Diamond Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Diamond Clarity

Hand Holding Up Diamond Engagement Ring and Matching Wedding Band

Selecting a diamond is often a precursor to one of the most exciting, memorable, and important times in your life. A diamond can represent the deep love between two people or act as a symbol and celebration of the commitment and dedication a relationship has had through the test of time. Whether you’re searching for a beautiful diamond wedding band or treating yourself to some bling, understanding the way a gemstone is graded is essential.

One of the main factors to consider when selecting your dazzling diamond is diamond clarity. But what is that? And how can it affect your decision? Let us help you learn all there is to know about the clarity of diamonds so you can make your most educated diamond selection.

What is Diamond Clarity?

The Studio Collection Round Center Diamond with Diamond Gallery and Shank Engagement Ring

The clarity of a diamond refers to how flawless a diamond is. Diamond clarity is one aspect used to determine the quality of a diamond. The other factors are cut, color, and carat weight, otherwise known as the 4C’s of diamonds.

How is Diamond Clarity Judged?

The clarity of a diamond is determined by the size, number, and appearance of inclusions and blemishes in a diamond. When an expert examines a diamond, they first look at the stone’s overall look in order to get a general idea of grading. Then, they narrow down to the specific quantity and type of clarity issues before giving it a rating and allowing it to be used in designs like pretty diamond earrings jackets.

Why Does Diamond Clarity Matter?

It is important to remember that no two diamonds are alike, and due to the natural formation process of diamonds, most have some type of flaw or distinct characteristics. While clarity is one of the factors to consider when selecting a diamond, most imperfections that affect the clarity of a diamond are not visible to the naked eye and may not make a difference in the overall look of a piece.

Each diamond is unique, and inclusions or blemishes can add to the one-of-a-kind diamond you are looking for. In many instances, these “flaws” can also be seen as appealing features and distinguishing characteristics that help your diamond truly be just for you. These imperfections can also help identify your diamond should it ever be lost or stolen, as most flaws are noted on diamond grading reports.

The clarity of a diamond can play an important role in a diamond’s appearance and value, especially if the diamond is a larger size, as flaws can be larger or more noticeable in a larger diamond. When you go to pair your new diamond accessories with your favorite sapphire colored jewelry, you want every piece to have the beautiful clarity it deserves.

    What is the Clarity Scale for Diamonds?

    The Studio Collection Trellis Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

    The GIA is the most well-established and used guide for diamond clarity and diamond grade. Most diamonds have some type of imperfection, but many are not visible to the naked eye. The type of characteristics of the flaws determines where the diamond lands on the diamond’s clarity scale and what its diamond grade is. 

    Clarity Scale for Diamonds

    Before a designer can use it, a diamond must be graded on the clarity scale. Whether you’re buying a matching diamond jewelry set or a pair of diamond and pearl dangle earrings, each stone has one of these ratings:

    FL (Flawless) – No internal or external flaws. These diamonds are rare and valuable.

    IF (Internally Flawless) – No internal flaws but some surface flaws. These diamonds are still very rare and valuable.

    VVS1, VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included) – Minor internal flaws, which are difficult to see even when using 10x magnification.

    VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included) – Minor internal flaws barely visible with 10x magnification. The naked eye cannot detect these flaws.

    SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included) – Some internal flaws that are visible with 10x magnification and may also be visible to the naked eye.

    I1, I2, I3 (Included) – Flaws typically affect transparency and brilliance in these diamonds. Less desired.

    What is the Difference Between Inclusions and Blemishes?

    The Studio Collection Oval Center Diamond with Side Diamond Accents Engagement Ring

    Although the two terms are often used in tandem, they refer to two different diamond grading factors. Inclusions are flaws in the diamond itself, and blemishes are imperfections on the surface of the diamond. Both are taken into consideration when grading a diamond for jewelry designs.

    7 Types of Diamond Inclusions

    1. Feather: a crack created during the diamonds formation, known for affecting durability and stability.
    2. Pinpoint: a small mineral crystal formed within the diamond that looks like a tiny dot.
    3. Crystal: crystallization forms within the diamond, clouding the overall look of the stone.
    4. Needle: aptly named, a long, thin crystal forms across the diamond, blocking the overall clarity.
    5. Cloud: a cloud inclusion is the grouping of multiple pinpoints, creating an overall hazy appearance.
    6. Twinning wisp: these appear as a group of either feathers, pinpoints, crystals, or clouds, as a result of a diamond stopping and starting its formation.
    7. Knot: a small, white, or clear crystal that is present just below the surface of a diamond which can sometimes resemble a raised area on the facet’s surface.

    7 Types of Diamond Blemishes

    There are seven different types of blemishes that are found on the surface of diamonds:

    1. Polish lines: tiny lines and ridges that are formed by a diamond polishing wheel.
    2. Scratches: thin but shallow scratches that appear on the surface.
    3. Nicks: a small area where an impact has caused a small part of the diamond to break away.
    4. Pits: a small cavity on a polished diamond that appears like a white dot.
    5. Chips: multiple small pieces of the diamond have broken away, typically the result of wear and tear.
    6. Breaks: a fully cracked or broken stone, typically resulting from poor diamond cuts, compromised ring settings, or everyday damage.
    7. Dark or light spots: often called carbon spots, these blemishes can be lighter or darker than the diamond color, occurring due to carbon not fully crystallizing in the diamond.

    Does Clarity Affect Diamond Price?

    14K White Gold Diamond Earring Jackets

    Clarity is one of the most important determinants for diamond pricing. Once graded, the price should correspond directly to the number of flaws that are visible under magnification. The more flawless a diamond, the more expensive it gets.

    For instance, picture two diamonds that have the exact same cut, color, and carat weight. Even with everything else being identical, if one is graded Internally Flawless and the other is rated Slightly Included, there will be a significant price difference, but this doesn’t mean that the lower graded diamond is useless—there are diamond jewelry designs available at all price points!

    Can the Human Eye Determine Diamond Clarity? 

    Even if you boast perfect 20/20 vision, you will not be able to see any inclusions and blemishes with the human eye alone. In order to accurately take note of each imperfection, the gemstone must be examined under 10X magnification.

    What is an Eye Clean Diamond?

    An eye clean diamond is any stone graded between VVS1 and SI2. In these cases, although the gemstone does have inclusions or blemishes, the differences in clarity aren’t overtly noticeable. Because these imperfections can only be seen under professional magnification, you can invest in a stunning diamond with a lower grade that looks beautiful at a glance for a lower cost.

    5 Variables Affecting Diamond Clarity

    Every diamond in a design, from a pear cut diamond engagement ring to a modern white gold clover station diamond bracelet has had the clarity examined. There are five main variables used to determine a clarity grade:

    1. The Number of Flaws

    Platinum Pear Diamond Split Shank Engagement Ring

    If there are a number of flaws in the diamond, especially if they are visible, this will affect its diamond clarity and diamond grade. But remember, many flaws cannot be detected under magnification or the naked eye.

    2. The Location on Stone

    The location of an imperfection is important, as its position can affect how visible it may be. Even the smallest blemish can make a world of difference in grading if it is in an inopportune spot.

    If it is under the diamond table, these flaws are often more visible, which can have a bigger impact on the diamond’s overall clarity. Inclusions further away from the table are often more difficult to see, but if they reach the surface, the stone could be unstable. The pavilion facet can act as a mirror, so any imperfection near it can be reflected around the gemstone.

    3. The Size of Stone and Imperfections

    Fink's Exclusive Emerald Cut Engagement Ring with Baguette Side Diamonds

    In general, larger flaws have a large impact on the clarity grade. Certain inclusions that erupt within the diamond can affect the durability of the stone, leading to damage or breakage down the line. The largest blemishes and inclusions are often called the “grade setters,” as they can be the deciding factor between two similar grades.

    As noted previously, larger diamonds can have more sizable imperfections or be more noticeable. Larger diamonds have more facets, which can sometimes make imperfections more evident. If you are selecting a larger diamond for an emerald cut engagement ring with baguettes or other special occasion, it is a good idea to focus on higher clarity scale for diamonds.

    4. The Relief of Flaws

    In the world of diamonds, relief refers to how easily a flaw or imperfection can be seen. This is judged by the contrast between that characteristic and the rest of the diamond. The higher the relief, the darker the imperfection may appear in contrast to the surrounding diamond, often resulting in a lower clarity grade.

    5. The Nature of an Imperfection 

    The nature of a diamond imperfection describes both the type of inclusion or blemish a stone has as well as how deep they are in the diamond. It also refers to how the inclusion may affect a diamond’s durability, like in a pink diamond cushion cut ring.

    What Are the Best Diamond Shapes for Diamond Clarity?

    Yellow Gold Round Diamond and Pearl Dangle Earrings

    As you are perusing the jewelry cases to find your ideal diamond, it is helpful to know what diamond shapes and cuts bring out the best clarity of a diamond. Trustworthy jewelers will know which cuts are best for diamonds with blemishes or imperfections, but it’s always a good idea to have your own understanding of what you’re interested in before you buy.

    Flaws can be more visible in fancy-shaped diamonds or higher-carat stones. If the lovely lady in your life has her heart set on a diamond that is over one carat or is obsessed with an emerald or Asscher cut stone, it’s a good idea to invest in a diamond with a higher clarity grade so she can achieve the look she desires without easy-to-spot imperfections of blemishes. 

    But just because a diamond is rated lower with more imperfections doesn’t mean it’s unusable! If sticking to an under $3,000 engagement ring budget is the priority, diamonds with many facets, like round, cushion, and oval cuts, are excellent choices for rings and necklaces. These multi-faceted diamond cuts are very efficient at hiding any imperfections in lower diamond grades.

    Fink’s Diamond Clarity

    White Gold Pink Tourmaline and Diamond Split Shank Ring

    Whether you’re shopping online or stopping into a store, Fink’s is transparent about the grade of each stone. We are proud to offer superior quality diamonds at every price point, but our standards are next to none. Our stores only offer diamonds that have no inclusions visible to the naked eye.

    There’s something for everyone within Fink’s diamond jewelry collection. While other stores do use lower grade diamonds as discount styles, we strive for the best in every design. Our engagement rings are always SI2 or better or I1 or better for diamond stud earrings.

    Our experts at Fink’s Jewelers are always happy to walk you through all there is to know about diamonds and the clarity scale for diamonds. We know how important and meaningful selecting the perfect stone is. Now that you’ve educated yourself on diamond clarity, stop by one of our locations and find the best diamond jewelry gift!