The pricing of a diamond is determined by its grading based on its 4C’s (color, clarity, cut and carat weight). Clarity is one of the most important amongst the 4C’s since it impacts the diamond’s value.
How is a Diamond Formed?
To understand clarity in a diamond, it is good to know a bit about how a diamond is formed. A diamond is a crystallized carbon structure formed beneath the earth’s surface millions of years under perfect conditions of heat and pressure (lab grown forms differently, but is still made of carbon and graded on the same scale for clarity). During this process, a number of internal characteristics known as inclusions and external characteristics known as blemishes may be formed. We could also refer to them as “birthmarks” as no two diamonds have the same clarity characteristics.
Clarity Grading Explained
To grade a diamond for its clarity a number of features have to be determined. The size, quantity, relief, nature, and position of these clarity characteristics affect a diamond. A diamond's clarity ranges from Flawless (FL) to Included (I3) in the GIA grade scale. This scale is divided into six categories and eleven grades which have been structured after examining diamonds under 10x magnification for the purpose of grading and evaluation.
A Flawless diamond doesn’t have any internal characteristics (inclusions) or external characteristics (blemishes) when examined under 10x magnification by a skilled grader. These diamonds are extremely rare and sold at a premium price. It's important to take extra care with flawless diamonds - one scratch and the clarity grade will be knocked down to an IF.
A diamond that has no inclusions but has extremely small unnoticeable blemishes (usually polish lines). An IF diamond is also rare and these small tiny blemishes do not affect the brilliance or beauty of that diamond.
A VVS1 diamond has very tiny inclusions that are extremely minute, and often go unnoticed by many diamond professionals, even under 10x magnification. This clarity diamond has nearly the same appeal as a FL or an IF diamond but gives a better value.
This diamond again has very tiny inclusions like the VVS1 which are minute but they are to a small degree noticeable under 10x magnification by a diamond professional. This clarity grade gives best value for a diamond amongst the higher clarity grades.
Very minor inclusions that are still difficult to locate under 10x magnification. The inclusions in a VS1 diamond do not affect the brilliance and lustre of the diamond.
Very minor inclusions that are somewhat easy for a diamond professional to view under 10x magnification. The inclusions in a VS2 diamond are slightly larger and more in number than VS1.
These Inclusions in SI1 are noticeable and are easy to locate under 10x magnification by a diamond professional. Depending on the size of the stone, it may not be eye clean.
Inclusions that are noticeable and are very easy to locate under 10x magnification. Few inclusions could be visible to the naked eye without the aid of 10x magnification.
Included 1 (I1)
This clarity has obvious inclusions which are somewhat easy to locate without 10x magnification.
Included 2 (I2)
Clarity that has obvious inclusions and are easy to locate without 10x magnification. These inclusions affect the brilliance and lustre of the diamond. Also affects the durability of the stone.
Included 3 (I3)
Clarity that has obvious inclusions and are very easy to locate without 10x magnification. These inclusions again affect the brilliance and lustre of the diamond. Also affects the durability of the stone.