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Diamond Clarity

Clarity in a diamond refers to the absence of any blemishes or fractures that the diamond may feature. In most cases, these marks or defects are not visible to the naked eye. However, sometimes when larger black spots are present they may be visible even without the help of a loupe. The value of such diamonds is significantly lower than those that are of better clarity.

Internal And External Defects

Diamond clarity looks at two types of defects.

  1. Internal defects: Are those that are inside the diamond. These are commonly called inclusions.
  2. External defects: Are those that occur on the surface of the diamond. These are commonly called blemishes.

These defects generally occur in diamonds in the natural process of formation. However, sometimes defects may also occur during the cutting and polishing stage.

Diamonds are created under immense pressure and it is thus hardly surprising that many diamonds include tiny bubbles, spots, scratches and blemishes. However, one does find flawless diamonds very rarely. These diamonds are extremely expensive not only because they are rare but also because they are completely faultless.

Clarity And Brilliance

Another reason why diamonds with a good clarity grade are prized is because better clarity results in more brilliance. The presence of inclusions and blemishes can alter the path of the light entering the diamond. So even with the highest cut grade, a diamond with an inclusion may not be able to reflect back much of the light that enters the stone. This results in lowered brilliance and hence the lower value of diamond with defects.

Grading Diamond Clarity

Diamonds are graded for clarity using a loupe. A loupe is a magnifying glass that magnifies the diamond 10 times of its original size. Under a loupe a trained eye can easily detect the presence of internal and external defects. Even novices can detect the presence of flaws fairly easily using a loupe.

The GIA and the AGS have an extensive set of rules for defining the clarity grade of the diamond including listing out the exact type, size and location of the defect. Diamond clarity grades range from Flawless to Included.

flawlessFlawless & Internally Flawless:
Flawless diamonds have no internal inclusions and no external blemishes either – even under 10x magnification. These are extremely rare and exquisite. Internally flawless diamonds have no internal inclusions but may have minor or negligible external blemishes. These are very rare too and beautiful.
GIA Grade: FL & IF
AGS Grade: 0
vvSlightlyIncludedVery Very Slightly Included:
These diamonds contain very miniscule inclusions that are difficult to spot under 10x magnification even for an experienced trader. There are two grades of VVS diamonds.
GIA Grade: VVS1 & VVS2
AGS Grade: 1 - 2
vSlightlyIncludedVery Slightly Included:
These diamonds contain miniscule inclusions that are not easily noticed with a loupe. To the novice buyer there will be no noticeable difference between VVS and VS diamonds. Inclusions cannot be viewed without a loupe. There are two grades of VS diamonds.
GIA Grade: VS1 & VS2
AGS Grade: 3 – 4
SlightlyIncludedSlightly Included:
The inclusions are easily viewed using a loupe and in some cases may even be visible to the trained naked eye. These diamonds offer a good value because often the inclusions can be hidden in the setting. There are two grades of S diamonds.
GIA Grade: S1 & S2
AGS Grade: 5 – 6
These diamonds contain inclusions that are definitely visible to the naked trained eye. Even a novice can easily view the inclusions if he or she looks closely. Most high quality diamond traders prefer not to trade with I quality diamonds. There are three grades of I diamonds.
GIA Grade: I1, I2 & I3
AGS Grade: 7 – 8 – 9

In general, when buying diamonds it is best to go for diamonds that are ‘eye-clean’. This means that even if the diamonds have minor defects they should be so minor as to be invisible to the naked eye. Diamonds with a clarity grade of S1 and S2 generally fall under this category.

Also, there are three other C’s that affect the quality and price of a diamond: its Carat Weight, Cut and Color.

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