Your Go-To Guide on Diamond Clarity Characteristics

Aug 30th 2021

Your Go-To Guide on Diamond Clarity Characteristics

Choosing a diamond engagement ring for your special someone can be overwhelming. There are many diamond shapes and ring styles. And of course, it needs to have plenty of sparkle. How do you make sure your ring shines big and bright? You’ll want to pay attention to the diamond’s clarity, and we’re here to help teach you the basics!

What is Diamond Clarity?

Diamond clarity refers to the purity of the stone. Since natural diamonds were formed under an enormous amount of pressure and heat billions of years ago, it’s extremely rare to find a flawless diamond. Most have imperfections, called blemishes and inclusions. So, diamonds with fewer imperfections will have better clarity.

Blemishes vs. Inclusions  

What’s the difference between a blemish and an inclusion? Blemishes are imperfections on the outside of the diamond, such as abrasions, scratches, polish lines and burn marks. Inclusions, on the other hand, developed when the diamond first formed and can be found inside of the stone. As one example, small crystals can sometimes become trapped inside of a diamond during its early stages of formation. As the crystals grow, there’s a chance they can develop irregularities in their atomic structure.

The size, location and number of blemishes and inclusions can significantly impact a diamond’s clarity. For more information on blemishes and inclusions, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) breaks down the various types of imperfections.

How is Diamond Clarity Graded?

Since many blemishes and inclusions aren’t visible to the naked eye, trained diamond graders follow the GIA Diamond Clarity Scale to give stones the following ratings:

  • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes can be seen under 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions can be seen under 10x magnification.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are so minor that they’re difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - With effort, inclusions can be seen under 10x magnification, but they’re typically characterized as minor.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification.
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and can affect the diamond’s transparency and brilliance.

If you’re unsure about your diamond’s clarity, check with your jeweler for GIA’s Diamond Grading Report, which contains information about your stone’s authenticity and quality. Each report features a plotting diagram that closely resembles the shape of your diamond and shows where blemishes and inclusions are located, like the below:

Check out the full GIA Report for this diamond

*Pro Tip: Blemishes and inclusions near the side facets (aka flat surfaces) of a diamond are less noticeable than those located in the center of the stone. Keep this in mind when ring shopping!

Have a question? We can help!

Gage Diamonds is Chicago's premier jewelry showroom and online retailer of engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry. We offer a selection of dazzling handpicked diamonds, including certified natural diamonds.

We’re committed to helping you find the ring of your dreams. For inspiration, browse our website or set up an appointment with a member of our trusted staff at our in-person showroom.

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