Diamond Clarity Grade

Written by Jason on .

One of the 4Cs, second in importance after Cut, diamond clarity refers to the degree to which a diamond is free from inclusions. Inclusions, for those just starting out, are naturally occurring imperfections found within diamonds. In a lab, diamonds are evaluated for clarity and given a ‘clarity grade’ based on the presence, size, and location of these inclusions. Those same properties also influence diamond prices so as a general rule of thumb, the higher the clarity grade the higher the price.

Our Money Saving Tips and Recommendations:

  • The cost of a diamond rises considerably as you move towards the flawless end of the spectrum. This is due to the rarity of flawless diamonds in nature. Inclusions are part of the natural formation process of a diamond.
  • For the best use of budget, start your search to cover the lower end of ‘Very Slightly Included’ and ‘Slightly Included’ (i.e. VS2, SI1, SI2). Move up clarity grades if needed.
  • Consider something that is “clean” to the naked eye. This means that no noticeable inclusions can be seen. See our eye clean guide for more tips.
  • Never purchase a I1 / I2 / I3 stone as those are unsightly and a poor use of budget.
  • If budget is a large concern, keep in mind that a slight outer inclusion can be hidden by the claw of the setting itself once the diamond is put in the setting

The Different Clarity Grades of Diamonds

Diamond clarity grades range from Flawless, Internally Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included, Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included and Included. Within each of these ranges, additional grading exists to help identify if a diamond is on the high side of the range or the low side. For example, consider a Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) stone. Within the VVS range, diamonds can be given a grade of either VVS1 or VVS2, the better of the two being VVS1. To the untrained eye of a consumer, there’s no real difference. But to a trained gemologist viewing the stone under magnification, the inclusions in the VVS1 will be less apparently and hence the superior grade.

The figure below gives a good visual representation of the different clarity grades.
diamond clarity, flawless, if, vvs1, vvs2, vs1, vs2, si1, si2, inclusions

Already Have a Clarity Grade in Mind?

Although you may already have a clarity grading in mind, consider exploring diamonds from each clarity grade before selecting your final diamond. This will help you get familiar with the various types of inclusions, their positions, and how it impacts the overall diamond. What you may find is that although you are targeting a VVS1 clarity grade, you will not notice any difference when compared against a VS1 clarity grade, and therefore have an opportunity to go with the lower clarity grade and save money.

These photos of real diamonds will give you a sense of what to expect for each clarity grade. Notice the presence of inclusions towards the lower clarity grades. Clicking on the image will bring up the actual stone.

Diamond Clarity Grade FLClarity Grade: FL
Diamond Clarity Grade IFClarity Grade: IF
Diamond Clarity Grade VVS2Clarity Grade: VVS2

Diamond Clarity Grade VS2Clarity Grade: VS2
Diamond Clarity Grade SI1Clarity Grade: SI1
Diamond Clarity Grade SI2Clarity Grade: SI2

Not All Inclusions are Created Equally

No two diamonds are alike. The same can be said for inclusions. Two diamonds within the same clarity grade (i.e. SI1 – Slightly Included) can still look drastically different thanks in part to the different nature of inclusions each may possess. Take a moment to explore your preferred online diamond retailer and see how even within a clarity grade how diverse diamonds.
[insert matrix of images]

Eye Clean SI2 Diamond
Eye Clean SI2 from James Allen
Non Eye Clean SI2 Diamond
Non-Eye Clean SI2 from James Allen
Tip: Both stones are SI2. However, the diamond on the left has far less visible inclusions making it a smart buy!

Diamond Clarity and the Importance of real diamond images and 360 videos

Diamonds garner a lot of attention so it’s important to make sure it looks great from every angle. Diamond retailers have made this incredible easy by offering high resolution images of actual diamonds and, more importantly, 360 degree views of in-house diamonds. These tools are extremely valuable for shoppers by enabling you to inspect your diamond from every angle and evaluate the degree of clarity. Inclusions which might go unseen in a diamond image are brought to light when viewed in 360.
example about side view inclusion

Side view of inclusionStandard Diamond Image
From this head on angle, there do not appear to be any inclusions
Side view of inclusionSame Diamond, Different Angle
The 360 view enables the inclusion to be seen after a slight rotation.

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