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Diamond Guide




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 magnifying loupe.

Terms Used to Describe Clarity


  • Imperfections, or flaws, inside a diamond.


  • Tiny spots of white, black, or other colors.


  • 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.

Fl, Flawless

  • No internal or external flaws.

IF, Internally Flawless

  • No internal flaws.

    Slight external blemishes.

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 experienced grader.

SI1 & SI2, Slightly included

  • Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader.

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 stone.

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:

Laser Treatments

  • A laser is used to remove some types of inclusions. An experienced jeweler can usually see the trail left by the laser.

    Laser treatments are permanent.

Fracture Filling

  • Tiny cracks in a diamond are filled with a colorless substance.


  • Fracture filling is not considered permanent.

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.

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