It is easy to become overwhelmed when shopping for the perfect engagement ring. Especially when considering the best diamond clarity for the cut of your ring. Luckily we’ve compiled this handy guide to help you determine exactly the best diamond clarity for you. We also include why exactly that matters. But before we get into it, let’s go over what diamond clarity actually is.
What is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity is the measure of how many natural imperfections are found in a diamond. Diamonds with fewer imperfections are called “eye-clean” and are graded at SI2 or better. Stones below this grade usually contain imperfections that can be seen by the naked eye, so they appear dull and cloudy. Diamond clarity grades are given based on the number of inclusions or blemishes within the diamond. The more inclusions and blemishes visible within the diamond presents a lower clarity grade. Likewise, eye-clean diamonds, or diamonds that appear clean to the eye, will have higher clarity grades.
Let’s further get into the clarity characteristics of inclusions and blemishes:
Inclusions: Internal inclusions are natural imperfections in the diamond that are present from the time it was formed. They can be a variety of things, including gas bubbles, crystal inclusions, and even mineral deposits.
Inclusions are graded by their visibility and location. The less noticeable they are, the higher quality your diamond is likely to be. Even if your diamond may appear as an eye-clean stone, hidden inclusions may still affect how well your diamond shines and lower its quality.
Blemishes: Blemishes can be caused by a number of things, but for the most part, they are caused by damage that has occurred to the diamond during its growth. A blemish is typically a small mark or discoloration in the stone. Blemishes may be visible to the naked eye or only visible under magnification. They can range from small (like tiny cracks) to large (like chips). Blemishes are graded on their severity; a diamond with a faint blemish will have less impact on its value than one with an obvious chip.
Who Developed the Diamond Clarity Grading System?
Diamond clarity grading is a system developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to help you choose a diamond. It’s an important part of the diamond purchasing process. The system allows you to compare diamonds and see which one is best for you.
GIA began developing the system back in 1953 when there was a need for more transparent grading standards for diamonds. At that time, there were no universally accepted ways to measure diamond quality and grade. So, jewelers had to rely on their own personal opinions and experience when buying diamonds or selling them to customers. This resulted in inconsistencies in pricing and quality among different jewelers. It became difficult for consumers to know what they were getting and how much they should expect to pay.
What Is the Diamond Clarity Scale?
The diamond clarity scale is a way of rating diamonds based on the clarity of their stones. Diamonds rate from flawless (FL) to included (I1, I2, I3).
The best clarity grade available, these high-quality diamonds have no visible inclusions or blemishes. A flawless diamond is extremely rare, and most people won’t ever see one in person.
Internally Flawless (IF)
An internally flawless diamond will have no visible inclusions but may have minor blemishes. An internally flawless diamond is eye clean and is only visible under 10x magnification.
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2)
These diamonds may have small inclusions that are both difficult to see with the naked eye and under 10x magnification. In fact, only trained gemologists can usually spot the internal flaws of these diamonds.
Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2)
These diamonds may have diamond inclusions that are still difficult to spot with magnification though a normal person should be able to see them.
Slightly Included (SI1, SI2)
Slightly included diamonds have noticeable inclusions when viewed with 10x magnification. As the levels of slightly included increase, there begins to be a visible difference in diamond clarity.
Included (I1, I2, I3)
Included diamonds have significant inclusions that are easily spotted at 10x magnification and can even be visible to the naked eye. Additionally, these diamonds may have surface blemishes visible to the naked eye.
Can Diamond Clarity Improve?
There are two methods that can be utilized to hide inclusions. Generally, both ways occur before the diamond is commercially sold. It would be rare (but not impossible) to buy a diamond with a poor clarity grade and then improve it. And, as with other diamond treatments, there are some pros and cons to each method. The methods are:
This method utilizes lasers to bore small holes into a diamond’s interior. A channel is then created which is used to deliver a bleaching agent that will lighten the inclusion. The channel goes into the diamond’s pavilion or table. It is small enough that when looking at the diamond a viewer will only see the tiny hole where the inclusion once was.
Alternatively, when a diamond has an inclusion that is close to the surface, internal laser drilling can be utilized. This form of drilling creates a small tail of ‘steps’ that resemble tiny feathers, thereby disguising the inclusion.
While this method is useful in removing inclusions there are some cons. Primarily, thanks to the drilling, the diamond will be slightly more fragile than a non-drilled diamond. Additionally, it is possible for dirt to become lodged within the channel and require cleaning.
The second method of hiding inclusions, fracture filling, hides white fractures in a diamond by injecting the fracture with a molten lead-glass-like substance. This form of diamond repair is often used when people accidentally crack their diamonds. Yet, this method is not a permanent solution to diamond clarity issues or broken diamonds and will require multiple refillings as the years go by.
How Much Does the Best Diamond Clarity Grade Cost?
A flawless diamond is exceedingly rare. In fact, a jeweler can live their entire life without handling a flawless diamond. This is why prices are higher for rare flawless diamonds than lower-clarity diamonds.
In general, flawless diamonds can cost anywhere between 25-35% more than an internally flawless diamond. And, to be honest, it’s not always worth it. As described above, many diamond clarity grade identifications can only happen under 10x magnification. In fact, a diamond ring can seem as if it shares identical clarity grades with other diamonds even if there is a difference of three clarity grades.
Because of this, the best diamond clarity Clean Origin offers is Internally flawless. Plus, because we offer lab created premium diamonds, you can save an extra 20-40% allowing you to get more for less.
What Is the Best Diamond Clarity Grade For Me?
You might believe that you should always choose the highest clarity grade when purchasing your diamond but this is not always the case. In fact, when considering diamond clarity it is important to also consider a variety of factors that can affect the overall cost and look of your diamond ring.
How Cut Affects Clarity Grade
A diamond’s cut allows the diamond to interact with light and emit its characteristic sparkle. As is with all of the other diamond C’s, it is important to consider how diamond clarity and cut work together when considering the best diamond clarity for you.
A well-cut brilliant diamond will shine brightly, so brightly in fact, that it can help distract from a lower clarity grade. Most times, the higher the cut grade the less you have to prioritize clarity.
There are certain diamond shapes that require a higher clarity grade than others, however. For example, emerald and Asscher-cut diamonds’ beloved step cuts create an unobstructed view into the center of the diamond.
While it is difficult to distinguish between IF and VVS1 or even VVS2 diamonds, you may begin to see a difference between SI2 and SI1. Here, it pays to pay more.
Consider Your Budget
As mentioned above, the higher the clarity grade the more you can expect to pay. Your diamond’s clarity grade depends on a variety of factors, your budget being one of them.
Ask yourself what you’re looking to prioritize when purchasing a diamond and how the diamond’s clarity grade supports the overall look of the ring. Diamond clarity is one of the 4C’s that compromises can be made for to prioritize other characteristics such as cut and carat weight. Or, if you want a superior clarity grade, go for internally flawless!
Stay True to You
At the end of the day, the best diamond clarity for you is going to be the clarity grade that best fits your needs. It’s all about knowing what’s important to you and then finding a diamond ring that meets those needs.
Remember to stay true to yourself or your partner that you’re buying for and at the end of the day you can’t go wrong.