Clarity refers to the amount of debris found within the diamond. Or in other terms, how much stuff is there in the diamond that’s not diamond. Just like any other measurable metric a certified diamond will feature a Clarity rating. The most common is the GIA Clarity scale that ranges from Internally Flawless (IF), to Very Very Small Inclusions 1 (VVS1), to Very Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2), to Very Small Inclusions 1 (VS1), to Very Small Inclusions 2 (VS2), to Small Inclusions 1 (SI1), to Small Inclusions 2 (SI2), to Inclusions 1 (I1) and then Inclusions 2 (I2).
Internally Flawless to Very Very Small Inclusions
Any diamond with a Clarity rating of either IF, VVS1 or VVS2 is for all intents or purposes perfectly clean. Inclusions found in VVS1 & VVS2 diamonds require a gemological microscope to be seen, as they are far too small to even be seen with a jeweler’s loupe. While these represent that absolute cleanest diamonds, it’s almost impossible to appreciate this with the naked eye.
Very Small Inclusions
VS1 and VS2 inclusions are larger and can be located easily with a magnifying glass. However, they are almost always invisible to the naked eye. Some VS2 inclusions will seem more noticeable when seen magnified, but these the Clarity ranges represent your best value alternatives.
SI1 & SI2 are probably some of the trickiest inclusions to judge. The reason being is that at these stages you are typically no longer dealing with a single spec, but multiple specs spread out across multiple layers. However, this can work to your advantage. If the diamond was cut to minimize the visibility of these inclusions it can be very difficult to see with the naked eye. Also, many tiny inclusions can place a diamond in the SI1 range, without any one inclusions being obviously apparent. If buying a ring with multiple stones you should feel comfortable picking diamonds in this range for any of the adjoining settings.
The final two categories, I1 & I2 should be dismissed. In all reality it is quite rare for a diamond with such a Clarity rating to be used for jewelry, so it’s really a moot point.
Is there more to Inclusions than just a speck of dust?
Here’s the rub when it comes to Clarity and inclusions. While the rating is always a good starting point in determining where to find value, you really need to see a magnified image of the diamond. The problem (or opportunity) comes from the fact that inclusions come in all different sizes, can be located in different layers and locations within the diamond, and can vary significantly in the intensity of their color. Some inclusions are easier to identify than others due to their color, while some can blend in naturally. Additionally, some inclusions can be found in the center area of the diamond, clearly visible through the diamond’s table. While other can be found on the outer edges of the diamond’s girdle, easily hidden by a prong or other setting.
The key here is to get a clear and distinct picture of the inclusions and understand how it will relate given the setting and shape of the diamond. Remember that any brilliant cut diamond (such as the popular Round & Princess cuts) will hide a flaw more effectively than a step-cut diamond (such as an Emerald cut). Ultimately, Clarity can be used as an effective means of garnering the highest possible value, as much of the inherent price premium paid for higher grades cannot be appreciated. If you need help wading through the Clarity pool make sure to contact us and we’ll help you get the most out of your purchase.