to a diamond if there are one or more inclusions seen under magnification. There are subtle differences between VVS1 and VVS2. The VVS1 diamonds generally have inclusions on the pavilion (stone’s conical tip), while VVS2 diamonds have inclusions located on the top of the diamond or the crown. Neither are pronounced and range between the extremely difficult (VVS1) to very difficult (VVS2) to spot. A gemologist typically looks for inclusions which are either totally enclosed within a diamond or extend into the gem from its surface. Common inclusions include feathers, crystals, pinpoints (due to small crystal growth), clouds (groups of pinpoints), internal graining, needles or indented naturals. 

Even though there are subtle differences between the VVS and VS grade diamonds, none are really visible to the untrained eye. So, by choosing VVS diamonds, you are basically walking away with superb-quality gemstones that are next to an internally flawless gem. But the price difference can be significant when choosing between a VVS and VS clarity grade diamond, even though in both categories it is hard to locate defects.

Bottom line, it will come down to personal preferences and the level of perfection one wants in their diamonds while choosing between VVS diamonds or VS grade.

Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2)

Unlike its predecessor, a very slightly included or VS lab grown diamond contains minor inclusions which can be seen under 10 times the magnification but can be characterized as minor. However, as with VVS diamonds, VS1 diamonds are considered slightly higher clarity grade than VS2 diamonds. While the type of inclusions are the same as those in VVS clarity grade diamonds, the price difference can be as steep as 30%. So, if you wish to own a premium clarity diamond, which looks almost like a VVS and even allows for either a carat or diamond cut upgrade, then choosing a VS diamond will be a safe call. 

Jewelry designers usually love the VS clarity grade gems because it opens doors to play with the shape and cut of the diamond as well as the setting style. The halo, vintage or pave setting does magic to a very slightly included diamond. Jewelers will vouch for a brilliant round cut or a setting where the carat weight is less than two carats. While VS diamonds are considered a more economical option to the F and IF clarity grade diamonds, at times, one can spot small inclusions and blemishes in more obvious, visible locations, especially if the diamond is bigger in carat size. 

It is a good idea to have diamond experts such as LovBe recommend you the optimal designs for your ring which truly complement your center stone. (edited)

Slightly Included (SI1, SI2)

One of the best value for money options, Slightly Included clarity grade diamonds have inclusions that are easily visible under magnification. Because a trained grader uses a 10X magnification to grade lab grown diamonds, in reality these inclusions will still remain unnoticeable to an untrained eye. Whether the inclusions are coloured and clustered together, will decide if it is a SI1 or SI2 grade diamond. 

When crafted carefully in settings that will enhance the diamond’s beauty, SI diamonds can be one of best choices to make. You can still adorn a diamond with excellent brilliance and fire, all in a limited budget if you can get your hands on an eye clean SI diamond. Such graded diamonds can give you maximum carat weight advantage too, without compromising on the diamond’s appearance.

Again, if you opt to choose your cuts and design wisely, you will be able to enjoy a brilliant sparkle, underplaying any visible inclusions. The best to choose is the brilliant cut, and steer away from the step cuts like asscher or emerald.

Indeed buying a diamond online can be stressful, if you can’t assess the clarity of a diamond you like. But it’s essential that you can see the imperfections in order to assess any seemingly obvious flaws. We recommend you try LovBe’s 360 degree diamond viewer that will show you each lab grown diamond  (imperfections and all!) in magnified details, helping you select the just right one.

What Causes Diamond Inclusions?

Diamond inclusions are an unavoidable characteristic that exist in every grown diamond. By virtue of the process of high pressure and gas acting upon its surface, literally every diamond will have some minor defects or imperfections or on the surface. These are called inclusions and blemishes. Most of the time, they are so minute that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. But some types and sizes of inclusions are usually visible under 10X magnification, when graded by a trained expert.

It is very rare to find a diamond with no imperfections. Therefore, the gemological authorities like IGI give diamond clarity grading ranks to lab grown diamonds depending on degree of inclusions. In ascertaining the grade of a diamond, master graders have a priority list that they use to do the same. What really decides the grade is first the size of the inclusion, then the type or number of inclusions, then comes the location and last is the placement of whether they are internal or external (popularly known as blemishes). All these factors really impact a diamond’s clarity grade. It is important to see diamond’s clarity as an important deciding factor along side the cut of the diamond, as they both decide how much your diamond will sparkle.  Remember to see inclusions as nature’s mark inside your gemstone.

The Best Diamond Clarity & Color To Buy

If you are not inclined to make an emotional decision over diamond quality, then you should pick between the Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) and Very Slightly Included (VS) range of graded diamonds. Jewelry experts worldwide vouch for a fact that the larger the diamond, the easier it becomes to see the imperfections. So while clarity is of paramount importance, when coupled with right size and styling, you can walk away with a winning combination in terms of affordability and brilliance.

If you are thinking of a 2 carat diamond engagement ring, clarity grade of VS2 or higher is a smart choice. With this, you can be rest assured you will avoid any visible signs of inclusions. For the choice of lab grown diamonds between one to two carats, you can opt for clarity grades of SI or better will not have inclusions easily visible to the naked eye. In diamonds under 1 carat, clarity should be considered the least important of the traditional 4 Cs.

To choose the right color that does not burn a hole in your pocket, choose from the colorless range of D-F grade lab grown diamonds. If you are a connoisseur of diamonds, chances are you would not want to settle for anything less than the D color diamond that is rare and considered flawless. But because these are frightfully expensive and rare to get, choosing a F color is a wise way to get it all together- promise of brilliance, carat weight, purity, and styling. The F color graded diamond can carry a large carat weight beautifully and does not show the tints of yellow easily. It obviously has to be matched with the right styling and a Brilliant Cut lab grown diamond for your dream engagement ring or a wedding ring even.