Of the Four Cs, clarity is the easiest to understand and generally has the least impact on a diamond’s appearance. Clarity refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds. These are usually called “inclusions” when internal and blemishes when external. Diamonds with the fewest and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades. Because these imperfections tend to be microscopic, as a rule they do not affect a diamond’s beauty or appearance. These clarity grades are determined under 10X microscopic power.
The Grading System
FL – Flawless, no inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10X magnification.
IF – Internally flawless, no inclusions visible under 10X magnification.
VVS-1 – Very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
VVS-2 – Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
VS-1 – Very slightly included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, and they are characterized as minor.
VS-2 – see definition above
SI-1 – Slightly included, inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification. Most SI-1 grade stones are eye clean and no inclusions are visible without magnification.
SI-2 – Slightly included but more so than SI-1 stones. Many SI-2 clarity stones are eye clean and no inclusions are visible without magnification.
I-1 – Usually an I-1 clarity diamond has one or more inclusions that are visible without magnification. There is quite a difference though between an I-1 stone with a difficult to see white inclusion and another that may have an easily seen black inclusion.
I-2 – Very included with easily seen inclusions visible without magnification.
I-3 – Very, very included with lots of visible inclusions easily seen without magnification.
Note: I-1, I-2, and I-3 clarity stones have inclusions that are obvious under 10x magnification and sometimes transparency and brilliance are affected. I have never personally used a diamond with I-2 or I-3 clarity in any piece of jewelry. Often times, when budgets are very limited, a well-cut, white, top of the line I-1 clarity stone can solve a financial problem and not sacrifice the beauty or “fire.” Sometimes the inclusion or inclusions that are visible are just barely so. There’s a big difference between a diamond with a white inclusion on the outer edge and a diamond with a dark inclusion in the center. There are very pretty, nearly eye clean, I-1 clarity stones that save considerable money. In addition, there are clarity-enhanced stones, laser drilled stones, etc. These make for various ways to save money without sacrificing beauty if the budget is tight. More information on request.