When it comes to grades, we often assume that the highest grading is the best. This is true to a certain extent when it comes to diamond clarity grading, but is not always the case. Diamonds are graded by GIA from Flawless all the way down to Included (meaning there are inclusions in the diamond), and it can be easy to get hung up on the official diamond clarity grading.
However, what is most important is actually the eye-cleanliness of a diamond – how clean and flawless a diamond looks to the naked eye. On higher grades such as Flawless or Very Very Slightly Included, the imperfections cannot be seen by the naked eye. On slightly lower grades like Very Slightly Included or Slightly Included, imperfections can be seen with the naked eye, but it does not take into the account the location of the imperfections and how it affects the internal reflection of a diamonds.
This means that it is possible to find a diamond that is Slightly Included, but still sparkle with fire and brilliance as well as a Flawless diamond. One simply has to search hard enough and find a diamond with its imperfections in places that are well hidden from the naked eye.This allows you to get an amazingly beautiful diamond while getting a diamond at a much lower cost.
The search for a diamond that fits this kind of description is the real challenge, and often stumps new diamond buyers. This is because you will need to inspect a diamond by eye, one by one. Only two online retailers allow you to browse their inventory with high definition view of their diamonds, James Allen and Blue Nile.
If you need help looking for a diamond that suits your budget, but yet looks eye-clean, we at BuyDiamond are here to help! Simply drop us a message and we will get back to you with our expert recommendations!
What is Diamond Clarity?
A diamond’s clarity is a measure of flaws, or rather, lack of flaws within the diamond itself. Since a natural diamond is mined out of the ground, where it was formed over countless years of natural pressure exerted upon carbon, most natural diamonds will contain some inclusions or blemishes within the diamond or upon its surface. These flaws and imperfections, while minute and often invisible to the naked eye, will affect and oftentimes hamper the reflection of light within the gemstone, causing it to shine less brilliantly or making it less aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
A diamond’s clarity grading refers to the lack of flaws in the diamond – the higher the grade, the less flaws can be seen or detected by gemologists. These kinds of imperfections are very tiny, and often require a trained gemologist to suss them out.
The Gemological Institute of America (or GIA for short) is the most trusted and renowned institution that grades diamonds and other rare gemstones. As it is an independent entity, you can rest assured that grading certificates issued by this institution is accurate and objective. Be sure to be wary of other forms of grading, as they may have been compromised due to being a retailer’s in-house grading system, or they may have been financially incentivised to give higher ratings.
The GIA grades a diamond’s clarity using this scale:
- Flawless (FL)
- Internally Flawless (IF)
- Very Very Slightly Included 1 & 2 (VVS1, VVS2)
- Very Slightly Included 1 & 2 (VS1, VS2)
- Slightly Included 1 & 2 (SI1, SI2)
- Included 1 – 3 (I1, I2, I3)
We will be viewing examples from JamesAllen.com to compare the clarity of diamonds, as they have the best diamond viewer on the market.
A diamond that is flawless (FL) is the highest clarity grade a diamond can achieve. A diamond of this clarity grading has absolutely zero inclusions or flaws inside and outside of the diamond. They are also extremely rare, therefore making them extremely expensive. Unless you really have the money to burn, it usually isn’t worth it to get a flawless diamond.
Internally Flawless (IF)
A diamond that is internally flawless (IF) is differentiated from a flawless diamond only by its external polish, and therefore, with the right amount of work done on it, an internally flawless diamond can be upgraded to a flawless diamond! A diamond of this grading has zero internal inclusions, even when viewed under a 10x magnification. Like flawless diamonds, internally flawless diamonds are extremely rare and very expensive.
Very Very Slightly Included 1 (VVS1)
A diamond that is very very slightly included 1 (VVS1) has internal flaws that is extremely difficult detect, even by a trained gemologist under a 10x magnification. These diamonds are nearly perfect, and are practically indistinguishable from higher grade diamonds.
Very Very Slightly Included 2 (VVS2)
A diamond with a grade of very very slightly included 2 (VVS2) is very similar to VVS1 grade diamonds. There are very minute imperfections within the gemstone that will take even a trained gemologist quite some time and effort in order to discover.
Very Slightly Included 1 (VS1)
A diamond with a grade of very slightly included 1 (VS1) has internal imperfections that can be seen with a little bit of effort by a trained gemologist under a 10x magnification. However, the inclusions are very much invisible to the naked eye, and even under magnification, is very hard for an untrained person to spot.
Very Slightly Included 2 (VS2)
A diamond with a grade of very slightly included 2 (VS2), like a VS1 diamond, has inclusions that can be spotted by a trained gemologist under a 10x magnification. While this may be the case, diamonds of this clarity rating are the lowest rating where a diamond is eye-clean, meaning that flaws cannot be seen by the naked eye! This is usually the sweet spot for purchasing a diamond at the most cost-effective price, while being sure that you have a diamond that is guaranteed to not have any visible flaws.
Slightly Included 1 (SI1)
A diamond that is of a slightly included 1 (SI1) grade has imperfections that are obvious with a 10x magnification, but those imperfections may or may not be visible to the naked eye, depending on the nature and location of the inclusions. When purchasing a diamond of this grade of clarity, it is necessary to visually inspect the diamond yourself to be sure that it doesn’t have any flaws that stand out to you. If you are having trouble choosing, feel free to contact us and we will be able to help you choose!
Slightly Included 2 (SI2)
A diamond that has a grade of slightly included 2 (SI2) has imperfections that can be easily seen with a 10x magnification, and those imperfections can often be seen by the naked eye. These inclusions are more obvious, and may also affect how the light reflects within the diamond. Again, as with the SI1 grade, it is imperative that you visually inspect the diamond to make sure that they do not have any obvious flaws that destroy the beauty of the diamond. You can ask us to help you take a look and make recommendations at any time by clicking here.
Included 1 (I1)
Diamonds that are of a grade of included 1 (I1) are diamonds that have inclusions that are very obvious when viewed through a 10x magnification, and often enough, the inclusions are also visible to the naked eye. However, this grade is also the final grade where it is possible to find a diamond which are still eye-clean, if you are very lucky. The inclusions may be on places on the diamond which are located at a perfect angle that hides those imperfections upon inspection. These rare I1 diamonds are your best bet if you want to find the most cost-effective diamond which are still eye-clean. The caveat? These diamonds are very hard to find, and you may need help. Contact us if you want us to help you search for the right diamond!
Included 2 & 3 (I2, I3)
Diamonds of grades included 2 (I2) and included 3 (I3) have inclusions that are visible both through a 10x magnification and also to the naked eye. These diamonds are never eye-clean, and are not worth your time browsing. Avoid I2 and I3 clarity grades when it comes to diamonds!
Diamonds are Forever
I’m sure you are familiar with the term that a diamond is forever. This rings true whenever you buy a diamond. Many people fall into the trap of thinking of buying a diamond as an investment for the future – a way to store and hold value for a rainy day.
This is simply not true! A diamond is yours forever once you have purchased it. A diamond is a luxury consumer product, and not an investment vehicle! There is no point in trying to sell a diamond, as the value drops significantly post-purchase.
Therefore, if you are thinking of shooting for a higher grade diamond simply as a store of value, as opposed to how beautiful it looks – you are doing it wrong! Always go for a diamond that looks beautiful to you, and as something that you will be purchasing and keeping for life. A diamond is forever.
Where do I find the best?
The best place to start looking for your diamond would be at James Allen and Blue Nile. They are the only online diamond retailers to date that offer high definition (HD) view of the diamonds they have in stock, so that you can visually inspect the diamonds you are purchasing for yourself! At the same time, they are our top two recommended retailers on the internet, so you can be sure you are shopping with the best and most trustworthy diamond retailers online!
A diamond’s clarity is one of the most difficult to discern out of a diamond’s 4C’s. If you are having trouble trying to find your perfect diamond, be sure to contact us! Our diamond experts are ready to take your inquiry and help you out through this challenging shopping endeavour!