What is A Diamond Clarity Chart?
Out of all of the 4Cs of diamonds - cut, color, clarity, and carat - clarity is the “C” most obscured to the naked eye. Most diamond lovers rely on gemologists to define it on a diamond clarity chart. But even then, any grade beyond “flawless” can be difficult to understand.
Clarity can play an important role when buying a diamond or an engagement ring featuring a lab-grown diamond. Read on to learn more about navigating a diamond clarity chart to find the VRAI created diamond meant just for you.
What Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity refers to the visual purity of a diamond and is determined by its number of inclusions and blemishes. Clarity is difficult to notice without the help of a magnifier.
What Is A Diamond Clarity Chart?
Five factors are considered when assigning a diamond’s clarity grade. The size and number of imperfections, their position within the diamond, how they impact its durability, and the noticeable contrast between the imperfections and the diamond itself.
Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and therefore rank highest in clarity grade. For a diamond to be deemed Flawless, no inclusions or blemishes must be visible under 10-power magnification. There are also Internally Flawless diamonds.
After these high rankings, diamonds are graded as Very, very slightly included or VVS1 and VVS2, as well as Very slightly included, or VS1 and VS2. Once again, the inclusions in these diamonds are invisible to the untrained eye. If you're unsure what these terms mean, you can learn more about VVS diamonds.
When it comes to Slightly included diamonds, or SI1 and SI2, these flaws can become visible to the naked eye. Imperfect diamonds are rated I1, 12, and 13 for their various degrees of visible inclusion.
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Diamond clarity ratings and the clarity scale
FL - Flawless
FL diamonds are Flawless with no internal or external imperfections visible to a skilled grader under 10-power magnification.
IF - Internally flawlessIF diamonds are Internally Flawless but may have small surface blemishes visible under magnification.
VVS1 - Very, very slightly included, first degree
VVS diamonds are Very, Very Slightly Included with tiny inclusions that are difficult to see even under magnification. The “1” in this rating puts these particular diamonds at the top of their grade.
VVS2 - Very, very slightly included, second degree
VVS diamonds are Very, Very Slightly Included with tiny inclusions that are difficult to see even under magnification. The “2” in this ranking means that they are just beneath the VVS1 rating.
VS1 - Very slightly included, first degree
VS diamonds are Very Slightly Included with minor inclusions that range from difficult (VS1) to easier (VS2) to see under magnification. The “1” in this rating makes them slightly superior to VS2 diamonds.
VS2 - Very slightly included, second degree
VS diamonds are Very Slightly Included with minor inclusions that range from difficult (VS1) to easier (VS2) to see under magnification. The “2” in this rating puts them just below VSI diamonds.
SI1 - Slightly included, first degree
SI diamonds are “Slightly Included.” Inclusions might not be visible to the naked eye, but are easy to see when under magnification. The “1” in this rating makes them slightly superior to SI2 diamonds.
SI2 - Slightly included, second degree
SI diamonds are “Slightly Included.” Inclusions might not be visible to the naked eye, but are easy to see when under magnification. The “2” in this rating makes them slightly inferior to SI1 diamonds.
How important is clarity in a diamond?
Inclusions occur naturally during the diamond growth process and are what make each diamond unique. Flawless diamonds are rare. The rarer a diamond is, the more valuable it becomes.
The majority of diamonds will have slight inclusions or imperfections. While these imperfections are often invisible to the untrained eye, clarity is still important to the overall brilliance of a diamond. Internal spots and lines can affect how light passes through the stone. Inclusions can obstruct the refraction and return of light and can impact how cloudy a diamond appears.
Internally flawless diamonds therefore allow more light to pass through, usually resulting in greater brilliance. Imperfect diamonds — the opposite of flawless — will appear dull.
How to select diamond clarity
The higher the clarity grade, the more you can expect to pay for a diamond. Given this “C’s” less visible nature, there is some opportunity to save when selecting clarity. The best value is found in diamonds with inclusions that can’t be seen under magnification—those at the VS level. As with any “C,” exploring different combinations of carat, size, and shape can also afford you added flexibility in diamond clarity and price.
Diamond clarity and carat weight
Certain diamond sizes are more susceptible to visible inclusions. The larger surface area of higher carat weight diamonds can make inclusions more visible. Consider increasing clarity grade as you size up in carat weight to maximize brilliance and scintillation.
The same can be true in reverse. When choosing diamonds smaller in size or carat weight, inclusions are less visible. This means that clarity is less of a priority should you be selecting a diamond of smaller carat weight.
Diamond clarity and shape
Some diamond shapes mask inclusions better than others. The facets of brilliant-cut diamond shapes such as the Round Brilliant, Cushion, Oval, Marquise, Pear, and Trillion shapes may tolerate lower clarity grades as they reflect light from a number of angles.
But the large, rectangular facets of step-cut diamonds, such as Emerald or Asscher shaped diamonds, benefit from a higher clarity grade, as they emphasize transparency and allow you to see deeper into the diamond. Prioritize a higher clarity grade with step-cut shapes.
Frequently asked questions about diamond clarity
What is the best diamond clarity?
The best diamond clarity rating is Flawless (FL). These are the rarest diamonds in the world; less than 0.05% of all diamonds are Flawless or Internally Flawless.
What are different types of inclusions?
An inclusion is an internal formation of a diamond. Below are examples of inclusions.
- Cavity: An angular opening on the surface of the diamond created by feathering
- Cleavage: A straight crack that can extend to the surface
- Cloud: A group of tiny crystals found inside the diamond
- Crystal: Tiny matter found inside the diamond that can extend to the surface
- Feather: A fracture found inside the diamond extending to the surface
- Internal graining: A white or colored line found inside the diamond
- Knot: A transparent crystal that extends to the surface
What are blemishes?
Blemishes are external formations on the surface of a diamond. Below are examples of blemishes.
- Chip: A piece of diamond broken at the surface
- Nick: A minor surface indentation along perimeter of the surface
- Pit: A small hole on the surface
- Polish line: A small groove left on facets after polishing
- Scratch: A fine line on the surface
Should I buy an I1, I2, or I3 diamond?
It is not recommended to buy Included diamonds, particularly for something as special as an engagement ring setting. For this reason, VRAI does not offer diamonds below SI2 on the diamond clarity chart.
What causes diamond inclusions?
Inclusions are caused by either the extreme heat, extreme pressure, or both during the growth process.
Do lab-grown diamonds have inclusions?
Lab-grown diamonds have inclusions, just like mined diamonds. They occur naturally during the growth process. Both origins occasionally produce flawless diamonds and must be graded for their clarity on a scale from Flawless to Included.
How do I buy a diamond based on clarity?
VRAI created diamonds are available for purchase online or by appointment.
To purchase online, browse VRAI’s diamond inventory and set filters for clarity, shape, and more. Then simply add to your bag with the click of a button.
For personalized guidance and expert advice on diamond clarity, book an appointment with our diamond experts, in-store or virtually. You’ll receive in-depth diamond education as well as help in selecting the diamond clarity you desire.