While shopping for diamonds, you may notice something interesting. If you compare two diamonds of the same clarity grade, you might notice that one looks clearer than the other. And here is why.
Diamond Clarity Short Course
Diamond clarity is graded according to how easy it is to see inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws) in the stone.
GIA diamond clarity grading scale with short descriptions is presented below:
- FL (Flawless) – These diamonds have no visible inclusions when looked at under a 10x magnification.
- IF (Internally Flawless) – These diamonds have only surface flaws that are visible under magnification.
- VVS1 and VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included) – These diamonds have only hardly noticeable and very small inclusions.
- VS1 and VS2 (Very Slightly Included) – These diamonds contain inclusions that are mostly seen without magnification.
- SI1 and SI2 (Slightly Included) – These diamonds have inclusions that are easy to see without magnification.
- I1, I2 and I3 (Included) – These diamonds contain flaws that can be easily seen with the naked eye.
Why Diamonds of the Same Clarity are not Equally Clean?
Clarity grades are based on a variety of criteria, that’s why determining the right grade requires some judgement. Clarity grading is not an exact science. There is some variation among the diamonds that are classified in the same category.
For example, one diamond may have 4 visible inclusions and another might have 7, but they both end up in the same grade. Or a diamond can be at the very low end of the VS2 grade and look like a stone from the very high end of SI1 grade.
How to Pick a Diamond Based on Its Clarity
Now being aware of variations of clarity within each grade, you can pick a better diamond and save some money.
Let’s say you like VS1 clarity diamonds. Ask the jeweller to also show you stones one grade lower (VS2) and look at the clearest one among them. It’s possible you may be satisfied with its appearance. Since the stones will look very similar, you may save a lot of money.
Alternatively, if your budget allows IF or VVS grade diamond, ask to see many different stones of that clarity. This way you will buy a diamond that looks like a stone that is one grade higher.
As a general rule, always compare different diamonds from the same clarity grade, one grade higher and one lower.
Always Ask for a Certificate
Always ask for a certificate of the stone you are about to buy.
If the diamond doesn’t have a certificate, the jeweller may sell you a stone that is actually at the higher end of a certain clarity grade but looks one grade higher.
Needless to say, that though the difference may not be that visible to the naked eye, it may translate into a noticeable dollar amount. That’s why you should never buy diamonds without a grading report.
Cover image credit: Ritani