Diamond Clarity Explained
Because they are formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure; virtually all diamonds contain "birthmarks"; small imperfections inside the diamond (called inclusions), or on its surface (called blemishes).
Clarity refers to the degree to which these imperfections are present. Diamonds which contain numerous or significant inclusions or blemishes have less brilliance because the flaws interfere with the path of light through the diamond.
The position of an inclusion affects how easily it can be seen. Diamond cutters make every effort to cut a stone so that inclusions are not visible through the table of the finished diamond. The preferred position for inclusions is under the bezel facets or near the girdle because they are harder to see there.
We discuss the factors affecting diamond clarity.
What Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity is a qualitative assessment of the flaws present in a diamond.
Basically, the flaws can be classified into 2 types of categories depending on where they are found; blemishes (external flaws like scratches and chips) and inclusions (internal flaws like pinpoints and crystals).
Diamond Clarity Categories
FL - Flawless
No internal or external blemishes when examined under a 10x microscope. Diamonds in this category cannot contain internal graining that is reflective, whitish, colored, or which significantly affects transparency.
IF - Internally Flawless
No internal inclusions, but minor surface blemishes which cannot be removed with polishing, such as surface grain lines or natural and extra facets on the crown. Blemishes that can be removed by minor re-polishing separate the internally flawless from the flawless grade.
VVS1, VS2 - Very, Very Slightly Included
Minute inclusions, such as reflective internal graining, which are difficult to locate using a 10x microscope.
VS1, VS2 - Very Slightly Included
Small inclusions, such as small included crystals, which are visible using a 10x microscope.
SI1, SI2 Slightly Included
Inclusions that can be seen easily under a 10x microscope, and may also be seen with the naked eye using a white background. Inclusions in these diamonds cannot be seen through the crown of the diamond.
I1 - Imperfect 1
Inclusions can be seen with the naked eye and are quite obvious under a 10x microscope.
I2 - Imperfect 2
Inclusions can be seen with the naked eye and may interfere with transparency and brilliance.
I3 - Imperfect 3
Dark inclusions which are very noticeable to the naked eye, which interfere with transparency. Diamonds in this category may contain cleavages that are likely to worsen with wear.
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