Clarity refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that are present in all but the rarest and highest of quality diamonds. The less inclusions, the better the clarity. The better the clarity, the more sparkle and light performance.
Experts name imperfections as blemishes and inclusions. Generally, these imperfections tend to be microscopic, hence do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any noticeable way.
Diamonds range in clarity from [FL] to [I3]. Inclusions up to a certain range can only been seen under magnification , that too only by a diamond expert, but those in lower clarity that are not considered eye-clean have inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye as well.
A FL diamond has no inclusions or characteristics (blemishes) inside or on its surface. It is extremely rare and a symbol of perfection. Less than 0.1% of all gem quality diamonds are in this category. With this clarity you cannot see any inclusions or blemishes even with 10x magnification and those too can only be found by a skilled expert.
IF: INTERNALLY FLAWLESS
An IF diamond has no inclusions and may possess very minute undetectable surface blemishes. These tiny blemishes do not affect sparkle and are known as minor details of polish such as polish lines. These imperfections can be found only by a skilled grader in 10x magnification.
VVS1: VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 1
A VVS1 diamond has very minute inclusions that are extremely small, and often undetectable by many diamond professionals, even under 10x magnification. VVS1 offers a much better value than FL or IF as its unaffected due to the inclusions being so small that light is barely affected. The most common VVS1 inclusions are pinpoint and natural.
VVS2: VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 2
A VVS2 diamond has very minute inclusions that are extremely small, but are slightly more visible under magnification than VVS1. This clarity grade is considered the best value of the higher clarity and does not compromise your diamond’s brilliance. Inclusions can rarely be found, even under 10x magnification. The most common VVS2 inclusions include cloud, pinpoint, feather and natural.
VS1: VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 1
A VS1 diamond has very minor inclusions that can be seen only under magnification. VS is a very popular clarity range. The inclusions in VS1 diamonds cannot be viewed by the naked eye and have minimal impact on diamond sparkle. The largest factor in grading a VS1 is the size of the grade setting inclusion. The most common VS1 inclusions include cloud, feather, needle, crystal, indented natural.
VS2: VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 2
A VS2 diamond has very minor inclusions that look only slightly larger than a VS1 under magnification. A VS2 is not noticeable to the naked eye and is extremely popular because its value allows you to focus your budget on another Cut, Color or Carat. VS2 diamonds tend to have a few more inclusions than VS1 and the size is slightly larger, while still microscopic. The common VS2 inclusions include crystal, feather, indented natural, cloud and twinning wisp. The location of inclusions isn’t very affecting in VS diamonds.
SI1: SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 1
A SI1 diamond will sparkle brilliantly even with its minor inclusions that may be invisible to the naked eye. SI1 is extremely popular because its value allows you to focus your budget on another Cut, Color or Carat . It is considered a high clarity grade at a great price.
In SI diamonds, it is recommended to choose diamonds with inclusions that are off center and closer to the girdle of the diamond.
Be wary of single crystals or clouds that are visible or make the diamond look hazy, cloudy or milky.
SI2: SLIGHTLY INCLUDED 2
An SI2 diamond will possess high sparkle and is comprised by clarity inclusions that may be visible without magnification, when examined closely. Most SI2 inclusions are undetectable to the naked eye.
SI clarity grades tend to offer great value. Like SI1 diamonds, avoid larger, single inclusions. On the GIA report, these can be identified by the diamond plot where inclusions are marked or by the inclusion comments.
Avoid SI2 diamonds that have a grade setting inclusion that is cloud or a large, center crystal. Crystals in SI diamonds are typically black and so they are more visible without magnification.
I1: INCLUDED 1
An I1 diamond will shine bright despite the inclusions visible without magnification when the diamond is closely examined, depending on size and location. Diamonds in this category have little or no structural impact from inclusions, but it is recommended to avoid diamonds with a single, larger grade setting inclusions. Often, inclusions will reflect in other diamond facets, making them more noticeable.
Common I1 inclusions are large crystals, feathers, clouds, knots and activities. I2 and I3 diamonds are not recommended for an engagement ring.
However, if you must choose an I diamond, stay within the I1 clarity range. For these diamonds, be sure to choose one in which the inclusions are scattered or spread on the diamond. If inclusions are very large or are concentrated in one area, this can really inhibit the sparkle of the diamond. inclusions that are on the sides of the diamonds or closer to the edges can also potentially be covered by prongs.
Still not sure which clarity diamond to choose? Feel free to contact us for personal help. Our experts are here to help you with the very best diamonds to choose from.