The “C” of clarity refers to a stone’s purity. Clarity is evaluated by viewing the stone under 10X magnification. Virtually all diamonds contain tiny natural birthmarks that are present to varying degrees. After all, nature is rarely perfect, and that extends to diamonds! These marks serve as the identifying “fingerprint” that makes every stone unique.
What is that speck?
These tiny identifying marks consist of “naturals” on the outside or inclusions on the inside of the stone. Inclusions refer to anything that is trapped within the diamond crystal. Nearly all diamonds, even those of the highest quality, have some inclusions, which fall into these categories:
Mineral inclusions: A dark spot from a trapped bit of mineral
Naturals: Open cavities interrupting the diamond surface that were a part of the original diamond crystal
Feathers: Internal cracks or fractures caused by either internal or external stress during the diamond’s formation.
How clarity is graded
While there are several grading systems used in the industry, the most recognized and commonly used system is the one developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
- FL Flawless: Shows no inclusions or blemishes of any sort under 10X magnification when examined by an experienced grader. Extremely rare.
- IF Internally Flawless: Has no inclusions when examined by an experienced grader using 10X magnification. Very rare.
- VVS1, VVS2 Very, Very Slightly Included: Contains minute inclusions that are difficult even for experienced graders to see under 10X magnification.
- VS1, VS2 Very Slightly Included: Contains minor inclusions ranging from difficult to somewhat easy to see for an experienced grader when examined under 10X magnification.
- SI1, SI2 Slightly Included: Contains inclusions that are easy to very easy to see for an experienced grader under 10X magnification. Some inclusions may be visible to the unaided eye.
- I1 Included: Contains obvious inclusions visible to an experienced grader under 10X magnification; can be visible without magnification.
- I2, I3 Included: Contains obvious inclusions. Visible without magnification.
The effect of positioning
As a rule, the less visible the location of the inclusion, the less impact on the stone’s value.