Clarity is one of four main characteristics of a diamond, and it may have a crucial effect on your stones’ appearance. But how important is diamond clarity, especially compared with colour and cut? Read further to find the answers.
How Diamond Clarity Affects Appearance
Diamond clarity is one of the main characteristics of a diamond that grades how clean the diamond is from inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws).
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), diamond clarity is graded on the following scale:
- FL (Flawless) – no inclusions and blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- IF (Internally Flawless) – no inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
- VVS1, VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included) – hardly noticeable and very small inclusions visible under a gemological microscope.
- VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included) – minor inclusions visible with effort under 10x magnification.
- SI1 and SI2 (Slightly Included) – easily noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification.
- I1, I2 and I3 (Included) – obvious inclusions visible with the naked eye.
Clarity has a significant impact on a diamond’s appearance and value. The fewer inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the cleaner it looks and the more light passes through it, allowing the stone to maximize its sparkle. On the contrary, the more inclusions a diamond has, the duller it looks. If a diamond is heavily included, the flaws detract from the appearance of the stone and block the light that would have entered it. In other words, depending on the type of flaws, such diamonds do not sparkle well, even if they have an excellent cut grade.
What Is a Good Diamond Clarity?
The highest possible diamond clarity grade is FL or Flawless. Such stones do not have inclusions and blemishes visible under 10x magnification; however, they are also very rare and expensive.
In most cases, it does not make sense to overpay for a high-clarity diamond because stones with lower clarity grades can still look clean to the naked eye and do not spoil the appearance. As a general rule, any diamond whose inclusions are invisible to the naked eye is a good choice. Once you get above a certain grade, any further clarity improvement does not make much sense.
A diamond graded VS2 or SI1 could be an optimal option as diamonds with lower clarity grades usually have visible inclusions. It is worth mentioning that eye-clean diamonds may have inclusions visible under magnification, but you should not worry about them as no one will be looking at your stone using a loupe.
How Important Is Diamond Clarity Compared with Colour and Cut?
Diamond clarity is an important characteristic, but the cut quality has a bigger impact on the stone’s appearance. The closer the cut to ideal proportions, the better, as the ideal diamond cut is created to maximize a stone’s brilliance and sparkle.
Diamond colour is another important characteristic. Although it is not that crucial as the cut quality of a stone, if the diamond is too tinted, it will look yellowish and less bright.
To choose a good diamond considering its clarity, colour and cut, make sure the stone you are looking at does not have visible inclusions. You can focus on stones with VS2 or SI1 clarity grades. Next, choose a colour grade in which diamonds look fairly white. In most cases, stones in G or H colour grades are not visibly tinted. If you are going to have your stone set in a yellow or rose gold setting, you can go as low as I, J or even K grades because the colour of the metal will blend with the tint of the stone and make it less visible.
And last but not least, choose the cut quality. An ideal cut will provide you with maximum brilliance and make poor colour and clarity look better. On the contrary, a poor cut can make your diamond look worse even if all other characteristics are fine.