All About Diamond Clarity
Defined in the dictionary as “transparency or purity”, in diamonds, clarity is about either the absence or the degree of inclusions or blemishes in a particular stone.
In other words, it’s all about the sparkle!
That is why people love diamonds. We all want them to sparkle, shine and dazzle us. The clarity of a diamond plays a big part in that sparkle.
In order for any diamond to sparkle, there must be light. When you look at a diamond, the sparkle you see comes from the light around it reflected, refracted and dispersed back to your eyes. Reflection sends light directly to our eyes from the surface of the diamond much like a mirror while refraction bends the light that passes through the stone and sends that also back to our eyes, thus the diamond’s “sparkle”. Dispersion causes the rainbow of colors you see, as pure white light is broken down like a prism into a mini-rainbow. This effect is called scintillation and should never be confused with the “color” of a diamond. Anything which impedes or reduces the amount of light coming back to our eyes results in less sparkle, fire, and scintillation.
You may hear people use the term “flaws” to describe blemishes on the surface of a diamond or internal features that are properly known as inclusions. In reality, blemishes and inclusions are no more flaws than freckles on your skin or the uniqueness of your fingerprints. All diamonds whether mined or lab-created have them to varying degrees. How visible they may be and how much they affect the passage of light through the diamond determine the degree to which they may affect the value of the stone.
Old fashioned trade terms like “feathers”, “clouds”, “eye clean” or “carbon” can be both inaccurate and confusing as they are often applied indiscriminately without consistent meaning and/or definition. Simply put, blemishes, no matter the type or source occur on the surface of the stone. Inclusions are within the stone. So-called “carbon” are dark inclusions and others are white inclusions. (By the way, all diamonds are composed of pure carbon under tremendous heat and pressure.) The larger, denser and more noticeable a blemish or inclusion is, the more it may impact the passage of light and the more it will negatively impact the value of the diamond.
You will notice we sometimes use the term “eye clean” to describe our diamonds. This usually means the diamond does not have any noticeable flaws to an untrained, naked eye (no tools or magnifiers being used). We make a conscious effort to describe our diamonds using only the most precise, comparative and transparent terms so our customers can fairly and accurately judge the value we offer.
The Gemological Institute of America, an organization dedicated to education and furthering the study of diamonds and gems, created a grading system to apply to all diamonds in order to measure degrees of clarity. This system has been nearly universally adopted by all gem labs worldwide including IGI that issues the majority of certificates for Clean Origin diamonds. All determinations of clarity grade are based upon observable blemishes and inclusions visible to a trained eye under 10X magnification.
The clarity scale as mentioned above and in use on this site is as follows:
Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible to the trained eye under 10X magnification
Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible to the trained eye under 10X magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): These have inclusion(s) so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to observe under 10X magnification. The difference between VVS1 and VVS2 is a matter of a very fine degree.
Very Slightly Included (Vs1 and VS2): Minor inclusions may be observed with effort under 10X magnification by a trained grader. Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10X magnification
Included (I1, I2 and I3): Inclusions are readily observable under 10X magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Observable blemishes or inclusions are “plotted” on a diagram contained in the certificate that accompanies every stone sold by Clean Origin. These plots or diagrams show the relative size and location of the inclusions or blemishes.
Clarity is just one of the 4C’s in diamond grading. Along with color, cut and carat weight, this combination of these four factors determines the beauty and the value of a diamond whether mined or lab-grown.
At Clean Origin we want all of our customers to be well informed before making this important decision. Don’t be concerned about choosing a “good” or “bad” diamond. “Good” and “bad” are just relative terms that reflect someone else’s opinion.
YOUR CHOICE should be based on YOUR desires, YOUR budget and YOUR sense of what matters to YOU. Our diamond experts will be happy to guide you through the process and answer any questions to help you select the diamond that is perfect for you.
“The diamond I like is perfect for me in almost every way but seems to have some small inclusions at the edge. Can those be covered by a prong?”
Depending on the exact location, our master setters will make every effort to try to cover any inclusions that can be disguised with a prong.
“Should I be more concerned about clarity or cut when I look at a diamond?”
Both elements are important. Since Clean Origin sells no diamonds less than SI clarity grade, even our lowest grade will require magnification to see any inclusions. A round diamond with an excellent or ideal cut grade will provide the maximum possible sparkle within each clarity grade. In fancy shapes there are no cut grades, so pay closer attention to clarity in these diamonds as well as polish and symmetry.
“Will the side diamonds on my mounting match the clarity grade of my center stone?”
All of our melees (side diamonds) are F-G color and SI clarity grades. We try to make sure they match as best as possible. As for clarity, it makes no visual difference due the comparatively small size of the side stone.
“What causes the inclusions in diamonds?”
When a diamond is formed, under tremendous heat and pressure, whether in the earth or in a laboratory, tiny crystals can sometimes become trapped inside the stone. The diamond crystal can also develop irregularities in its atomic structure. Blemishes on the surface of the stone are most often a result of the cutting process and usually quite small. The size, position, and ease of observation of these inclusions and blemishes affect the clarity grade of the diamond.
“Will the inclusions in the diamond I like affect its durability?”
The short answer is No. Although there are inclusions which may break a diamond’s surface and could affect durability, they are in clarity grades below those sold by Clean Origin.