How Does Clarity Affect A Diamond? An Ultimate Guide

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With a few exceptions, every diamond has inclusions and blemishes. These are natural markings that occur during the formation of the stone. The number, size, position, nature, and color of these characteristics determine the clarity grade of a diamond.

This guide will discuss everything you need to know about diamond clarity, from the different types of inclusions and blemishes to the grades assigned by gemologists. We’ll also explain how clarity affects a diamond’s value and provide tips on choosing a stone with the right combination of clarity and other attributes for your needs.

What Are Inclusions and Blemishes?

Inclusions are internal flaws that occur while a diamond is forming deep underground. Blemishes are external marks that happen when a diamond is cut or polished. Together, these two factors are used to determine a stone’s clarity grade.

Most inclusions and blemishes are invisible to the naked eye, but they can be seen under 10x magnification. Inclusions can affect a diamond’s durability and how light travels through the stone, affecting its sparkle.

There are two types of inclusions: fractures and crystalline.

  • Fractures are tiny cracks that can occur on the surface or inside of a diamond. They can be caused by stress during the formation of the stone, damage during the cutting process, or even everyday wear and tear. Fractures typically don’t significantly impact a diamond’s value, but they can affect its clarity grade.
  • Crystalline inclusions are small minerals that become trapped inside a diamond as it forms underground. The most common type of crystalline inclusion is known as a “carbon spot.” These dark spots are usually not visible to the naked eye but can be seen under magnification.

Blemishes are external markings that occur on the surface of a diamond. They can be caused by damage during the cutting process, everyday wear and tear, or even just the natural environment in which the stone is found. Blemishes typically don’t significantly impact a diamond’s value, but they can affect its clarity grade.

The most common blemish is known as a “nick.” Nicks are tiny chips that can occur on the edges or facets of a diamond. They are usually not visible to the naked eye but can be seen under magnification.

How Is Clarity Graded?

Gemologists use a standardized system to grade the clarity of diamonds. The system is known as the “GIA Clarity Scale.”

The GIA Clarity Scale has 11 levels, from “Flawless” to “Included.” A diamond’s clarity grade is determined by its inclusions and blemishes’ number, size, position, nature, and color.

Here is a brief overview of the GIA Clarity Scale:

  • Flawless (FL): A diamond with no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless (IF): A diamond with no inclusions visible under 10x magnification and only very minor blemishes on the surface.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): A diamond with minor inclusions that are difficult to see under 10x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): A diamond with minor inclusions visible under 10x magnification but not easily seen by the naked eye.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): A diamond with inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification and can be seen by the naked eye.
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3): A diamond with inclusions that are visible to the naked eye and may affect the stone’s durability.

The GIA Clarity Scale is a good way to compare different diamonds, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t consider the size, position, or nature of a stone’s inclusions and blemishes.

For example, two diamonds may have the same clarity grade, but one may have larger or more numerous inclusions than the other. This can affect the appearance of the stone and its overall value.

How Does Clarity Affect A Diamond’s Value?

The higher the clarity grade of a diamond, the more valuable it is. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For example, a diamond with a flawless clarity rating may be less valuable than a diamond with a slightly included clarity rating if the inclusions in the latter stone are not visible to the naked eye.

Similarly, a diamond with an included clarity rating may be more valuable than a diamond with a flawless clarity rating if the inclusions in the former stone are very small or located in an inconspicuous place.

It’s also important to remember that a diamond’s value is not just based on its clarity grade. The stone’s carat weight, color, and cut are also important factors.

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