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Diamond Clarity

round brilliant diamond
All the disturbances occurring during this process of diamond formation eventually compose its clarity value.

Important to Know!

  • Clarity scale is graded with English letters IF – L3.
  • The clearest the diamond the more expensive it is.
  • There are many different types of inclusions that affect the diamond`s price and appearance.
  • The attitude of the Singapore market is to buy high clarity diamonds yet not the highest – better value for money.

Clarity grading in gemological certification

Diamond inclusions may come in many different shapes, locations, sizes, angles, etc. The inclusions are classified by amount, size and nature, which eventually sums-up to clarity grading. The clearer the diamond, the higher clarity grading it will get and the more expensive it will be. In any way the clarity evaluation is done under x10 magnification and might show smaller inclusions under higher magnification. The clearest diamond will be graded with “IF” (“FL” is the highest grade, but it is so rare it’s almost mythological and some jewelers don’t see these diamonds for their entire career). A diamond with the highest number of inclusions will be graded as I3. A Diamond with more inclusions than I3 won`t be sold as jewelry but instead be used for diamond blades in one industry or another. Either way diamonds graded I2 or I3 usually have distinct apparent inclusions and should be examined carefully or avoided all together… Certification scales may be deceiving for unprofessional customers, therefore all the following information is according to real certification and not according to the over grading that is becoming more and more common in the diamond market.

GIA clarity grading is explained below

Beforehand, knowing these definitions may be helpful: Lupa – x10 magnification glass. Foreign materials – entrapment of different materials inside a diamond during formation. Inclusions – imperfections of a diamond – internal scratches, non-homogenous areas. Gemologist – trained and certified professional in evaluation of diamonds. Diamond clarity scale: Flawless (FL) – diamond with no foreign material or inclusions noticeable by gemologist under x10 magnification. Internally flawless (IF) – diamond without noticeable foreign material found by gemologist under x10 magnification. Very very slightly included (VVS1-VVS2) – even a skilled gemologist will have a hard time spotting inclusions under x10 magnification, internally divided to sub-grades. Very slight included (VS1-VS2) – small inclusions that a trained gemologist will have a hard time spotting and inclusions which are a little bit easier to spot under x10 magnification, also internally divided to sub-grades. Slightly included (SI1-SI2) – trained gemologist will see the inclusions under x10 magnifications. It’s important to mention that among gemologist there is an additional grade called SI3 which is not used by GIA. Included (I1-I3) – the inclusions are fully apparent with Lupa and might affect the clarity and shine of the diamond. Attention, while using real evaluating or better GIA certification, most diamonds sold in Singapore are actually between VS1-SI1. Even if other accreditations grade them as vvs. We believe that the most important questions are – are the inclusion visible to the naked eye? does it affect the shine of the diamond? More important questions to ask while choosing your diamond:

Does the diamond look milky with low clarity?

Is the inclusion located at the center or periphery?

Is the inclusion black, white or any other color?

Are any of the inclusions sits in a spot were its mirrored through the whole diamond and, by that, affecting its look?

Practical advice for a wise selection of the right diamond:

See as many diamonds as possible. Compare them side by side. Evaluate the diamond using the naked eye, then with a Lupa, and again with the naked eye. Make sure that the environment is optimal for diamond evaluation – white fluorescent lighting. Ask specific questions about the inclusion. If you can’t find it, ask for instructions (location, deep or superficial, etc.). The lowest the gemological grading is, the greater your effort should be. Remember, diamond inclusions are a normal natural thing, as long as it does not affect the diamond appearance it’s not a bad thing – the diamond is cheaper and more affordable for an average budget. In addition, inclusions show that the diamond was produced naturally and not artificially…

Important emphasis – the difference between gemology and commercial trade.

One of the greater mistakes of private customers is to rely only on dry facts of the diamond certification. But we must remember that even if the lab is reliable, it is still has a gemological point of view and not a commercial one. Let us explain, take two different diamonds one with clarity of SI1 and a black inclusion in the middle of the surface area and the other diamond with a white inclusion at the periphery that can be hidden during inlay. It is possible that the white inclusion is bigger but in practice the white inclusion is a lot harder to spot and it is less likely to affect the appearance of the diamond. In the following image two such diamonds with a clarity of SI1 according to the American GIA Lab: Both of these diamonds will not be traded at the same price among suppliers but might be sold at the same price to an unprofessional private customer. This highlights again the  importance of personal inspection of the diamond rather than relying  only on the grading papers.

One step farther – diving deeper into the types of inclusions and their meaning

Bearding – visible inclusions like fine-hairs or bearding formed on the diamond’s girdle which is the line that connects between the body and head of the diamond. Those may be formed during unsuccessful polishing. Due to the fact that much of the sparkle of the diamond comes from light going through the girdle it is better to avoid diamonds with a considerable amount of bearding. Graining – these inclusions are defects in the structural crystal built of the diamond that occurred during incomplete formation. If in large numbers and located deep inside the diamond, they may cause a slight cloudy appearance. While they are located close to the surface they sometimes look like colorful stripes. Feather – This is a kind of internal crack that may look like a feather hence its name. This inclusion looks differently depends on the angle of light passing through it, at times it is invisible ant at times it looks white. Its advantage is that it is not very visible, but you must know, in extreme cases this inclusion can be problematic the diamond`s strength and wholeness according to its location. Crystals – many diamonds may trap other crystals during the many years of their formation. These crystals are made from different materials and different colors. For example, a diamond within a diamond seems white and a coal within a diamond seems black, etc. Obviously it is recommended to buy non-visible inclusions. Cavity – like while going to the dentist, diamonds may have cavities, actually those are relatively large openings created during the polishing process due to collapsing of other crystals that were embedded inside the diamond and close to the surface. Cloud – an accumulation of pinpoint inclusions found in bundles. It is important to beware of this inclusion because in specific locations or colors they have the capability to greatly affect the appearance of the diamond making it look completely milky. Therefore, although it doesn’t happen much, it is important to compare the diamond to other diamonds. Needle – inclusions that look like white or transparent needles or tiny bearding. Usually they are hard to spot, and they are hidden inside the diamond, but sometimes when they form close clusters they may affect the clarity of the diamond and its appearance. Pinpoints- tiny dots – like inclusions, black or white inside the diamond, the white ones are preferred without any question. Beware inclusions may be located in an area where they are more visible. Twinning wisps – other defects of the structural crystal built of the diamond due to a pause during the formation process that may last thousands of years. During the primary process some defects has risen, but the process was paused and later during the secondary process the defects branched in different directions. The appearance of the inclusion may differ but usually composed from several types. Chips – small fracture or openings on the diamond surface. Mostly due to incorrect inlay, or unprofessional polishing. Indented natural – inclusion which is actually a polishing error or a non-polished area –  it is an area of the diamond that is still crude.

How to match clarity to my budget?

IF-VS1 – suitable for high budget VS2-SI1 – suitable for strict clarity but with budget awareness SI2-I1 – if chosen correctly can show the best cost effectiveness.
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