Clarity is the grading of the imperfections contained within a diamond under 10X magnification. Grading is assessed by the size, type, position and sum total of all the imperfections within the diamond. The majority of diamonds contain some kind of imperfection but a diamond’s cut is designed in a way that will hide any small inclusions from being seen without magnification. When diamond cutting manufacturers look at a rough diamond they assess it for cutting the largest possible diamond but also as to how they can cut the diamond to avoid or or best conceal any inclusions that may be in the diamond. The fewer inclusions contained within the diamond the rarer and more expensive the diamond will become. Diamonds are graded from IF internally flawless, VVS and VS very slight, SI slight then I or P for visually included diamonds. There are many types of inclusions which include fractures, needles, black or white marks, clouds, indents and several others. Often if the inclusion is in the central area of the diamond or is quite large it has a greater chance of being seen by the naked eye. A diamonds grade is given from a visual assessment by up to three different diamond grading experts within an international diamond certifying laboratory.
What is the importance of diamond clarity?
Although there are many grades within the non-visible range they will all appear the same when viewed without magnification. Almost all inclusions within the non-visible range will not have any impact on the brilliance or light refractiveness of the diamond as they are too small to have any significant impact on the diamond. We often refer to clarity as an on paper valuation as clarity affects the rarity and value of the diamond but not its appearance. Clarity has a very high impact on the price of the diamond and must be considered carefully when selecting your diamond.
What clarity diamond should I choose?
The majority of people wishing to purchase a large diamond are looking for the best value to quality ratio and a VS2 – SI1 is often the best grade to choose. The inclusions within this range are few and small completely non-visible but can be seen under magnification.
Diamonds of a clarity grade above a VS1 have very minor marks which are difficult to see even under magnification. These are rare and expensive diamond that only need to be purchased if looking to buy the best diamond where price is not a concern and all other quality requirements have been achieved.
Si2 clarity diamonds must be chosen with a hint of caution as although technically eye-clean by standard grading practices, the inclusion can still often be seen by the naked eye when moved at different angles. For a totally clean diamond it is suggested to avoid the SI2 grading but as the size of the diamond increases it can become necessary when the budget becomes stretched.
One other aspect to consider is the shape and size of the diamond affects the grading of the diamond. The round brilliant cut was originally designed and is regarded as the best style cut to hide a diamond’s inclusion. Many of the other fancy cut diamond shapes have larger open facets where it is easy to see into the diamond. This means that it is harder to hide inclusions and they have to be smaller and in a better position to achieve the same grade as a round diamond. The size of a diamond will also affect the visibility of inclusions, as a diamond increases in size the number of facets does not increase so they become larger opening them up to become more transparent at certain angles.
For general value purchase for any size diamond we would recommend choosing a SI1 clarity grade for round brilliant pear, oval, marquise, heart and cushion cut diamonds and VS2 for any of the fancy open faceted cut diamonds princess, emerald, radiant, asscher and baguette.
How important is diamond clarity
Of all of the quality grades of a diamond the clarity is for most people the least crucial and can make a very big impact on the cost of your diamond. It is much rarer to find a diamond with perfect flawless clarity and the more perfect the clarity of the diamond the more expensive. However most people are just concerned that the diamond does not have any visible inclusions to the naked eye which mean a VS2-SI1 clarity is perfectly acceptable.
Any diamond that is graded pique (P or I) will be visibly included although sometimes this can initially be difficult to pick up in the diamond until thoroughly inspected. If you are going to purchase a visibly included diamond the price will be quite cheap and be aware of exact what the inclusion is before you purchase the diamond.
An SI2 clarity diamond is technically eye clean many SI2 clarity diamonds will still have very faintly identifiable inclusions under very close inspection and should not be considered 100% eye clean especially in larger size diamonds. Although not perfectly eye clean an Si2 diamond can be great value and if the clarity is not a great concern then they can be a great value purchase if selected correctly.