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Home : Diamond Tutorial : The 4C's plus one
 
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Clarity

The clarity of a diamond refers to how clear, or "clean" the diamond is. The more "clean" the diamond, the higher the price. Most diamonds have "imperfections" in them. The clarity scale is a measure of the severity of those imperfections or "inclusions" as it is known in the trade.

For example, a deep break in a diamond which is not that visible when you look at the stone face-up, could sometimes have a greater impact on the clarity of a stone, than a small black crystal which you can see very clearly face-up.

The following is the GIA Diamond clarity-scale:

FL-Flawless

These stones have no imperfections inside or on the outside of the stone under the magnification of a loupe of 10 power.

IF-Internally Flawless

These stones have no inclusions under a loupe with a 10 power magnification.

VVS1,VVS2-Very Very Slightly Imperfect

These stones have very small inclusions which are very  difficult to see under a loupe with a 10 power magnification.

VS1,VS2-Very Slightly Imperfect

These stones have small inclusions which are slightly difficult to difficult to see under a loupe with a 10 power magnification.

SI1,SI2-Slightly Imperfect

These stones have inclusions which are fairly easy to see under a loupe with a 10 power magnification, or visible to the naked eye.

I1,I2,I3-Imperfect

These stones have inclusions which range from eye visible to very easily seen to the naked eye.

Here is a table summarizing clarity grades:

Clarity FL IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 I2 I3
Scale Flawless-
Internally Flawless
Very Very Slightly Imperfect Very Slightly Imperfect Slightly Imperfect Imperfect

SI3

Outside of the GIA Diamond clarity scale is a grade you may have seen called SI3. The Rap Sheet, which is a Trade Publication, honors the SI3 grade which is given out by EGL, the European Gemological Laboratory. It is described as a split between the SI2 and I1 clarity grade.

If you really want to *see* what the differences in the Clarity Grades look like under magnification, there is an excellent book by Gary Roskin called Photo Masters for Diamond Grading. It provides photographs and explanations of different Clarity Grades and the inclusions causing them. We also have a Gem Gallery with many great pictures of inclusions and clarity grades.

How much does "clarity" affect cost?

Let's take a typical Diamond through different clarity grades to see how clarity affects prices. Let's start with a 1.00 carat Diamond of G color and SI1 Clarity. If you move up to a VS1, you will pay approximately an extra $1000 per carat. Move up to VVS1, the increase will be approximately $700 per carat. Improve the clarity to IF and the increase will be approximately $700 per carat.

Anecdotes from the Lab:

Flawless grades are very rarely given out. The best grades are usually Internally Flawless. However, external flaws can generally be polished away with little to virtually no loss of weight to the diamond.

While the hardness of diamond is superb, a 10 on the Mohs Scale, it is still important to be careful when handling diamonds. Particularly those with pointed culets. It has happened that culets can get damaged even in a lab setting!

Further Reading:

Color vs. Clarity
Clarity Enhanced Diamonds
Diamond Crystal Inclusion
Really nice looking natural on diamond
Included Garnet Crystal in Diamond
Kite Shaped Natural on Diamond
One of the most unique inclusions in Diamond
Included Diamond Crystal in Diamond
Say hello to Laser Drill Holes
Novice viewing clarity of Diamond
Clarity Question

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