Diamond grading can be a very confusing topic to navigate, so we wanted to break it down for you in a series of posts about each of the 4C's. Today, we are discussing clarity!
What is diamond clarity? Clarity is the grade assigned to diamonds based on the amount of inclusions in the diamond. As natural diamonds form in the Earth, they pick up trace amounts of elements, such as carbon and boron, that result in these inclusions. They can appear as colored specks, small lines, or other marks.
Diamond clarity ranges from being obviously visible to the naked eye, to only visible under magnification, to having no inclusions at all!
- Flawless (F) is the highest clarity grading that a diamond can receive. Flawless (F) diamonds have no internal or external inclusions, even under 10x or greater magnification. These diamonds are exceptionally rare, and make up only a fraction of a percentage of all diamonds.
- Internally Flawless (IF) is next on the clarity scale. These diamonds are very similar to Flawless (F)diamonds, with the one exception being that Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds have clarity characteristics on the surface of the diamond. So, while they have external inclusions, internally they have none! These inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, but show up under magnification as nicks or chips on the surface of the diamond. Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds are also very rare.
- Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) is the next grading, and is split into two categories. Very Very Slightly Included 1 (VVS1) is the higher grading of the two, and has no inclusions visible at 10x magnification, but does have visible inclusions under greater magnification. Very Very Slightly Included 2 (VVS2) diamonds is the lower grading in this category, and will either have inclusions that are faintly visible at 10x magnification, or will have more inclusions at a greater magnification than a Very Very Slightly (VVS1) diamond. These diamonds are all considered “eye clean” since any inclusions would only be visible under magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS) diamonds are also split into two categories as well. Very Slightly Included 1 (VS1) diamonds will have at least one visible inclusion under 10x magnification, but it could be very difficult to locate! Very Slightly Included 2 (VS2) diamonds will have very few, but visible, inclusions at 10x magnification. These diamonds are also eye clean. This is the minimum grade that Melanie will source for engagement rings, though often she opts for higher grades, depending on the piece!
- Slightly Included (SI) is next up. Also split into two categories, some Slightly Included diamonds may have inclusions visible to the naked eye, but at Melanie Casey, our SI diamonds are hand picked to be eye clean! Slightly Included 1 (SI1) and Slightly Included 2 (SI2) diamonds have inclusions that are easily seen under magnification, but are almost always eye clean. Slightly Included 2 (SI2) diamonds will have a greater number of inclusions, and may have some visible inclusions depending on the cut of the diamond (which we will discuss in another blog post).
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) diamonds all have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. These diamonds aren’t usually considered gem grade, but are sometimes valued for their clarity characteristics! For instance, rustic diamonds have both clarity and color characteristics that make them beautiful and unique.
Pictured: an I2 clarity diamond (left) and a VS2 clarity diamond (right).
Please reach out to us if you have any questions on diamond clarity! We take diamond quality very seriously, and Melanie's high standards are always met when she sources diamonds.