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Clarity of a Diamond

A diamond is formed under natural conditions. Yes, now we have the possibility of going for lab grown diamonds but when you are choosing a natural diamond you always have to look into the clarity aspect of it. 

Natural diamonds are formed deep inside the earth as a result of  the carbon inside these gems exposed to tremendous heat and pressure. Since so many internal processes happen during the formation of a diamond, a diamond undergoes several changes. These internal changes might result in what we call as inclusions and blemishes.  

This is why you need to look into the diamond clarity before choosing a diamond. In most cases, the inclusions and blemishes will be invisible to the naked eye. But this does not mean that the diamond is completely devoid of inclusions. Taking a look at the diamond clarity chart or diamond clarity scale will give you a good picture of the quality of that particular diamond.

The Diamond clarity scale

When considering the diamond certification, the GIA considers factors such as the number, size, nature and position of these characteristics to give the diamond it’s appropriate diamond clarity grading. In some cases, it is also possible that the inclusions affect the overall appearance of the stone. The GIA considers all these factors before determining the right diamond clarity. 

Standard diamond clarity chart has been set by GIA so that the customer only needs to look into this chart before selecting the appropriate diamond clarity. Upon looking into the diamond clarity scale you will get a greater understanding of how diamonds are classified based on their clarity.

1. Flawless (FL)

If you find an FL tag under the diamond clarity scale of a diamond,  then you have found an extremely rare and exquisite piece.  Diamonds with clarity scale FL are those diamonds that have no inclusions or blemishes on its surfaces.  These are types of diamonds that often come in small sizes and shapes. You don’t have to bother about taking a microscope to magnify and see the blemishes in these diamonds. They are so perfect and so well crafted and naturally produced.

2. Internally flawless (IF)

An internally flawless diamond is absolutely devoid of inclusions. It may only slightly possess very minute and undetectable blemishes on its surfaces. These diamonds are second to next when it comes to the diamond clarity scale. Diamonds possessing the IF tag render maximum sparkle and brilliance as their blemishes do not affect its performance. Only a skilled grader can detect the imperfections in these types of diamonds, given the fact that he/she zooms the microscope up to 10x magnification.

3. Very very slightly included 1 (VVS1)

If you are looking to go for a quality diamond with distinguishable diamond clarity features, then you can always look for the VVS1 diamond which exhibits very minute inclusions that are invisible to the naked eye. These diamonds which come third in ranking in the diamond clarity chart, render the same brilliance and appeal of a diamond that has an FL or an IF tag. The inclusions in VVS1 diamonds often tend to be of the  centre. These diamonds offer a strong class of shine and brilliance and qualitatively raise the value of a diamond. Only a professional Diamond expert will be able to view these blemishes under 10x magnification. 

4. Very very slightly included 2 (VVS2)

When compared to the VVS1 diamonds, a VVS2 has more internal inclusions. But as mentioned before, these inclusions are so small that they only appear under 10x magnification. If you’ve got a diamond of this clarity scale, you don’t have to look for an alternative. It’s because these types of diamonds don’t compromise with the quality of the shine of a diamond or its brilliance. The common VVS2 inclusions that you will find our feather, natural, pinpoint and cloud. 

5. Very slightly included 1 (VS1)

You might have heard of the term eye-clean diamonds. Well, all those diamonds of the diamond clarity chart that we discussed until now are eye-clean. VS1 diamonds are also eye-clean diamonds. The only difference is that it starts to show minor inclusions under magnification. According to the diamond shapes and types of diamonds, vs1 diamond will render the appropriate sparkle and brilliance. You can always compromise with prize by going for a VS1 diamond that gives you a quality bet as well. 

6. Very slightly included 2 (VS2)

VS2 diamonds showcase minor inclusions that are slightly larger than VS1 when viewed under the microscope. This diamond is also popular along with the VS one diamond, given the fact that you can use your budget for other compromising factors such as cut or carat.  Diamonds of this diamond clarity scale render optimum sparkle and brilliance, according to the size, type, and number of inclusions. The common inclusions in these types are feather, indented natural, crystal and twinning wisp. 

7. Slightly included 1 (SI1) 

This is where things become interesting.  Now you may feel that the diamond clarity will become poor as we have travelled a lot through the diamond clarity chart. The truth is, an SI1 diamond will still render great brilliance and shine. It depends on the diamond shape and types of diamonds. An SI1 diamond will have inclusions that can be seen only under magnification. But there are cases where the inclusions might be visible because of the way in which the diamond is cut. 

When you are considering buying an SI1 diamond in order to compromise for the other factors of diamond, look out for diamonds that have single inclusion rather than ones with more inclusions. They offer a better visual appeal. Also look out for those diamonds in this clarity grading that have inclusions which are off centre and closer to the girdle of the diamond. 

Avoid those diamonds that have single crystal or cloud inclusions which can render an unlikely cloudiness in the overall look of your diamond. You can always go for an SI1 diamond to compromise for your budget but look out for these conditions.

8. Slightly included 2 (SI2)

This is where the clarity of a diamond comes into question. You might find inclusions and blemishes on the surfaces of diamonds which are labelled as SI2. In spite of this, they offer optimum brilliance and sparkle and do not hinder with the quality performance of the diamond. As suggested before, look out for single inclusions when considering to buy SI2 diamonds. Also avoid inclusions that are cloud based or large. 

9. Included (I)

Diamonds having the included clarity certification have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye.  Although these diamonds exhibit the right sparkle and brilliance, these diamonds feature inclusions that can be seen when tilted at certain angles. Depending on the location and size of the inclusions, the sparkle and overall look of the diamond will come into the question.  That being said, sacrificing your budget for an I1 clarity Diamond that offers optimum brilliance, gives you the chance to upgrade the cut, color, and carat.

Large crystals, feathers, clouds, and knots are the common I1 inclusions that you will find in these diamond clarity scales.  However as the grading goes further down to I2 and i3 diamonds,  the inclusions really start to become a botheration. They can affect the overall beauty and sparkle of a diamond and are not recommended. 

Make it a point to understand your I1 diamond thoroughly if you fixate your mind to buy a diamond of this diamond clarity chart.  Make sure that the inclusions don’t make the diamond look odd, as a result affecting the diamonds quality and performance. 

Types of inclusions

Now as we’ve looked into the diamond clarity chart, let’s take a look at the different types of inclusions that appear on the surface of a diamond.  according to the type and location of inclusion,  a diamond may result in more or less sparkle.  it also affects the overall appearance of a diamond. 

Feather: This type of inclusion is as its name suggests. The inclusion appears to be the shape of a feather when viewed from a right angle. It is an internal intrusion and in almost all cases extends to the surface. Depending on the size and location of the weather,  the overall beauty of a diamond gets affected. Hairline feathers that are shallow fractures in the surface of a diamond do not affect the appearance of a diamond. Only make sure that there are no use feathers in the diamond’s surface. This can impact the quality and sparkle.

Crystal: Another characteristic inclusion which determines the overall appearance of your diamond is the crystal inclusion. Crystals namely, white and black color, appear in your diamond depending on the way in which they were formed. So if the diamond has black crystals it can affect the appearance of a diamond. Thus makes sure your diamond is devoid of any unwanted crystals. 

Cloud: This is a very interesting type of inclusion. When you see the label cloud under the diamond clarity scale, understand that these diamonds possess a small region in them called a cloud. It is a group of tiny pin points in a small portion of the diamond that gives a cloud-like hazy appearance. You don’t have to bother if it’s only a small cloud. But a cloud of bigger size can cause the diamond sparkle to reduce, affecting the beauty of the diamond. 

Pinpoint: As the name suggests, a pinpoint is a small type of crystal inclusion that resembles a tiny dot. It only comes into view when magnified under 10x magnification. They won’t qualitatively affect the beauty or appearance of your diamond, unless there are a large number of pinpoints scattered in an uninteresting manner.

Natural: An interesting aspect of a diamond’s clarity is the appearance of a natural. A natural is a sort of a manufacturing detail that remains on the diamond after the diamond cutting process. Almost always naturals are located on or near diamond’s girdle but they can also be detected along the crown.

Indented Natural: This form of inclusion varies from the natural. They are deliberately left during the manufacturing process in order to compensate for the diamond weight. These inclusions protrude inwards and are typically found near the girdles of Diamonds

Needle: This type of inclusion resembles the shape of a needle.  According to the diamond shapes and types of diamonds, the presence of a needle or group of needles can hamper the clarity of the diamond. It is also got to do with the location and arrangement of these needles. As they are typically transparent, they do not affect the beauty, only accounting for the perfection of the diamond.

Knot: A knot is a crystal inclusion that extends all the way to the surface of a diamond. These inclusions are not preferable as often they are visible even without magnification and hamper the appearance of a diamond. 

Chip: Unlike all other natural types of inclusion, a chip is caused by wear and tear. It occurs as a result of manmade negligence during the diamond cutting process. Any form of a small break or line on the diamond surface can come under the label of chip. This can occur at the edges of a diamond or also on the facets. 

Cavity: It is an opening that is created when a diamond is being cut. It occurs as a result of an internal inclusion being breached or dislodged from the diamond. According to the type of inclusion, the larger or deeper the cavity. 

Twinning Wisp: Twinning wisp does not always occur in a diamond. It’s only when the environmental conditions are a bit different, they start forming in a diamond. It is basically a series of pinpoints, crystals, or clouds that occasionally feature a strong marking on a diamond’s plot. According to the location and types of these twinning wisps, a diamonds overall appearance will be affected. But if it is well maintained, then it won’t be a problem.

Internal Graining: This is the presence of white or colored lines inside a diamond. These graining lines cannot  be polished and hidden away from the viewers when seen under a microscope. These lines come to view under 10x magnification.  Internal graining lines result due to uneven crystal growth within the diamond. 

Surface Graining: Unlike internal graining which occurs in the inside of a diamond, surface graining occurs on the surface of a  diamond. These transparent lines are caused due to the crystal irregularities. 
Etched Channel: If you see an etched channel in a diamond, it means that inclusion was formed when the diamond was coming up to the surface of the earth.  It resembles the shape of a narrow and small tunnel that appears along the surface of the diamond and goes all the way to its body.