Diamond Clarity Grading and Best Buying Tips | GemTrove

 

Underatanding Clarity Grades

 

Below we are illustrating the general inclusions and blemishes, the same way they are represented by GIA on their Diamond plot. GIA uses green colour for surface blemishes and the colour red for internal inclusions. At times the nature of inclusion (for instance, when it reaches the surface) calls for the use of both green and red colour to represent. The black colour at some places is used to represent extra facets in the diamond. Picture: Inclusion Terms

Diamond Buying tips keeping clarity in mind 

If you are one of those who cannot stand imperfections, then you shall choose a VVS2 or better diamond. Nearly about 10% of all the diamonds sold are found into this category.

However, the most popular range of diamonds is VS1 and VS2 diamonds. The diamonds in these categories appear flawless to naked eyes, and almost half of all the diamond purchases fall into this category. Also, they are the fraction of the price of actually flawless diamonds.

After the VS1 and VS2 range, the next most popular range of diamonds is SI1. In this range, the inclusions are generally not compelling enough to affect the diamond's appearance when viewed by a casual observer. Customers often go for this clarity range in replacement for a higher colour or cut grade. This kind of right combination of clarity, cut and colour often results in an attractive, shining diamond with no imperfections detected without close observation. The same can be said for the diamonds of SI2 grade under 1 carat. In the diamonds above 1 carat, where SI2 inclusions are easily detectable, and clarity is more important, the SI2 also turns out to be half the price of a VS1 grade diamond. Around one-third of the diamonds purchased fall into SI1 and SI2 category.

Sometimes, customers are primarily concerned with the price and size of diamonds; in that case, Si2 may be the best option for them. Even though the inclusions are very much visible to untrained eyes, customers often compromise and sacrifice the clarity for what it affords in size.

Larger the size of a diamond, easier it is to detect the imperfections; hence clarity becomes more important while choosing a diamond. In case of diamonds above 2 carats, the VS2 or higher clarity grades are the safest bet to avoid any signs of visible inclusions. For the diamonds between 1 & 2 carats, the SI1 or better clarity grades will not have inclusions visible to the untrained eyes easily. Besides all this, clarity is least considered in the diamonds less than 1 carat as per the 4 C's of diamond grading.

Diamonds of brilliant cut like princess, round, oval, pear, cushion and marquise don't show inclusions better than step cut diamonds like Asscher and emerald. It is recommended to move upward on a clarity grade while purchasing a step cut diamond (Example: If you wish to buy the lowest grade which has no visible inclusions then you shall choose a VS2 grade rather than an SI1 grade)

If, while purchasing a diamond, you receive a clarity range, i.e. SI1-SI2 instead of specific clarity grade, then you should know that the diamond you are purchasing is not certified by GIA as GIA does not give clarity certification in ranges. The diamond merchant has only scaled the estimated clarity of the diamond by using GIA terminology. Diamond Clarity 

Since each of them is formed naturally, under the extreme pressure and heat, visibly or virtually all of the diamonds come with certain birthmarks: tiny imperfections inside the diamonds (known as inclusions) and on its surface (called blemishes). A diamond's clarity is the extents to which these inclusions and blemishes are present in the naturally occurred diamond. Diamonds with plentiful or momentous inclusions or blemishes possess less brilliance, which is because the defects or flaws interfere with the path of light through that diamond. Generally, the inclusions are positioned under the bezel facets or near the girdle as they are difficult to be detected there and the position of inclusions affects its possibility to be seen. However, diamond-cutting artists make every effort to cut the stone in a way that the inclusions are not visible through the finished diamond's table.

Practically all the diamonds are graded for its clarity using the 11 point diamond clarity scale by GIA, which also includes the diamonds not graded by GIA (each GemTrove diamond is GIA Certified) As per the GIA diamond clarity grading, the number, colour, size, position and reflectivity of each flaw is considered under 10X magnification. Here is the GIA diamond clarity chart with important definitions, followed by further explanatory comments by GemTrove.

GIA clarity chart diamond

FL - Flawless

No inclusions or blemishes visible to trained eyes using the 10X magnification

This type of diamond is The; only 1 out of 5000 jewellery quality diamonds is graded under this category. It is the best diamond clarity.

 

IF - Internally Flawless

No visible inclusions only blemishes are visible to a trained diamond grader using the 10X magnification

Diamonds of FL and IF category appears identical unless a trained diamond grader under 10X magnification views them. Only less than 3% diamonds of jewellery quality are graded under IF

 

VVS1 and VVS2 - Very Very Slightly Included

These type of inclusions are difficult for a trained diamond grader to detect under 10X magnification

VVS1 grade of inclusions is typically visible from a diamond's pavilion. However, VVS2 grade of inclusions is visible from a diamond's crown. In both the cases, inclusions are not visible to naked eyes and appear similar to the higher grading inclusions unless they are also viewed by a trained diamond grader under 10X magnification.

 

VS1 and VS2 - Very Slightly Included

Inclusions in this category are visible under 10X magnification, but these inclusions can be characterised under minor inclusions.

In this grade of diamonds, very precise inclusions can be seen only with difficulty under 10X magnification by the trained diamond grader. These inclusions are not visible to naked eyes; only 1 in 100 untrained observers can detect the grade VS2 inclusions with naked eyes, that too under ideal condition.

 

SI1 and SI2 - Slightly Included

Inclusions in this grade of diamonds can be detected easily under 10X magnification.

SI1 is considered to be the lowest grade with flaws generally visible to the naked eyes. SI2 inclusions are also visible to the naked eyes, although they require close inspection to be detected.

 

I1, I2 and I3 - Included

Inclusions in this grade are obvious under 10X magnification and very much affect a diamond’s brilliance and transparency.

With three different grades, flaws and inclusions in diamonds under this grade category are the visible under 10X magnification. In fact, the inclusions are very much visible to the untrained eyes as well. GemTrove does not recommend such grades of diamonds for buying.

If you have any queries or questions about diamond clarity and other aspects of diamonds, you can ask our diamond consultant for the answer. Our qualified gemologists will answer any questions you have, and if you like, they can search for diamonds on your behalf to match your criteria. Or you can also visit our office (with prior appointment) to personally see, touch and feel your diamond.

 

The plot of a Diamonds Clarity

clarity grading inclusion chart

Due to some limitations, a photographer cannot capture the fine distinctions of diamond clarity; a diamond plot is used by GIA to map a diamond's internal and external flaws. A diamond plot is a graphical representation of each flaw that affects the overall clarity grade of a diamond. These flaws are detected under 10X magnification by the trained diamond grader.

Although the plot represents the type and position of each flaw in the diamond, the real visibility of that flaw is declared in the diamond clarity grade itself, i.e. two identical diamonds may show very similar plots, but they would be different in clarity grades, reflecting the actual visibility and severity of the documented flaws.

Picture Diamond Plot (This picture is an example of GIA Diamond Plot: The "Key To Symbols" section represents the flaws in order of severity)

 

Caution before you proceed to look for a diamond 

A Diamond plot does not necessarily represent the real appearance of a diamond. For the lower grades like SI1 or I1, 2,3, it is recommended not to assume that a visibly clear plot indicates that there are no visible flaws for naked eyes. Recurrently, a plot may hold only one or two inclusion marks, but these are so intense that they warrant a lower clarity grade of the diamond. Similarly, a messy plot doesn't mean the diamond is visibly flawed. Do speak to the GemTrove diamond consultants, when in doubt, they'll be glad to help you.

Below we are illustrating the general inclusions and blemishes, the same way they are represented by GIA on their Diamond plot. GIA uses green colour for surface blemishes and the colour red for internal inclusions. At times the nature of inclusion (for instance, when it reaches the surface) calls for the use of both green and red colour to represent. The black colour at some places is used to represent extra facets in the diamond. Picture: Inclusion Terms.

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