Clarity refers to the degree from which a diamond is free from inclusions. These inclusions or impurities can exist inside or on the surface of the diamond.
How Clarity Grades Are Assigned
Diamonds are assigned clarity grades based on what can be detected at a standard 10x magnification. This magnification is identical to what you will see when using a jewelers loupe (most jewelers will offer you a 10x loupe). The larger and more frequent an inclusion or inclusions appears within the diamond, the lower its clarity grading.
Clarity grading ranges from ‘FLAWLESS’ and ‘INTERNALLY FLAWLESS’ to various degrees of ‘INCLUDED’. The figure below gives a good visual representation of the different clarity grades.
Although you may already have a clarity grading in mind, consider asking your jeweler to see a diamond from each of the gradings. This will help you identify the various types of inclusions and their position, and how it impacts the overall diamond. What you may find is that although you are targeting a VVS1 clarity grade, you may not notice any difference between that and a VS1 clarity grade, and therefore have an opportunity to go with the lower clarity grade and save money.
No two diamonds are alike. Each diamond will poses its own unique set of inclusions and placement of inclusions. Hence, within a grading class, the range of inclusion may differ considerably. Never rule out a diamond just because it’s in the same clarity grade as the one you’re looking at.
What Clarity Grade Should I Choose?
Although your girlfriend may want a “Flawless” diamond, reality (and finances) needs to come into play. When considering clarity grade, take into account the following:
- The cost of a diamond rises considerably as you move towards the flawless end of the spectrum. This is because of the rarity of flawless diamonds in nature. Inclusions are part of the natural formation process of a diamond.
- Consider something that is “clean” to the naked eye. This means that no noticeable inclusions can be seen.
- If budget is a large concern, keep in mind that a slight inclusion can be hidden by the claw of the setting itself once the diamond is put in the setting
- Select something in the upper range of ‘very slightly included’. Chances are your fiancé-to-be friends don’t carry 10x magnifying loupes with them and the average shopper will not be able to distinguish between a VS1 or VS2 and a VVS1 or VVS2 using a 10x loupe, let alone the naked eye