Diamond clarity charts have you confused? Want to know what diamond clarity is best for value and beauty? Loose diamond experts and pundits are always quick to state that you need to be taking into consideration the 4c's when buying a diamond, and a gemstones clarity is an important part of establishing value. Your local jeweler will quickly pull out their clarity chart, let's take a look at what all means for you and me, the consumer.
Diamonds are discovered with varying quality levels and the clarity of the gemstone explains to how many imperfections the stone contains. A typical imperfection will look like a fleck, or blemish if you look closely at the stone through natural sunlight. Internal blemishes are referred to within the industry as inclusions, and blemishes are the term used for imperfections on the surface of the diamond. The GIA, or Gemological Institute of America, years ago devised a chart of guidelines to help standardize the diamond grading process.
The clarity chart contains the following clarity grades:
- FL – Flawless
- IF – Internally Flawless
- VVS1 and VVS2 – Very Very Slightly included
- VS1 and VS2 – Very Slightly Included
- SI1 and SI2 – Slightly Included
- I1 – I2 – I3 – Included
As you can see from the chart grades above, the clarity grades scale from a perfect 'flawless' diamond down all the way to stones that are graduated as having a number of flaws. The value of the diamond you are considering will thus be subjected to priced to reflect the difference in perfection and rarity.
Let's take a little deeper look at the clarity grades for diamonds and what they mean.
1. Flawless F1 diamonds are considered perfect. They include no blemishes or inclusions and are the most expensive diamonds because of the rarity of perfection.
2. IF or internally flawless diamonds are stones, as the name indicates, that contain no internal inclusion flaws, but contain minor external blemishes. It is important to note this chart is based on a 10x magnification, a closer inspection may reveal previously unseen flaws.
3. VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds contain minor inclusions that can be seen by looking from either the top or bottom of the diamond. The location of the flaw determinates whether it is a VVS1 or VVS2 grade stone.
4. VS1 and VS2 is the next diamond grade in which the stone contains minor flaws and or blemishes, but still minor. The defects are still not visible with the naked eye, but can be detected at 10x magnification.
5. SI1 and SI2 continue the downward trend in quality including even greater flaws, but still, these imperfections are invisible to the naked eye at this grade level on the chart. You still will be buying a diamond that has undetectable imperfections to the average eye despite the flaws would be under under magnifcation.
6. I1, I2, and I3 is where we enter the section on the diamond clarity grading chart that you can view imperfections with the naked eye. Always try to view a gemstone under direct sunlight and you will be able to see small blemishes or inclusions, the number of which will help determine price from a reputable jeweler.
A final note on the diamond clarity grade chart: Do not let a jeweler tell you what would be the best quality for your purchase. There is nothing wrong with a I1 graded diamond if you will not be examining it closely, although it might not be the perfect choice for an engagement ring that will be shown off and compared. Take your time, compare the brilliance of a variety of gemstones, and choose the best for your next purchase now that you know how to read the diamond clarity chart.