How To Evaluate Diamond Clarity
Clarity is a term used to describe the absence or
presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a diamond or other
gemstone. A perfect stone with perfect clarity (clearness) is
rare, and most flaws that do exist in jewelry grade diamonds
cannot be seen without looking at stones through a jeweler's
Terms Used to
- Imperfections, or flaws, inside a
- Tiny spots of white, black, or other
- Cracks. Some cause no problems at all.
Other could cause the stone to split.
- Colored and uncolored crystals.
- Flaws on a diamond's exterior surface.
- Many exterior flaws are the result of the
cutting and polishing process.
How the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
grades diamond clarity
All grading takes place under 10X magnification.
- No internal or external flaws.
IF, Internally Flawless
VVS1 & VVS2, Very, very slightly included.
- Minute inclusions. Difficult for even an
experienced grader to detect.
VS1 & VS2, Very slightly included
- Minute inclusions. Not easily seen by an
SI1 & SI2, Slightly included
- Inclusions that are noticeable to an
I1 & I2 & I3, Included
- Obvious inclusions that may affect
transparency and brilliance.
Don't be concerned if the clarity of the
diamond you choose is not near the top the scale. Gems ranked
near the top are rare—and expensive.
Read the explanations for each category and
you'll find that most flaws cannot be seen without
magnification, even by an experienced jeweler. Most are tiny
imperfections that do not affect a diamond's brilliance. It
often isn't until you reach the bottom level of "I" categories
that imperfections begin to take away from the beauty of the
Where the flaw rests in relation to the
diamond's cut is an important consideration. Some flaws become
more noticeable when positioned in specific areas of the stone.
Others may be more hidden. Ask your jeweler for more advice on
the positioning of flaws.
In her book "Diamonds, The Antoinette Matlins
Buying Guide," the author encourages us to get to know the
imperfections within our diamonds, pointing out that since no
two are alike, they provide an important road map that may help
us identify our property later.
Common Treatments to Improve Clarity
Diamond clarity can be improved, but not all enhancement
techniques are permanent. The two most popular treatments are:
- Tiny cracks in a diamond are filled with
a colorless substance.
- Fracture filling is not considered
Treatments allow us to own a diamond that
appears to be of a higher clarity than it truly is. Treated
diamonds should cost less, so it's important to do business with
a jeweler you trust, one who evaluates and discloses any type of
treatment that's been performed.
Clarity is just one element you must consider
before you buy a gemstone. You'll look at its color, its cut,
its carat weight, and its price. Think of your quest to purchase
a diamond as a large jigsaw puzzle. It's only when all the
pieces of the puzzle fall into place that you find the perfect
diamond for your needs.